Yesterday, Bill Thompson wrote a piece on the question marks surrounding Redskins training camp and how there are a lot of unproven positions and reasons for concern when looking over the entire Skins roster. While I don’t fall in to the category of the delusional Redskins fans who always say we are going to win the Super Bowl in the offseason, I do consider myself a homer and tend to always believe in my teams and players more than I should.
With that being said, I do believe there is plenty of reason for optimism for this Skins team going into training camp. I am not claiming huge breakout numbers for half the roster or 12 wins on the season, but there is plenty of reason to be excited for the upcoming season. You can see that coach Shanahan is slowly building a team that will try and contend eventually, and although it hasn’t showed in the win column just yet, the pieces are starting to come together. It still may take some time, but I believe winning is right around the corner, and it could be here sooner than some people think.
Again, I am not one of the many folks talking about the Super Bowl. But let’s take a look at why we should be optimistic about this roster.
Three words: R….G….3!! Whether you call him RGIII, Robert, or even Bob Griffin, Robert Griffin the Third is the best thing that has happened to DC sports in a long time. Sure he hasn’t played a down yet, but everything about this kid is electric and he seems like a winner on and off the field. There is a lot placed on him due to they hype and expectations, but I have little doubt that he will be able to live up to it all.
I am not even talking about delivering historical rookie stats like Cam Newton — someone he is often compared to — but more along the lines of just competently running an offense and bringing efficiency to the most important position on the field, something DC has lacked for a very long time. As long as the team can add 2 to 3 wins, and start to look like a functional offense, it will be a success from my standpoint.
No reason to mention the backups here, Griffin is the reason for optimism.
The fact that Washington has 3 very capable running backs who have proven that they can perform at the NFL level is a huge plus. Tim Hightower is not a spectacular runner by an means, but he is very solid when healthy and brings consistency. He will give you 60-70 yards a game and a few catches, and is reliable coming out of the backfield.
What I am really excited about is the two guys coming into their sophomore season, Roy Helu and Evan Royster. Sure both guy have not proven anything over a full course of an NFL season, but there is plenty to be optimistic when looking at these two runners. Helu showed he can be a dual threat, both running and receiving out of the back field. He had a 3 week stretch at the end of last season (prior to injury) where he averaged 111.3 yards per game on 24 carries to go along with 34 yards receiving per game. Evan Royster then took over the rushing load and produced similar, if not better, numbers. The last two weeks of the season, Royster averaged 122.5 yards per game on 19.5 carries, and 29.5 yards receiving.
So even removing Hightower from the equation, this is a very promising backfield. If Tim is not ready at the start of the season, Roy Helu and Evan Royster could be a very good 1-2 punch.
This group I am not 100% sold on, but it doesn’t mean I don’t think they can be productive. I am actually rather high on Leonard Hankerson, and think that he could be put in a perfect position as the number two receiver to impact the game. Sliding Santana Moss into the slot and having him underneath could open up the potential for big plays from Hankerson and newly acquired Pierre Garcon. Garcon steps in as the number one wideout, and has all the skills to be able to perform in that role. Add in Josh Morgan, who is good with yards after catch, and there is the potential for solid production out of this group. Things do have to lineup, but a Garcon – Hankerson – Moss combo could end up being an above average group.
Overly optimistic…..yes I am. Chris Cooley (healthy) and Fred Davis, sign me up. If these two can find a way to be on the field together in packages, it will make life easier on the rest of the offense. Add in Niles Paul, who Mike Shanahan is trying to turn into the next Shannon Sharpe, and the tight end group could be very, very effective as Robert Griffin’s go to guys.
This is a tough group to be positive about. I would have liked to see this line addressed more in free agency and the draft, but the Skins did add one piece in Josh LeRibeus. Like I said earlier, I always believe in my guys more than I should, so I have faith that LeRibeus can develop into a very good lineman. Trent Williams has the tools to be one of the better left tackles in the league, it is just a matter of putting it all together. I believe this is the year he gets his act together. There are a bunch of interchangeable pieces, and the line definitely has a lot of versatility. If this group can stay healthy, it should be an average line, good enough to get the job done.
The defensive line has the potential to be very disruptive. There should be nothing but excitement over what this group can do. Last season, Jarvis Jenkins was looking like a stud until he was injured. Adding a healthy Jenkins to an already above average line, I know I wouldn’t be excited to face these guys if I was another team’s offense.
No need for repetition here…..quoting Bill:
There are no questions here. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are both monsters who will only get better. In the middle London Fletcher is the heart and soul the team while Perry Riley is set to have a big season in his second year in the system. Lorenzo Alexander is moving positions once again and will play some inside linebacker. The surprise of this group will be Keenan Robinson, the rookie out of Texas. He is a beast and should help out in pass rushing situations.
Not optimistic here……more like scared.
Best thing about the defensive backs: the defensive line should put enough pressure on opposing QB’s to cause some interception opportunities for the corners and safeties.
Sav Rocca is a very good punter. He has practiced his Madden Coffin Corner punt drills and is an expert….probably rated in the mid to high 90′s. Neil Rackers can do this, so that is always a plus (whatever, that is real). Rackers vs. Graham Gano could actually end up being an interesting camp battle. I hope to see this team more worried about extra points than 40 yard field goals, so we will see.
Sure there are many things surrounding this Redskins team to be concerned about, but I also believe there are many reason to be encouraged and optimistic. Whether or not you fall into a group described as delusional or pessimistic, you can’t help but be excited for this upcoming season. After all, the Redskins always dominate the offseason. It is just what we do. Now let’s see it translate to the real season.
** Also, check out Derek Goode‘s 53 -Man Final Roster Prediction