Washington Redskins Off Season Report
2012 Season Review:
The Washington Redskins mortgaged their future for right now when they traded up to get Robert Griffin III. Who knew that gamble would pay off so soon for the Redskins. The story of the 2012 Redskins can be summed up in one word, injuries. Injuries to Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Fred Davis, and other key players put the Redskins behind the 8 ball early. Then the big injury came in Week 14 when Robert Griffin failed to slide on a running play and was hit on his knee and he suffered a sprained knee. The Redskin were able to win that game and the following game with back up rookie quarterback Kirk Cousins at the helm. RG3 was able to make his triumphant return and they headed into a win or go home game against the Dallas Cowboys in the final game of the regular season. The Redskins turned 3 interceptions into a division title and were playoff bound. The next week in the Wild Card round, The Redskins jumped out to a 14 – 00 lead, when a questionable hit on RG3 caused the star quarterback to limp off the field and into the training room. Griffin miraculously returned but was obviously hampered by the injury. The battered knee of RG3 finally gave way on a botched snap and all Hell broke loose in D.C. Irate fans were calling for the head coach’s head for allowing Griffin to play, the coach and team doctor were taking turns throwing each other under the bus for a “mis-communication”on the issue. Now heading into 2013, RG3 will be rehabbing from ACL surgery and we will have to see what effects that has on the number one rushing team in the league going forward.
2013 Off Season Priorities
Mike Shannahan has been on the chopping block before, but a playoff season and NFC East title seems to save his job for the time being. The problem for Shannahan is having to deal with the vitriol from fans if RG3 misses time next year, or he does not come back with any progression to his game. If the Redskins falter at all, you can bet the decision to keep RG3 in that playoff game against Seattle will be brought up over and over again in D.C.
Robert Griffin III was the NFL Rookie of the Year, and rightfully so with his play in 2012. RG3 proved to be more than a running quarterback by throwing for 3,200 yards 20 touchdowns and an amazing 5 interceptions. Griffin’s ability to run made them use a spread option format that resulted in the best rushing offense in all of football. When RG3 was out with injury another rookie quarterback stepped in for him. Kirk Cousins showed the ability to step in for RG3 and was a high trade commodity before the injury to RG3 that required surgery. Cousins went from a commodity to an asset as a possible seat holder for RG3 if Griffin needs more time to heal from his offseason surgery. Even though Cousins is far from the running threat that RG3 is, he has proven to be able to lead the offense in a different way, without losing the ability to run the ball and attack through the air.
Another rookie performance that was masterful by the Washington Redskins was the play of running back Alfred Morris. Morris rushed for over 1,600 yards and 13 touchdowns in his rookie season. Morris has been discounted by some as a product of the defenses focusing on RG3, but the truth is that Morris is more than just an option back. He runs tough through the tackles and has the ability to bounce the play outside to outrun the defense. Back up Evan Royster is another competent back, with some of the same skills as Morris, without the top end speed, but still effective in the redskins offense.
The wide receiver position in Washington is quite unconventional by current standards. Most teams get their passing game going with tall strong receivers. The Redskins went the exact opposite style with more vertically challenged receivers that use their speed, agility and route running to break down the defense. Pierre Garcon, Santana Moss and Josh Morgan are all small by current standards, but they get the job done by spreading the ball to them and running after the catch. Leonard Hankerson at 6’2″ is the tallest player of the group and is another speed guy that makes big plays down the field.
Tight end is going to be a major concern for the Redskins in the offseason. Fred Davis has shown glimpses of greatness, but they have been mostly short lived. His brother, San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, went through the same sort of growing pains in his career. With Davis being a free agent, if the Redskins bring him back, they can only hope he reaches the same kind of heights his brother has in his career. While Davis was out with injury, Logan Paulson picked up the slack for the tight end. He is also a free agent and could be a cheaper option than Davis. The truth of the matter is that only one of these two will likely be brought back, so they may go with the cheaper option of Paulson. On the roster, Niles Paul is under contract, and could be a good fit as a number 2 tight end but as far as stepping up to the starter role, that will be a different story, yet to be told. With the Redskins not having a first round pick, the second round may seem high for a tight end, but if Gavin Escobar – TE – San Diego State is available he may be a player to fit in Washington. if they pass on Escobar, Dion Sims in round 4 is the next best option.
