Because why the hell not?
At first when it was reported that former Eagles tailback was meeting with the Redskins in Ashburn back on 11 May, I figured it was a courtesy call, after all Brian was no longer with the Eagles, Donovan McNabb his quarterback for all eight seasons as a pro was with a new team and no doubt looking for a solid hook up, and lastly and most apropos to a Washington visit was Brian's participation in an event on behalf of the NFL High School Player Development program at Spingarn High School in the District of Columbia.
You see Brian is a DeMatha Catholic High School alumni, class of 1997, and Stags coach Bill McGregor sponsors this area event annually. Coach McGregor has been at DeMatha for an incredible 26 years and beyond wild success on the field has fostered an extreme loyalty on the part of literally generations of football players. The players never forget the lessons learned with him and in return help coach McGregor
enslave the world for Satan's glory spread his message on the value of team sports in the lives of young men.
That conventional wisdom, that the Redskins would never take a flyer on an aging and oft injured tailback when Larry Johnson, Willie Parker and Clinton Portis were already on the roster, turned out to be wrong when the Redskins made a contract offer to Brian on 2 June. And it makes total sense and Brian should come join the team. Here is why, in three easy bullets:
1. There are no sacred cows in the backfield. Clinton Portis may be scheduled to make 6.4 million dollars in 2010 whether or not he plays a down of real football (op. cit.), I can tell you with certainty this does not mean a good goddamn to coach Mike Shanahan. Coach will put the player with the best chance to succeed in the backfield, and will no doubt rotate all backs as game and injury circumstances warrant. There may not be a feature back for this team in 2010, it may be a true committee, I am confident that coach Shanahan is relishing the competitive prospects of pitting every able bodied but glory fading tailback into a competition for quality in which the team is the winner. Larry Johnson, Willie Parker, Clinton Portis, why not throw Brian Westbrook in there and let the best men get the touches?
2. How and how well the offensive line will block is still an open question. Surely a topic for longer analysis, the theme of the offensive line this offseason is flexibility. Trent Williams and Jammal Brown have both played both tackle positions. Artis Hicks can see that versatility and raise you experience at right guard. And while this apparent embarrassment of options bodes well for a unit that has been in steady decline really since 2007, all the pieces still need to get put into place. How they play, play together and play the schemes together is still to be determined, no matter what comes out there can be a back to suit that line's strengths; Larry Johnson was a punishing north south runner in his prime, Willie Parker a fast and shifty outside runner and Clinton Portis at his height was slippery like Emmitt Smith, capable of eluding tackles in the hole. Now toss in Brian Westbrook, a solid off tackle runner, elusive in traffic and a superior pass catcher. There is no downside in adding one more option for maximizing offensive line play.
3. Brian Westbrook gives Donovan McNabb a reliable target on day one. Brian caught 426 passes in eight seasons with the Eagles, that is 53 a season, obviously the huge bulk of them were from Dono, these guys have that chemistry that comes from knowing how a guy runs and catches and how a guy times and throws. I know coach Shanahan wanted to have everyone on board that was coming aboard by last week's mandatory camp, Brian is a professional and can pick up the offense in camp. As much as the next Redskins fan I want to see the team run a bruising time sucking ground attack, there are questions about the receiver positions and I would not deny a quarterback with Donovan's experience his choice of fallback targets as the team sets the stage for 2010.
Bonus: It would piss off Eagles fans to no end if Brian and Dono succeed. In the Bizarro football culture of the Eagles these guys were loved until they were not, all Dono ever did was make it clear again and again that he wanted to stay in Philadelphia forever, despite his accomplishments the fans never settled in on Dono as their permanent quarterback for better or for worse, instead with every shaky outing, loss or injury radio WIP had them on the air, raging Eagles fans demanding an end to the Donovan McNabb experiment once and for all. With Jeff Garcia's success in 2006 and Kevin Kolb's promise the past two seasons the bloom was off the rose, despite maybe three to five more good seasons in Dono's future. As a guest of the Eagles once a year guaranteed I can tell you first hand that Eagles fans loved Donovan's production but never really loved Donovan. And as Dono went so did Brian.
Get on board Brian, the Redskins are getting the band back together!
Brian Westbrook evading former Redskins defensive tackle Cornelius Griffin: Uncredited image from here via here and here.