Originally posted on Football Nation  |  Last updated 1/20/12
The 2011 season got off to a promising beginning for the Washington Redskins, with a 3-1 start heading into their Week 5 bye bolstered by a season-opening win over the division rival New York Giants. But things quickly took a turn for the worst, with a six-game losing streak after the bye week that included benching quarterback Rex Grossman in favor of John Beck and then eventually going back to Grossman.

The Redskins would complete a season sweep of the Giants in Week 15, but the absence of tight end Fred Davis and left tackle Trent Williams for the final four games of the season after being suspended for violating the NFL's substance abuse policy put a damper on any momentum that they could have provided.

Here is my look at some of the most pressing issues facing the Redskins during the offseason, entirely related to the roster. One item of note in terms of the coaching staff is the addition of former Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Raheem Morris as defensive backs coach.

5. Find Playmakers On Defense - The Redskins finished in the top half of the league (13th) in total defense, and also finished tied for 10th in the league with 41 sacks. The talent at linebacker is good, led by Brian Orakpo, London Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan, though Fletcher is slated to become a free agent which could create a hole at inside linebacker if he is not re-signed. The bigger concern has to be the dismal total of just 13 interceptions this past season, though an injury to star safety LaRon Landry (Achilles) may have played a role. Finding better talent at defensive end that could be a fit for the team's 3-4 defensive scheme also should be a priority in the Draft or free agency. Adding a young, dynamic cornerback, such as LSU's Morris Claiborne or Alabama's Dre Kirkpatrick, could be a top priority with the No. 6 overall pick in April.

4. Make Decisions On Key Players - As previously mentioned, Fletcher, who led the NFL in tackles in 2011, is slated to be a free agent and would be hard to replace. His age (37 in May) makes a lengthy contract extension unlikely, but bringing Fletcher back looks to be a priority for the Redskins' front office. A couple of much more difficult decisions are coming in the case of Landry, who has not played all 16 games since 2008 and is slated to become a free agent, and tight end Chris Cooley, who is due to make $3.8 million next season and has played less than 10 games in two of the past three seasons. Fellow tight end Fred Davis is himself scheduled to become a free agent, so the Redskins may allocate resources toward re-signing him and cut Cooley loose.

3. Fix Offensive Line Issues - Washington appears pretty well set at one tackle spot with Williams at left tackle and as a former first-round pick he looks entrenched. But they ranked in the bottom half of the league in sacks allowed (41), and right tackle Jammal Brown's struggles to regain his previous form has led to head coach Mike Shanahan suggesting he is not guaranteed to return next season if he is not 100 percent healthy. Right guard Chris Chester looks likely to return to his spot, since he has four years left on the sizeable contract he signed last season, but left guard Kory Lichtensteiger is coming off a devastating knee injury suffered in October and is also slated to become a free agent. Center Will Montgomery is a natural guard, so he could move back there and then the team could address center as a position of need this offseason. In any case, any improvement the Redskins see offensively in 2012 may start in the trenches with an upgrade in talent.

2. Find A Game-Breaking Wide Receiver -  Jabar Gaffney set career highs in receptions (68) and receiving yards (947) in 2011, and Santana Moss, despite missing four games with a broken hand, had 46 receptions for 584 yards. Other than that, no other Redskins' wide receiver had more than 22 receptions (Donte Stallworth). There are some young players that still offer potential, like Leonard Hankerson, Anthony Armstrong, Niles Paul and Aldrick Robinson, but Washington really needs a wide receiver with a higher ceiling or better yet one that is in the prime of his career. The potential free agent class of wide receivers is fairly deep this year, with Marques Colston, Vincent Jackson and Mario Manningham among the notable names that could interest the Redskins. They could use the No. 6 pick in April's Draft on the position as well, with Oklahoma State's Justin Blackmon as a possible option. No matter what, wide receiver should be No.2 on the offseason checklist for the Redskins.

1. Find A Long-Term Solution At Quarterback - It is clear that Rex Grossman and John Beck are not championship-caliber quarterbacks, and the lack of a long-term plan here will continue to derail any postseason aspirations the Redskins have until that is corrected. Grossman is slated to become a free agent and has to be considered unlikely to return next year, while Beck is slated to make $1 million in 2012 and may return as a backup. Washington could trade up from the sixth overall pick in April's Draft with Baylor's Robert Griffin in mind as the quarterback of the future, and some recent reports have suggested they could have interest in Green Bay Packers' backup quarterback (and pending free agent) Matt Flynn. It is also possible a more proven veteran could be brought aboard and an early round pick could be used on a quarterback, but an upgrade here is absolutely needed and has to be the top priority for the Redskins this offseason. Peyton Manning had been casually mentioned as an option, with everything depending on his health and what the Indianapolis Colts decide to do with him, and with Daniel Snyder in the owner's box nothing can be totally ruled out.

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