Trent Williams, a first round pick three years ago has become a very good Left Tackle. The only question about WIlliams is his reliability, as he has been injured or suspended causing him to miss many games in his short career so far. Tom Compton being the only other tackle on the roster under contract is a scary situation for the Redskins trying to keep an already injured RG3 healthy. The guard position in Washington was one of their strengths. Kory Lichetnstieger was the key to the Washington offense. he is a free agent but his ability to pull and follow the Shannahan blocking scheme is vital to their success going forward. The Skins will have to keep him on their roster. Chris Chester on the right side was another solid blocker for the Redskins last year. The Mike Shannahan offense relies on smaller more agile guards, so Chester fits right in with his scheme. Will Montgomery at center is a 7 year veteran. Again due to the blocking scheme of the Shannahan offense the center needs to not only be a good blocker, but they must be smart to make decisions on how to block the defensive front.
The Redskins could use the Draft to upgrade both the right tackle and center spots. They need to get depth at center at the very least. In Round 2 if they are lucky enough for Barrett Jones – C – Alabama to fall to them they would be more than gracious. If they cannot get Jones, than in round 3, Brian Schwenke – C – California would fit. Tackle could be a good pick in round 2 if Jones is not available. Dallas Thomas – OT – Tennessee and Manelik Watson – OT – Florida State would be great picks to slide in and challenge for a starting spot right away. Later in the draft David Quessenberry – OT – San Jose State would also be a fit.
On the defensive line, Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker can hold down the defensive end position. They are perfect 3 -4 ends because they can hold their own in gap techniques to stop the run and beat double teams to put pressure on the quarterback. Barry Coefield at 6’4″ 318 is a nose tackle that can draw a double team and keep the linemen off their linebackers to allow them to make plays. The Redskins could use some depth on the line, but it is not a necessity.
London Fletcher is the ageless wonder. He finally got a bid to the Pro Bowl, all be it because of the 49ers making the Super Bowl, but he well deserved it for being robbed for years. Perry Riley the other middle linebacker also finished with over 100 tackles in 2012. Brian Orakpo miss basically the entire season due to injury, but he will be back for 2013 to apply pressure on the quarterback. Ryan Kerrigan on the other side, suffered from injury last year as well, but he has also put together the ability to rush the passer. Lorenzo Alexander, as a back up and rotation player can fill in nicely at either outside or inside position.
The redskins secondary seems to be in pretty decent shape. DeAngelo Hall is an enigma, sometimes he looks like a top level corner, and other times he looks like he can’t cover anyone. he is still a dynamic play maker so he will be good for at least another couple seasons. Josh Wilson and Cedric Griffin will battle for the second corner spot and the nickle spot. Likely Wilson will win the job, but never count out a vet to make a push for the starting role. Reed Doughty will likely be back as a starting safety. Madieu Williams is a free agent. Brandon Merriweather is on the roster and could fill in for Williams if he is not retained.
Starting the draft in the second round is always a tough way to build your roster. Speculating on the pick in the second round is tough, because it depends on how other teams draft. In the Draft they will have to go after upgrades on the offensive line. If they do not resign one of their tight ends then they will need to address that need as well. Depth on the defensive line and at linebacker could be addressed also.
The Redskins played the 2012 draft like kings. They got two quarterbacks capable of starting at any point. They got a top notch running back as well. This year they do not have a first round pick which will complicate things, but their roster will be set mostly by players returning from injury. Speaking of injury, the ability of RG3 to return from his ACL injury will be a huge part of how the Redskins defend their NFC East title in 2013.
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