Is this the season the Washington Redskins finally move forward? I'm not talking about just making the playoffs, which seems iffy, but creating a program that sustains success like in the 1980s. That means no longer looking like clowns waiting for another passing circus, or price-gouging fans while banning free speech on shirts and signs.

Is this the year owner Dan Snyder finally butts out and real football men take over?

Sure looks like it.

The Redskins open training camp Thursday with more than a new coach and a bona-fide general manager. They have a new approach: It's called football instead of marketing.

Last year was the needed meltdown, forcing Snyder into admitting -- after 10 years of ownership -- that he didn't know anything about football. Coach Jim Zorn was fired. Vice president of foolishness Vinny Cerrato was fired. More than half of the players are gone, too.

Frankly, good riddance to a 4-12 crew that underachieved more than the French World Cup team. A little revolution now and then is good. Tens of thousands of fans boycotting late-season games convinced Snyder to finally step away.

The offseason was filled with the right moves. Washington hired a two-time Super Bowl winning coach who's not just here to boost his retirement fund. Mike Shanahan will stiffen these slackers. It may be the best team behavior makeover since Vince Lombardi's one-season turnaround in 1969.

GM Bruce Allen grabbed a veteran quarterback for a fair price instead of overpaying like his predecessor did regularly. He found spare parts for the roster and used the fourth overall draft choice for a needed left tackle. It was a movement away from the splashy offseason roster moves that defined the Cerrato era. And that's a good thing.

Getting quarterback Donovan McNabb from Philadelphia could be the steal of the NFL offseason. The difference in his leadership among teammates is startling.

This is how winning teams are constructed. Not from fear of being fired by an inept front office, overpaying for free agents and trading draft picks like backroom political favors. Winning is built through a no-nonsense approach.

Naturally, something has to go wrong, which is where Albert Haynesworth comes in. Clinton Portis has bought into Shanahan's system so much the running back might rediscover his 1,500-yard legs. But Haynesworth has been a no-show during the offseason and threatens to be a distraction even if he shows up. Then again, you can't have a Redskins season without some off-field drama.

Maybe the Redskins don't make the playoffs this season. They're still a little short at several positions. But this surely will be a year remembered for restoring the franchise's reputation.

Rick Snider has covered local sports since 1978. Read more at and Twitter @Snide_Remarks or e-mail