Hope in Washington? Redskins change course

ASHBURN, Va. -- Daniel Snyder has spent more than a decade bringing headlines to Washington.

The fact the Redskins owner has not generated as many of those in 2011 is a recognition of a couple things:

  1. Second-year coach Mike Shanahan is in complete command, in a way no other coach of Snyder's has been.
  1. Snyder is more focused, for now, on the guts of the team than assembling stars at the top of the roster.

The result is a training camp that's far less of a circus, and a team that, if it's not better, is moving in lockstep far moreso than it was last year, Shanahan's first.

The team's NFC East rivals, most notably the Eagles, have generated noise, which doesn't seem to bug these Redskins one bit. As star pass-rusher Brian Orakpo told me, "I hope we're the most boringest team in the whole NFL."

Looking at the roster, the Redskins should have a shot at that title. Which is kind of the idea, anyway.

"We had our drama in the past," Orakpo continued. "If we can be boring and consistent and just come out here and go to work, and that's how it needs to be, maybe we can do big things."

Conversely, Washington has spent the offseason doing a lot of smaller things.

The club traded relentlessly in April to accumulate 12 draft picks. They already started to stockpile for 2012 with the trades of Albert Haynesworth and Donovan McNabb, players most figured the Redskins would simply release. They swung for singles, rather than the fences, in free agency, bringing in manageable-cost vets like Stephen Bowen, Barry Cofield and Donte' Stallworth, while dealing for Jabar Gaffney.

"We've got a bunch of new players, we've got a lot of young players, but that's the direction we wanted to head," Shanahan told me. "We've got more youth, and the type of players that I think give you a chance to be successful."

Another result: The Redskins, for once, have flexibility and draft-pick capital in their future.

Will all this add up to Shanahan being the guy to, finally, restore a brand that's taken a beating? Not necessarily. Stockpiling picks is one thing. Hitting on them is another. Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen will have to do better in that area than they did at the end of their previous tenures, in Denver and Tampa, respectively.

It also has the potential to be painful, this purge. John Beck's the quarterback for now, Rex Grossman could be later and, long-term, chances are that won't be good enough. Part of it could be, too, the fact that the 2012 rookie quarterback class -- provided Andrew Luck, Landry Jones and Matt Barkley declare -- is projected by most to be significantly better than the 2011 group.

But on a larger scale, that situation is another sign of where the Redskins are: Building methodically with a resistance to overreach for need. That approach, of course, represents change in Washington.

And after the last decade, change is welcomed there.

Follow Albert Breer on Twitter @AlbertBreer

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