The Redskins captured their first NFC East title since 1999. Redskins are on the verge to a winning culture under the guidance of Robert Griffin III and Coach Mike Shanahan, after a decade of misery. The future looks bright for the Redskins, but can they capitalize on their success and improve as a team?
Griffin’s health is the biggest question heading into 2013. RG3 performed beyond expectation for a rookie and is definitely the franchise quarterback the Redskins has sorely needed for decades. RG3 wasn’t just good for a rookie last season; he was among the NFL’s best quarterbacks, period. The Redskins has to learn to protect him in order to have him for next 10 to 15 years because he is a special talent. The Redskins do not need to rush him back for the season opener because Kirk Cousins is a solid back-up quarterback.
Brian Orakpo is expected to be at full health and full strength. The Redskins should see much better production from both Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, who has always been a high-motor player capable of at least hurrying the quarterback. With Orakpo back in fold, there should be less double teams on Kerrigan as offenses focus on Orakpo. If a defense can’t get at the quarterback, obviously the secondary is going to struggle.
Shocking this is under success column based on last season. But based on the draft, their is hope for the Redskins secondary. Given their cap issue, it was understandable for the Redskins to release cornerback DeAngelo Hall for cap causalities and re-sign him for a lower salary. Hall did not have good season last year but should have a chip on his shoulder. Josh Wilson struggled with injuries last season and should be healthy to show why the Redskins signed him.
So the Redskins chose to focus on the secondary in the draft, which is understandable, with three of their seven choices. Still, CB David Amerson (Round 2) and S Bacarri Rambo (Round 6) come with various red flags. Rambo has talent but it’s up to Raheem Morris and Jim Haslett now to keep him clean and on the field so they can develop his obvious upside from potential into reality.
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Hall will have a prominent role in the defense this coming season, but his playing days are certainly numbered. Redskins are hoping David Amerson can step into a starting role sooner rather than later. Having someone such as Hall around to help Amerson along can only be a good thing.
The team did not do much to change the unit in charge of protecting RG3. Washington gave up 41 sacks last season which is a concern. The Redskins had such good fortune at the offensive line with no major injuries. Inexperience is a concern at many backup offensive line positions. The success of RG3 was probably from the element of surprise. I expect the surprise element to be gone and with multiple NFL coaches reaching out to the college ranks to study the read-option/pistol plus a full off-season to prepare, NFL defenses will be more coached-up to stop it.
The Redskins may use less pistol offense attack to keep RG3 safe in the pocket and may change the offensive identity. The pistol offense works so well based on its deception and disguises to simplifying the game for Washington’s young backfield and ho-hum receiving corps. I believe the pass/run ratio will tilt more toward pass than it did in 2012. Just look at the offseason acquisitions. Redskins re-signed playing-making tight end Fred Davis. They drafted another pass-catching tight end, Jordan Reed, in the third round. They also signed Donte’ Stallworth and Devery Henderson to provide some veteran depth at wide receiver. It is obvious to me like they’re planning to throw the ball more but these guys are not going to be scaring anyone.
They didn’t really improve the personnel at all in the offseason; they’re just going to gamble on the guys who they missed because of injury last year. Redskins’ defense may be better than it showed in 2012 but that is a big “If”. The Redskins are a fairly deep team heading into year four of the Mike Shanahan Experience, but they are short on quality depth behind key starter positions. Some injuries might doom their season.