Originally posted on 60 Max Power O  |  Last updated 8/7/12

The Redskins released their first depth chart yesterday with less than 72 hours until the RGIII era begins against the Bills in the first preseason game.  Not too many surprises, but glaring holes in the OL.  Don't get me wrong, I'm excited about most of this roster, but I have always believed that behind quarterback, offensive and defensive line are the most important positions in football. Control the line of scrimmage like the Patriots and Giants do and you will consistently be contenders.

Here's the depth chart with commentary to follow:

Offense
WR - Santana Moss - Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan
LT - Trent Williams - Tom Compton, Jordan Black
LG - Kory Lichtensteiger - Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus
C - Will Montgomery - Eric Cook
RG - Chris Chester - Adam Gettis
RT - Jammal Brown - Tyler Polumbus, Willie Smith
TE - Fred Davis - Chris Cooley, Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen
WR - Pierre Garcon - Anthony Armstrong, Brandon Banks
FB - Darrel Young - Chris Cooley
RB - Tim Hightower - Evan Royster, Roy Helu, Alfred Morris
QB - Robert Griffin III - Rex Grossman, Kirk Cousins

Defense
DE - Adam Carriker - Kedrick Golston, Doug Worthington
NT - Barry Cofield - Chris Neild, Chris Baker, Delvin Johnson
DE - Stephen Bowen - Jarvis Jenkins, Darrion Scott
OLB - Ryan Kerrigan - Chris Wilson, Markus White
ILB - London Fletcher - Lorenzo Alexander, Donnell Holt
ILB - Perry Riley - Bryan Kehl, Keenan Robinson
OLB - Brian Orakpo - Rob Jackson, Brian McNally
CB - DeAngelo Hall - Cedric Griffin, Richard Crawford
S - Brandon Meriwether - Reed Doughty
S - Madieu Williams - DeJon Gomes, Tanard Jackson
CB - Josh Wilson - Kevin Barnes, Brandyn Thompson

Special
K - Graham Gano - Neil Rackers
P - Sav Rocca
KR - Brandon Banks - Aldrick Robinson, Anthony Armstrong
PR - Brandon Banks - Aldrick Robinson, Anthony Armstrong

Offense

1) Let's start with the wide receivers. I love everything I've read about Santana Moss this offseason. EVERYTHING. One of my all-time favorite Redskins came back rejuvenated.  The early word towards the end of last season was that he was at risk of being cut, and then the Redskins go out and sign two receivers in free agency. But look who's at the top of the depth chart.  I'm very excited to see a 33 year old Santana Moss this year. My personal opinion is that he has a lot left in the tank.

Pierre Garcon, from everything I've heard has looked great; reports indicate that Hankerson has shown tremendous growth from last year; Anthony Armostrong showing up on the second string is, I believe, a result of Morgan not having too much camp time so far.  By the start of the season, we will see Hankerson and Morgan battling for 3/4.  We will often see Moss playing out of the slot in 3 and 4 receiver packages too.

I like the receivers, but am not head over heels for this group; however, if Hankerson really has improved as much as I'm reading, and Garcon plays up to his dollar amount then this is a scary group of receivers that will really ease RGIII into his first year.

2) The TE's. Fred Davis was a stud until he and Williams decided to be Cheech and Chong last year1.  With Davis back to form and the help of a rejuvenated receiving corps, his productivity should only increase. Maybe he'll get less touches and targets, but he'll have more space and get less attention.

Add a healthy Chris Cooley to the mix - Shanahan confirms this - who has slimmed down like Santana moss and converted receiver Niles Paul, and it looks like the Redskins have some serious pass-catching options at TE.  Logan Paulsen is a good run-blocker, but not good enough and probably gets cut.

I'm worried they may still cut Cooley because of his cap number.  I understand it's a lot to pay for a number 2 tight end, but he's been a pro-bowler, is a fan-favorite, and we've seen what he can do when healthy.  Multiple TE's can work very well (see: Patriots, New England) and I see TE as a huge strength for this offense, and generally as a great friend to QBs.

3) The OL is not exciting me whatsoever. It's the same group that was dismal last year, allowing 41 sacks, 108 QB hits, and paving the way for a measly 100 ypg.  Granted, Trent Williams was suspended 4 games, but they were lackluster before that (and he wasn't looking top-5 pick caliber either). Two guards were drafted, and with Chester being carted off today and Lichtensteiger hurt, they'll see a lot of time on Thursday.  I've read that Gettis looks pretty good (Big Ten lineman, go figure) and LeRibeus is consistently being pushed into the backfield (but at least he's funny!).

Jammal Brown, a former pro-bowler has been hurt since he came to the Skins.  He's hurt now.

I want to give Shanahan the benefit of the doubt and say, "He does it with a different kind of lineman and a different scheme.  These guys aren't prototypical NFLers, but they're prototypical Shanahan lineman."  I want to say that, but I really don't have the confidence in this group.  They haven't proven they can protect the quarterback, they haven't proven they can block the zone scheme, they haven't proven they can stay healthy, and they new guys haven't been showing too much in practice.  I hope I'm wrong, but if this group doesn't perform than RGIII won't even have an opportunity to get the ball to his playmaker TE's and WR's.

4) RGII. The. Second. Coming. Can't wait to watch this man play at a high level for 15 years and hoist several Lombardi Trophies in the B&G.  BUT, for now he's a rookie. We'll see on Thursday how well he's grasping the playbook so far.  This will be our first indication of what he's capable of this year. Cam Newton was great all preseason last year.

