The Washington Redskins broke camp this year with a 53 man roster that had 18 new players that they either signed or drafted that weren’t with the team in 2011 (either on the 53 man roster or practice squad).Of those new players, many were thought to play significant if not starting roles on this team. Yet with the exception of a few key players, the Washington Redskins haven’t gotten positive early returns from these new additions, and haven’t come close to seeing these guys meet their expectations.
Three rookies have been the only ones so far to buck the trend and actually produce as expected. The good news for the Redskins is one of those rookies, QB Robert Griffin III, was their first round pick, the bad news for the Washington Redskins is that the other two rookies are 6th round rookie Alfred Morris, and 7th rounder Richard Crawford. Luckily both Griffin and Morris have had a major impact on the Washington Redskins, and are a big reason why Washington has been in every game. Unfortunately the same can’t be said for the majority of the Redskins draft picks or their major free agent signings.
-Garcon signed a 5 year $42.5 million deal with the Washington Redskins this offseason. His average value of $8.5 million is the 7th highest average annual value among all wide receivers on multi-year deals, and near the value of a franchise tag. Garcon started out the year on fire, with a four catch game against the New Orleans Saints, where he had 109 yards and a TD before leaving the game with injury early in the first quarter. Garcon then missed the next two games with injury before playing in the last two weeks. Over the last two weeks, Garcon has just 4 receptions in 8 targets (with two drops) these past two weeks. He was also flagged for two costly penalties against the Buccaneers. Garcon has been a big addition in downfield blocking, though other receivers have stepped up in this area. Between the injury and his play the last two weeks, Pierre Garcon hasn’t come close to showing that he was worth the big investment this offseason. Going forward, Garcon has to eliminate the drops and penalties which are just killers for wide receivers. At the same time he needs to show he is capable of more big plays. After 99 yards after the catch on those first four receptions, he’s had just 17 in the four since.
-Morgan signed with the Washington Redskins on a 2 year $12 million deal, and was expected to team up with Pierre Garcon to form a much improved receiving corps. .So far this season Morgan has just 16 targets (4th on the team), 13 receptions, and 159 yards. His 12.2 YPC is the lowest among wide receivers on the team (Fred Davis is above him as well), and he has yet to see the end zone. Like Garcon, Morgan has been very effective as a blocker, and he’s been an effective underneath target (eight of his 13 receptions have gone for first downs), but that doesn’t come close to justify spending the money they did for him. He’s on pace for just 509 receiving yards this year, and that number could be inflated given that Pierre Garcon hasn’t played in 11 of the 20 quarters the Redskins have played this season. Morgan also cost the Washington Redskins a chance to tie their game in St. Louis, when he threw the football at an opposing player at the end of the game. Taking the Redskins from a 4th and 1/47 yard field goal attempt to a 4th and 16/62 yard field goal attempt.
-Meriweather is a naturally talented safety, who has had issues with his previous two employers (Patriots and Bears) due to his inability to learn and play within their system. The Washington Redskins took a shot on him, giving him a 2 year $6 million contract. Since then Meriweather’s Redskins career has consisted of three injuries, one injured teammate and one DUI, while playing in zero games. Meriweather might not be a major upgrade to this secondary, but he couldn’t hurt them at this point, yet the Redskins still don’t know when he will see the field. Coach Shanahan has already confirmed that he will miss at least the next month as he recovers from his latest knee injury and his season very much could be in jeopardy.
-Josh LeRibeus was the Washington Redskins 2nd draft pick this past April (3rd round, 71st overall), and was considered by many to be a reach pick and a project. Most thought the SMU product, was more of a 5th-7th round pick, and not too close to being NFL ready (especially given that he missed his entire Junior year to an academic suspension). Those concerns may have been proven valid, when despite starting LG Kory Lichtensteiger missing all of the preseason due to injury and starting RG Chris Chester missing the first two preseason weeks, LeRibeus still worked with the 2nd team offense. In the five games this season LeRibeus has been inactive for four of them, and didn’t see the field in the 5th game. Despite Lichtensteiger’s struggles this year, LeRibeus doesn’t appear to be a threat to unseat the impending free agent, and claim a job for the future. Though he could still develop and have a productive career, the fact that he’s buried on the roster of a team with little depth speaks volumes. Few other top 75 picks have had as little impact as LeRibeus this season, and plenty of guys drafted after him have played key roles for teams.
