As Redskins assistant head coach-offense Joe Bugel put it, Jon Jansen is one of the team's "E.F. Hutton" guys. When he talks, you stop and listen.
So when the Redskins' right offensive tackle and statesman says he sees "wins and playoffs" on the horizon this season, you can't just dismiss it despite last year's disappointing 5-11 campaign.
Granted, Jansen's optimism is similar to what many veteran leaders around the league are saying at this time.
But the Redskins' relative roster stability last offseason, plus the chemistry built by last year's club--which in his opinion at least had a chance to win every game--will "pay dividends," he said.
He refused to predict how high the team can go.
"I think the stability that we've had, not just this year but last year, is really going to help us," he said during the Redskins' mini-camp last June. "We lost Dock (left guard Derrick Dockery) as part of the unit, we lost one or two guys on the team. But for the most part we've got quality guys back."
Jansen was a key to an offensive line that stood as one of the Redskins' bright spots in 2006.
The unit allowed only 19 sacks and opened holes for the fourth-best rushing team in the NFL led by Ladell Betts, who ran for a career-high 1,154 yards, plus five straight 100-yard games to tie a team record.
Betts' 100-yarders came during a late-season stretch when the Redskins resorted to smash-mouth football and ground out huge chunks of real estate, essentially using the run to set up the pass.
Does Jansen foresee them picking up with the same offensive approach this season?
"I hope to be ahead of where we were at the end of last year," he said. "What I mean is I hope that we come through the preseason and start the season with an identity. Right now, one would think that's going to be a physical identity as a line and as an offense.
"Hopefully, it translates to the whole team and into some more wins than we had at the end of last year. We were playing well but not good enough to win."
Jansen is excited about a two-pronged rushing attack featuring Betts and Clinton Portis, who was injury-riddled last year and went on IR midway through the season.
Portis, who is expected to play in the season opener, set a Redskins record with 1,516 rushing yards during a playoff year in 2005. Jansen also likes what he sees in second-year quarterback Jason Campbell.
"We all know what Clinton can do, he did it two years ago," Jansen said. "We know what Ladell can do because he did it last year for us. The combination is, one, going to help those guys stay healthy throughout the season and, two, if one of them gets dinged, we're not worried, the other one can carry the load."
For Jansen, 2006 was a rarity. The man justly nicknamed "rock" sat out a game due to a nagging calf injury, his only missed start in 116 possible games in seven full seasons with the Redskins. (He sat out the 2004 season with an Achilles tendon injury.) He missed the Redskins' 16-10 win over the Saints on Dec. 17.
Jansen played about a third of the season with the calf injury, showing his trademark signs of a warrior while delivering some of the best games of his career.
Case in point: He shut down Panthers superstar defensive end Julius Peppers, who had no sacks in a 17-13 Redskins win on Nov. 26 after entering the game with a league-high 11.
"He just refuses to come out of there," Redskins coach Joe Gibbs said at the time of his rock at right tackle.
Jansen is one of the most popular Redskins and the longest-tenured player on the team.
Through it all, he's experienced the good, the bad and the ugly: two second-round playoff appearances, one in his rookie year in 1999 and one in 2005, a series of mediocre seasons and two 5-11 campaigns. He said it's been "very frustrating" that he hasn't yet reached the Super Bowl.
"I didn't think that in season nine I would look back on my rookie year as as far as we've gone in the playoffs," he said. "But the thing that gives me hope is that there's a lot of optimism this year, there's a great feeling."