Every year there are players who exceed expectations, while others fall well short. Whether due to injury or just a drop in production, key players who aren’t producing is one of the more frustrating things for a defense. For some players who fail to meet expectations it can mean their job (and/or roster spot), but others will get another chance at a reprieve. In 2011 Barry Cofield underperformed, but last year he had a good strong year and showed the Redskins why they made him a priority free agent signing the year before. Which of the following players do you expect a bounce-back year from?
Why he’s on here: Bowen was signed in 2011 with the expectation that he was ready to take the next step and become a good quality starting defensive end, with an emphasis on rushing the passer (his specialty in Dallas). Though he didn’t fully live up to that in 2011, he was pretty solid. Last year though he took a step back, and despite playing more snaps than any other defensive lineman he disappeared for times.
What to expect in 2013: Though not a good excuse, it is likely that Bowen saw his production drop off due to the fact that Brian Orakpo was injured. They rush from the same side, and when Orakpo’s not in there a lot more attention was on Bowen. With Orakpo back in 2013, Bowen should be a good bet to see his production rise again, and it could even exceed his 2011 season.
Why he’s on here: Fletcher is still the leader of the defense, but we saw more missed tackles last year, then the previous two years combined. In addition Fletcher’s pass coverage continued to get worse and worse. Though he had seen minor drops in production in the past, he had always been at a Pro Bowl level. That wasn’t the case last year as he dealt with some nagging injuries.
What to expect in 2013: Was his performance last year a sign of things to come, or was it due to the injuries he was dealing with. While it is possible he picks up his play this year, there has to be some real concern that he’s trending downward.
Why he’s on here: Orakpo is the Redskins best pass rusher, but an injury in the 2nd week of the season wiped out the rest of the year. His absence last year nearly prevented the Redskins from making the playoffs, as the whole defense suffered without him.
What to expect in 2013: Orakpo is fully healthy and working out in mini-camp. Though there is always a chance of a setback at this point it is less likely for Orakpo. Also, he’s in a contract year and I’d expect him to put together his best season this year.
Why he’s on here: Hall was constantly picked on last season and was one of two corners to give up over 1,000 yards last year. It was another disappointing year for Hall, and led to him being released and subsequently signed for far less money.
What to expect in 2013: Hall will never be a top level corner, but his style of play was not conducive to the Redskins situation last year. Without Orakpo their pass rush collapsed, and quarterbacks had more time to throw the ball. More time equals a completion allowed for Hall, and it also prevented more mistake passes which Hall typically feasts on. Also with weak safeties, there was no one there to bail Hall out when he blew his coverage. This year those things should be better so Hall’s production should improve, while his mistakes won’t be as costly.
Why he’s on here: Wilson saw his play go downhill last year. While he wasn’t as bad as Hall, he gave up way too many easy completions and big plays. It was later revealed that he played through much of last year with an injured labrum and pectoral muscle.
What to expect in 2013: If Wilson fully recovers from these injuries his level of play should be back to his 2011 levels, and he should be a quality starter for the Redskins. There are always chances for setbacks with these kind of injuries, especially since Wilson had the surgeries after the season.
Why he’s on here: Meriweather ended up playing just one half of football for the Redskins last season, after he sprained his one knee in preseason (and suffered a pair of setbacks), and then proceeded to tear his ACL in his other knee during his first game of the year, wiping out the rest of his year.
What to expect in 2013: Despite Pro Bowls on his resume, the Redskins shouldn’t expect near that level of play. He has been benched and/or cut by his previous two teams, and that is when his knee was healthy. If he can see the field though he should be an upgrade for the Redskins secondary. While it might not be great, any upgrade is a help.