We’ll be hashing over the Washington Redskins in today’s 32 NFL Team preview. The burgundy and gold have come a long way. Winning the NFC East last year, the Redskins hosted their first home Playoff game since 1999. Mike Shanahan and Bruce Allen seem to have done just what they promised. They’ve got the Skins’ back on top, but now have to keep them there. Shanahan needs to have a winning season in 2013 to turn his 21-27 overall record with the team into a positive one. Washington’s goal will be holding more home Playoff games this upcoming season.
Offense: An Offense that struggled in 2011 was reborn with the addition of a Quarterback in the 2012 Draft. Robert Griffin III led the Skins’ with 3,200 passing yards, 815 rushing yards, 20 passing/7 rushing touchdowns, and 5 interceptions. He only lost 2 but he needs to shore up putting on the ball on the ground as he fumbled 12 times in his rookie year. Griffin possesses arm strength and accuracy that’s rarely seen in a player at his position who’s considered a running threat. If RGIII has another season where he carries the team on his back with big numbers, he’s going to be considered one of the best in the game. Notably, Washington has Kirk Cousins at back up. If Robert Griffin isn’t available to play the first few weeks due to his knee injury, Kirk will fill in fine as he proved last year. The team has a solid pair of Tight Ends in Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen. Davis, coming off an Achilles injury, really seemed like he was beginning to build a rapport with RGIII until the injury. Paulsen stepped in and was a key 3rd down guy that caught a majority of his targets. Jordan Reed was taken in the 3rd round of the Draft and, though a project player, a lot of fans have faith that he’s going to be a force in the passing game. The Skins’ have a lot of talent on their hands at his position. Pierre Garçon missed time and was never 100% healthy in 2012, but still managed to lead the team in receiving (44 catches, 663 yards, and 4 touchdowns). He and Santana Moss are the key complement players in the passing game. Both tied for most plays over 20 yards receiving (10) and first downs (26). Moss ended last season with 8 touchdowns. Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, and Aldrick Robinson will pretty much round out the rest of the positions. Morgan is a reliable Receiver who does great in run blocking. Robinson snuck past Defensive Backs a few times for big plays last season, and will be looking to have more of those in this coming year. Leonard Hankerson was big for Washington in the middle on slants and posts. Making sure Robert Griffin has time to throw is the responsibility of the Offensive Line. Left Tackle Trent Williams is quietly one of the better players at his position in the league. He’s only allowed 8.5 sacks the past 2 seasons, playing against some of the best pass rushers in the NFL, many who reside in the NFC East. Tyler Polumbus will be the team’s starter at Right Tackle. Will Montgomery, Center, played solid for someone who many fans had concerns about handling the position going into last year. Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger will be the franchises Guards. Josh LeRibeus played solid when called upon at the end of the season. So if Chester or Lichtensteiger have an issue, he should have no problem taking over. Alfred Morris is the Running Back they’ll be opening lanes for. Morris ran for 1,613 yards in his rookie campaign, along with scoring 13 touchdowns. Nobody expected him to have numbers this big, being a 6th round pick, so I’m curious to see how 2013 is going to go for him. Notably, Roy Helu and Chris Thompson will be fighting to back Alfred up. Helu was a nice pick up for the Redskins in 2011, setting the team record for catches in a game, but missed almost all of 2012 due to injury. Thompson was always a home run threat at Florida State and was chosen in the 4th round of the draft. He’s a long shot, coming off season-ending back and ACL injuries in 2011 and ’12, but could prove to be an explosive player. The Redskins offense, 5th overall in 2012 (1st in rushing, 20th in passing), all falls on to the shoulders of its Quarterback. They’re a solid group, but he takes them to another level and will need to be healthy throughout 2013 for success.
Defense: Defensively the Skins’ ranked 28th in the league last year (5th versus the run and 30th against the pass). The leader of the Defense is 16-year vet, Middle Linebacker, London Fletcher. Fletcher led the Redskins in tackling (139 total) and interceptions (5) last year, also registering 3 sacks. London’s presence alone brings certain inspiration to Washington, who will be starting beside Perry Riley. Perry had good stats for his first full year as a starter with 3.5 sacks and 129 total tackles. Brian Orakpo forms a solid pairing with Ryan Kerrigan at Outside Linebacker. Orakpo put up 28.5 sacks over 3 years before being injured in the second game of 2012 and missing the rest of the year. Kerrigan has totaled 16 sacks for the Redskins since being drafted in 2011. They should have the most significant amount of pressure on Quarterback’s than anyone else on the team. Rob Jackson is a notable here as he was a force while replacing Orakpo during his injury. He led the team in tackles for loss with 5 and had 4 interceptions with 4.5 sacks. The Skins’ Defensive Line is responsible for their stellar play against the run last season. Stephen Bowen and Adam Carriker should be the team’s starting D-End’s. In 2012, Carriker suffered a season-ending knee injury and missed a majority of the season. He still might not be ready to play when the season starts and, if so, Jarvis Jenkins would take his spot. Bowen has made the most of his opportunities to be a starter in Washington since being signed in 2011. Another player they signed that same year Barry Cofield, one of the better Nose Tackles in the game, is good at putting stress on pass throwers. Second-String is Chris Baker who comes in at times to spell Cofield, mainly during rushing situations. The Secondary of the Redskins needed a lot of help during the Offseason. The team did just that, making a lot of moves on limited funds. Phillip Thomas was drafted along with Bacarri Rambo to compete for a starting Safety position. Thomas led the NCAA in interceptions with 8 in 2012 and is the favorite to win the position. Rambo has a playmaker for Georgia that will be a nice player to have if Brandon Meriweather cannot make it through the season. Meriweather missed all but one half of football in 2012. In that game, his strong performance had fans envisioning what he would have looked like with the team all season if healthy. The depth at Cornerback got younger and deeper when the team selected David Amerson 51st overall. Amerson led the NCAA in interceptions with 13 in 2011, but had some coverage problems at NC State in 2012. He should be a perfect fit with Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall. Hall tied for the lead on the Redskins in tackles for loss (5), led in pass deflections (14), intercepted 4 passes and had a sack in 2012. Wilson forced 3 fumbles while picking off 2 passes last year. The remaining members of the Cornerback group are E.J. Biggers, Chase Minnifield, and Richard Crawford. Biggers was signed to the team during Free Agency from Tampa. Minnifield came to the team as an injured rookie last season and is trying to see playing time in 2013. Crawford made a big difference in the return game and seemed to feel more comfortable as the season ended. He’ll be the player that I’ll have my eye on early. The Defense for the Redskins is going to get a big boost with Orakpo and Carriker coming back. Their Secondary is young and will have some growing pains, but the team should be noticeably better against the pass. Quarterback stress by the D-Line will be the key to how effective they’ll be in 2013.
End Result: This season is only going to go as well as Robert Griffin does. If he and key members on the team stay healthy, I predict the Redskins will be 12-4 . Now Washington, being last alphabetically, was finished before I had the chance to tag them with the 11-5 record I had in mind. Either way, I had them taking a step forward after 2012.