-Robinson was the Washington Redskins 2nd of two 4th round picks, and was drafted 119th overall. Though he came in with pretty solid expectations, he’s yet to really show himself in preseason or limited regular season work. On Special teams he hasn’t really established himself, and has just 7 defensive snaps to his name so far. What’s troubling with that is the fact that the linebackers have struggled so much this season in coverage, which is an area where Robinson excels at. Though he is being groomed as the future replacement for London Fletcher, the early returns are a bit disappointing. What’s even more troubling is that more pressing needs were ignored despite the fact that there were quality prospects still on the board.
-Cousins was the Redskins first 4th round pick, drafted 102 overall. Though considered a steal in terms of value, Cousins was a bit of a questionable pick given the massive trade to acquire Robert Griffin the III. This meant that the Redskins essentially spent their 1st, 2nd and 4th round picks on Quarterbacks (to say nothing of two future first rounders). That is quite a bit, given all the holes the Redskins are looking at, and how many good players were still on the board. Though Cousins has shown that he has quite a bit of upside, unlike Robinson and LeRibeus he likely won’t be in a position to ever showcase that with the Redskins.
-Jackson unlike the other names on this list, actually didn’t make the 53 man roster, but still remains a cautionary tale as to the Washington Redskins moves this offseason. Jackson has had dynamic playmaking ability, but injuries, suspensions, work ethic and holes in his game have kept him from being considered a good starter. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers cut ties with their young safety and the Redskins were only too happy to pick him up. If he could get on the field, Jackson was familiar with new secondary coach Raheem Morris, and could hopefully provide at least a solid level of production. Unfortunately getting on the field was harder than it looked as both minor injuries and other “personal” concerns had him missing time in training camp. Those personal concerns turned out to be another failed drug test, and Jackson going through the appeals process. Given his prior offenses, Jackson was automatically suspended for a year (at least). Luckily the Redskins didn’t invest much money in Jackson, but they did invest time which can hurt equally as bad. Having Jackson in the mix could be one of the reasons why the Redskins chose not to address the safety position until the 7th round. What’s most concerning though is the fact that despite knowing that this suspension was looming over Jackson, and even if it were to be reduced he’d miss at least 8 games, the Redskins gave so much of their preseason and training camp work to Jackson. Was it that important for him to beso game ready given the chances of him ever suiting up were so small?
-Griffin signed a one year $2.5 million deal to add depth and be the Redskins nickel corner this year. Despite coming off some down years of late it seemed like a fair deal given, how productive he once was and the fact that he appeared to be fully healthy. Unfortunately Griffin’s level of play has slipped. He’s been a liability in coverage and has basically been outplayed by 7th round rookie Richard Crawford. Griffin has now missed nearly the entire last three games (playing just 2 snaps against the Bengals) due to a hamstring injury, and it is unknown when he will return. It doesn’t look promising that the Redskins will see a return on their investment in Griffin this season.
-It is definitely early enough that some of these guys can change their impact on the season, but it is troubling that so many of these guys that the Redskins used key resources on aren’t producing. Garcon can’t afford many more dud weeks like these last two if he wants to come close to proving his value this year. Josh Morgan is solid, but looks to be no better than the 4th or 5th best target in this offense, one that ranks 26th in the league in attempts this season. It will be very hard for him to come close to proving his value. The Redskins spent $5 million on Meriweather and Griffin to help their secondary and aren’t likely to see any results. Though the long term book is wide open for the Redskins 3rd and 4th round picks, it is troubling that there is zero immediate return, and it doesn’t appear to be a situation that will change this season. For a team with a number of holes and limited resources given both the cap penalty and the trading away of draft picks, the Redskins could ill afford to miss on even a couple of these players, and right now it is looking like they missed on the majority of them (at least for the short term). Not only does that hurt their chances to contend this year, but it puts them in a hole for next year if some of these guys don’t turn it around.