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What Offensive Skill Position Group Will Be the Biggest Surprise This Year?

Steve Shoup

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As Redskins fans we of course have high expectations for the offense this season, but the reality is this offense has been pretty anemic these past couple of years. What position group do you see having the most impressive and surprising year?

Quarterback:

Robert Griffin could no doubt be a special player and one who can put amazing numbers both rushing and throwing. Unfortunately few rookie QB’s have ever put up even decent numbers so the odds are a bit stacked against this group. Griffin does have a skill set that could thrive in this offense, and his speed could allow him to put up numbers even if the full offense is fuction.

My Prediction: I don’t expect big things, but Griffin should have a decent year statistically.

Running back:

Over the years the Mike Shanahan system (in both Denver and Houston) has found the most success when the rushing attack was in the top 10 (if not top 5) in the league. In two years in Washington the team finished 25th and 30th in yards. This has to improve for Washington to be successful. The bad news for the Redskins is they don’t have a single feature back, and their offensive line is filled with question marks. On the positive the Redskins running game should get a boost with Griffin, who’s running and passing could help create opportunities for the backs.

My Prediction: This is the unit to surprise everyone. I think Helu, Royster and Hightower will form a quality running back by committee and they will finish top 15 in the league in rushing yards.

Wide Receiver:

This group should get a boost in production as the Redskins went out and signed WR’s Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan in free agency, while 2nd year WR Leonard Hankerson is expected to be back healthy after a hip injury ruined his rookie year. Santana Moss is also expected back, to give the Redskins a pretty solid top 4 receiver group. Though the Redskins have a pretty solid group of receivers, they lack a true number 1 (or even a top level number 2), and are going to rely more on the sum of their parts. That can be effective if everything goes according to plan, but for it to work all four receivers need to be producing. The other thing that could keep this group down is the likelihood that with a rookie quarterback the Redskins rely more on the run and high percentage passing (i.e. to the backs and tight ends).

My prediction: Individually I think this group will produce solid numbers, but I feel there will be a lack of opportunities leaving the overall production a bit of a disappointment.

Tight Ends:

This could be an intriguing positional group, as the potential is there for big things. Fred Davis had a career year receiving last year, and looked to emerge as one of the better pass catching tight ends in the league. Chris Cooley is coming off his worst year as a pro, but he appears to be healthy and in great shape. He is just two years removed from a season where he had 77 catches and 849 yards. If he’s healthy he can be a very effective target in the short and intermediate passing games. Special teams standout Niles Paul has moved from receiver to tight end, and even after bulking up for the positional change he should offer great speed and agility for the position. A positive for the group overall is the fact that Robert Griffin will likely utilize his tight ends more as a security blanket. On the downside there are questions surrounding all these tight ends. Davis is a poor blocker, who also has had some route running issues. Chris Cooley has some significant injury concerns and is also a poor overall blocker. Niles Paul could excel in a blocking role (despite a smaller size), but is still going to be pretty raw.

My prediction: This will be the 2nd biggest surprise as I believe they will put up good numbers. I see Davis having a similar year to last season, with Cooley having a nice bounce back year. Niles Paul could improve the team blocking and could offer some solid production potential.

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