5) I personally think that this running back group is awesome. Three guys who have proven they can run the ball over 100 yards.  Roy Helu was an animal last year, has looked great in the preseason, and starts the year as the third guy.  Hightower looked great in the preseason last year, and it was unfortunate that he didn't get to finish out the year.  Evan Royster was a treat last year - there were no expectations, and he really performed at a high level. A guy I really like is the rookie, Alfred Morris.  I love how he runs, and he's a great change up from the other guys.  Will we keep 4 tailbacks? I doubt it, but I hope so.

I hope the unit can stay healthy.  If so, it's the NFL's best trio of tailbacks. Shanahan certainly has a way with backs, so I consider the RB position a potent strength on offense for the Skins.

Defense

1) The DL was OK last year, but they get another year in the system and Jarvis Jenkins. I like the 6-man rotation we have at the DE and NT positions.  I think they will perform better than last year and that Jenkins will add a dynamic level that was missing last year.

2) I love the Linebackers on this team.  I love Perry Riley inside. He only started 8 games last year, but he wound up with 66 tackles. Now he's got a full offseason to prepare for a full season. He will shine this year next to the unwavering and ageless London Fletcher. Both were steals, Riley in the draft and Fletcher in free agency.

Kerrigan, stud. Orakpo, Stud. Kerrigan will only get stronger in year two. Orakpo has been named to multiple pro-bowls and calls tons of attention, but I'd frankly like to see him wreak a lot more havoc.  That said, I think this is one of the strongest pass-rushing duos in the league, and they will be for a long time. The reserves here are all great spot contributors. Markus White, Chris Wilson, and Rob Jackson are assets when they're on the field.  Great starters with very solid depth at linebacker. Inside reserve Lorenzo Alexander can do no wrong in my book, and is a stellar special teamer.

3) The concern for this defense is the Defensive Backfield. Raheem Morris has a challenge in front of him. If this unit is successful, it will really be a testament to him.  Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall are back at the corner spots.  Your guess is as good as mine as to whether or not Kevin Barnes shows up this year after a tough season last year, or Cedric Griffin is a good fit in the Nickel or Dime.

The safeties are completely retooled. Landry and Otogwe never played, so I do consider this unit upgraded from last year's Daughty and Gomes combo.  Gomes was very solid in his rookie season, though. And, statistically, Doughty was great against the run.  The new faces are former pro-bowler Brandon Meriweather, veteran Madieu Williams, and local bad-boy Tanard Jackson.  It looks like a band of misfits, but they have all performed at very high-levels in this league...and not too long ago either.  This could work out great, but it could fail miserably. It's on Raheem and my fingers are crossed. Worst case scenarios: we have the same safeties as last year, and, as I said, Gomes was very solid.

One thing on defense that the Redskins have to do better is force turnovers.  3-4 defenses are designed to get to the quarterback and force turnovers. The Redskins got to the Quarterback, but they weren't abel to take the ball away. If they are able to do that this year, then they will be a completely different animal.

Special Teams

1) Graham Gano has been winning the kicking battle against Neil Rackers thus far.  This is so frustrating as a Redskins fan.  Gano's been terrible for us.  He'll occasionally make an incredible kick, but then he misses easy ones and game winners.

There's no doubt he has the leg and raw talent, but Rackers has a track record for being consistent and effective.  The flip side is that the Redskins keep getting kickers who suck for us and then end up being great with other teams: David Akers, Shaun Suisham, Nick Novak.

That said, Rackers has always kicked in a dome, and 5 of Gano's 10 misses last year were blocks.  We'll see.

Overall

I'm very excited to see this team hit the field for the first time.  RGIII is electric and he has weapons. It's a matter of that o-line coming together and keeping his jersey clean while opening holes for the backs. They are the lynchpin of this offense. Which sucks, because I'm not that confident in this unit, though I'm hopeful.

The defense is ready to make the jump from solid to great this year.  They can get to the quarterback, and the front seven is top ten in the NFL.  The Linebackers are insanely good, and Jarvis Jenkins is a welcome addition to the front seven.  No matter how you look at it, the safeties are improved this year, and the third corner will be better (better play from Barnes and/or Cedric Griffin stepping into that role).  Wilson and Hall were good, and with help they'll be better.  The big difference for this defense will be taking the ball away.  If they can do that effectively, they will be a force to reckoned with.

The Skins have a fighting chance in a lot of divisions, but the NFC East has 3 Super Bowl contenders in it.  The Skins are going to finish last in the East with anywhere from 6-8 wins.  The future, however, is promising.  Though this season won't result in a championship run, it's an important developmental season. A lot of the pieces are in place. Two more years and Shanahan and Bruce will have built a perenial contender.  Now let's hope Snyder can see that and have some patience to let the whole thing come together.

---------------------------------------------------------

1 That's a whole different topic, but guys, if you're lucky you have a 10 year career, can you at least show a little bit of restraint and hold off that long?  It's pathetic how pro athletes can get arrested, fail drug tests, and drive drunk and keep their jobs unlike anyone else in America. Michael Vick was in prison for committing a serious federal offense, and now he's a redemption story and one of the highest-paid players in the league. Kenny Britt has been arrested EIGHT TIMES since joining the NFL. How is that possible??

 

 

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