POINT-COUNTERPOINT: Redskins Biggest Weakness This Season?
May 30, 2013 in Redskins Offseason
By Staff Writers John Manuel & Steve Shoup:
What is the biggest weakness of the 2013 Redskins?
Since the Redskins are coming off a NFC division title one would think it is a team with minimal weaknesses. But I think it’s more of a team with some small weaknesses.
Obvious the first one everyone wants to look at is in the secondary. And I would agree after last season it is a concern. Washington's secondary was bad for most of the season but did step up during the seven game winning streak. But I think it’s not their main weakness because if two things. First will be the return of Brian Orakpo which has to help the guys in the back when Orakpo and Kerrigan can get after the opposing quarterback.
Second, I think Mike Shanahan has decided like other teams in the league, offenses are so ahead of defenses now and that we will no longer see the 2000 Ravens. Even the strong 49ers defense got scorched last season at times. So Shanny, Haslett and Allen went for guys like Amerson, Thomas and Rambo who are risks but can make plays and big turnovers happen. I think they are a risk that will work out and make the secondary not the biggest weakness as many feel.
The key will be not how many yards they give up but if they cause turnovers and with the QB like Robert Griffin who shown not to turn the ball over it could be a huge factor.
Though I do think we will see some improvements with the secondary, I'd still list the Redskins secondary as one of their biggest weaknesses. I do think you can point to Brian Orakpo as a big factor, because there seemed to be a pretty direct correlation last year to the level of pressure the Redskins generated and the performance of the secondary.
While the names appear to be better in the secondary this year, we are relying on three rookies (all of whom have question marks) and a guy (E.J. Biggers) who was a part of one of the worst secondaries in the league last year.
The other hope is that Brandon Meriweather will make a big impact, but even that is unclear. He's recovering from a late season ACL injury and not every player can recover at the Adrian Peterson pace. Also, how much of an improvement he'll be is up for debate as well. Let's not forget this was a guy who was benched by the Pats and the Bears.
I do think Mike Shanahan is going to be very reliant on turnovers again, but that was the strategy last year when the Redskins were 5th in the league and it didn't really pay off. If the Redskins don't start limiting yards and catches, the turnovers aren't going to matter much.
The secondary could be a show…not sure if it will be a good one or bad one. But my biggest weakness or maybe it should be called a concern is a backup spot. And not quarterback but left tackle. I think once again the Redskins could get by with a Tyler Polumbus or others on the right side, but if Trent Williams goes down it could be a disaster. And Williams seems to battle through nagging injuries or champagnes bottles to the noggin. If anyone has that video I still want to witness him taking that and not going down!
And we can't only be concerned with injury but also the risk of a one year ban and unlike Fred Davis' position they Skins are not deep at the blindside tackle of RG3. I wonder if Shanahan kept Jammal Brown's cell phone for one last chance? Anyone check what shape Shar Pourdanesh is in?
I do agree this is a major trouble area for the Redskins. Not only is Trent Williams now a bonafide star Left tackle, but the best option were he to go down may be Tyler Polumbus. Polumbus at least has 5 career LT starts, but if he were to play there it would get ugly fast.
Williams was able to fight through injury last year and only missed about a half of a single game, but as you said he's dealt with nagging injuries even going back to his college career. If he were to miss multiple games next season it would have a major negative effect on the offense. In the half in which he missed against Cincinnati, his replacement Jordan Black was a turnstile for the Bengals defensive linemen.
I think another reason why a Trent Williams injury could be so devastating is due to the other question marks along the line. LG and RT could be pretty big holes in their own right, if you add LT to the mix then the line is likely going to collapse. Last season the Redskins were still able to have a functional passing attack even when Garcon was out, because they had other good receivers. I don't think that would be the case if Williams were to go down.
I wonder what Eric Winston's future is and I know you listed him as someone the Skins should still be looking at. What if he doesn't get starter type money and only one year offers? Would the relationship with Kyle Shanahan be good enough to play for lower cash? Could he even be a reliable left side guy if needed? Will it matter when we have the left handed QB Pat White going by week 6? That is a joke.
I do still have some concerns with the wide receiver position as well and I think you have a great point how Silverback could affect them also. We are still not out of the woods on Garcon's foot, Santana is a year older and Josuard Morkerson (Hankerson/Morgan) has not shown to be a consistent weekly target. Is Pierre Garcon is true #1 wideout like he was paid to be?
I forgot to mention Aldrick Robinson and still figure him having an important role with this offense as well. Last season they had a bunch of guys in the 500 yard range for the season. Someone will have to up that to make me feel confident about the options Griffin has in the passing game? We talked about the players but could the biggest weakness be somewhere else? The field, coaches, the battle over the name, etc?
It is definitely shocking that Winston is still on the market, and I absolutely think he'd be a great pick-up for the Redskins. I don't really see him as a LT option if TW goes down, instead I think he'd stay on the right side, but I do think he would be part of the insurance policy for a potential Williams injury. Sure he wouldn't "fill his shoes", but Winston would still ensure the Redskins had a majority of quality starting offensive linemen. It would also mean that only one of Tyler Polumbus or Tony Pashos would be on the field, instead of both of them.
You know receiver is the one position I think I have the least amount of worry. Sure the Garcon injuries, Moss's age and Hankerson's development are all things to watch, but unless all three go bad for the Skins I don't think there is much concern. I don't think Garcon is a true number one and I think that is okay for the Redskins. We aren't as reliant on a single receiver as a number of teams are and I think that is a good thing. I think you'd look around the league and see a number of teams with a better top two receiver pair than the Redskins (though as you said who really is our number 2), but not many teams go four deep the way the Redskins can. When a guy like Dez Bryant goes out it can really set back a passing offense, when Garcon was out it stung the Redskins a little, but it didn't cripple their passing game. Also, with the multiple pass catching tight ends I think the Redskins have more than enough weapons to throw the ball to the 450-500 times they are expected to.
As for other weaknesses I think two things standout above the rest. The field has been replaced, but how does it hold up, particularly when so many key Redskins are recovering from leg or foot injuries. Coaching is another area that could be a bit of a concern. Last year early on the defense seemed to lack an identity and there were reports of perhaps some trouble between what Shanahan and Haslett wanted to do. Winning cured those ills, but if there is an early string of losses could that blow up again?
I have confidence in this team but I think your point of a potential "blow up" is a concern if they start to lose some games especially early on. Remember the high hopes the Detroit Lions had going into last season coming off a playoff performance and young core and it turned into a disaster. It was only about 6 months ago when Washington was 3-6 and Shanahan was coming under fire by some, had a record worse than Zorn and Haslett was a goner.
I have complete confidence Shanahan is safe…unless a rift develops between him and his star quarterback. We think they are on the same page but we also thought prior to the preseason that Shanny and McNabb was a solid pairing.
You do bring up an interesting "controversy" that didn't get much press and that is Robert Griffin's father, basically saying he wasn't happy with how his son was used and he'd like to see him throw the ball more. We rarely see professional athletes parents get involved even if they were a former player, so this was kind of a big deal.
Now I don't fully agree with the assessment that Griffin should be throwing more, as the Redskins should remain a run first offense, but this could be a backlash to how Shanahan handled Griffin in the Seattle game. I do think everything is fine right now, but if there is even any sort of injury (not just regarding the knee), this could flare up fast.
I just want to end on this concerning RG2 and his thoughts on his son's career. Griffin's dad let his thoughts known including that RG3 should have been pulled earlier in the Seattle game. We can debate that all we want even after the fact but I think RG2 should look at that video of his son with Trent Williams. The one when RG3 says to keep quiet that he tweaked his knee again. There are multiple people to blame why Griffin ended up in surgery.
I agree completely with that. Also, I think it is worth noting that it was Robert Griffin III who was apparently ditching his knee brace during practice and insisted on practicing during the Cleveland week instead of fully letting the knee heal.
It's a new season though so hopefully none of those controversies will carry over this year. The Redskins have some key weak spots to watch, and if they can avoid much regression or serious injuries in those areas then they should be fine otherwise.