Now that the Redskins roster has been set we can begin to look ahead to see the strengths and weaknesses of this roster as we head into the season.
Robert Griffin III took the league by storm last year and led the league in both passing yards and rushing yards per attempt. He is coming back from a serious knee injury so it’s likely he won’t improve much from last year (not that he really needs to). Behind him the Redskins have one of the best back-up quarterbacks in the league in Kirk Cousins, who could probably start on at least 10 teams in the league. Rex Grossman isn’t someone you want starting alot, but he’s a smart veteran quarterback and by far the best number 3 QB in the league.
Alfred Morris proved himself to be one of the best runners in the league last season. He displays great vision and strong legs that allow him to pick up plenty of yards after contact. He figures to be once again one of the better running backs in the league, and is absolutely integral to the Redskins success. Roy Helu Jr. looks to be highly motivated this year after missing last season due to injury. He should be a good change of pace back and a weapon out of the backfield. Evan Royster had a strong preseason and could be a solid runner if needed this year. Rookie Chris Thompson may not get many opportunities, but by the end of the year they could try to work him in the rotation given his break-away speed.
Fred Davis isn’t having any ill effects from this torn Achilles last year and he should be a good pass catching TE for the Redskins. Behind him the Redskins have blocking tight end and solid pass catching Logan Paulsen. Paulsen filled in pretty well for Davis last season, and will be a big part of this years team with his strong blocking ability. Niles Paul could find a bigger role for himself this season if he can improve his pass catching ability. Rookie Jordan Reed may be buried on the depth chart, but if he’s needed the Redskins should have another weapon.
The Redskins may lack elite receivers, but this is a very talented group as a whole. Pierre Garcon is the go to guy and his speed and route running, causes plenty of mismatches for opposing defensive backs. Santana Moss is no longer a true starter, but had a huge season in the slot last year for the Redskins. He should once again be a key piece in this offense. Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson, aren’t stars, but they are solid and get the job done. Aldrick Robinson could carve out a bigger role this season, but at the very least is a major deep threat.
Even with Keenan Robinson out for the year and Rob Jackson missing the first 4 weeks, this figures to be a very strong unit. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are great pass rushers, who should be nightmares for opposing offenses. ILB Perry Riley gets better every season and could be in line for a huge season. London Fletcher struggled some last season, but hopefully he’s healthier this year and ready to go. Behind the four starters the Redskins have a really good group with OLB’s Brandon Jenkins and Darryl Tapp and ILB’s Nick Barnett and Bryan Kehl.
Even if the starters play 96% of the snaps like they did a year ago, this unit would barely be on the cusp of the top 20 in the league. Through Trent Williams, Chris Chester and Will Montgomery are good to great players, the Redskins are still relying on two starters (Kory Lichtensteiger and Tyler Polumbus) who were below average to down right awful last year. What’s most concerning though is the fact that the Redskins will likely need their back-ups for a greater percentage of time this year, and this is where the Redskins have serious problems. They kept three 2nd year players, who combined have 0 stars and just 71 plays between them. None of them looked particularly great in the preseason, and if they are needed for extended action it could be a big problem.
For the first four weeks at least, the Redskins should be concerned a little about their defensive line. Starter Jarvis Jenkins will be suspended during that time period, and he was a guy the Redskins were counting on to breakout this year. That could still happen, but it will only be for 12 weeks (plus playoffs) if it does. With Adam Carriker out, depth is an issue (especially earlier on). One other concern is that Barry Cofield is dealing with a fractured hand. Though he’s still expected to play, he probably won’t be at 100% this season.
DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are back, though both are probably less than 100% as they’ve been dealing with nagging injuries so far in camp. Free agent E.J. Biggers hasn’t looked particularly great in camp, and while he might be solid, he’s probably not going to be an upgrade over last season. Rookie David Amerson flashes big play ability, but he’s also had some big miscues in limited chances this preseason. With Richard Crawford injured and Chase Minnifield on the practice squad, the corner position is a bit thinner than what was originally thought heading into the preseason.
While right now it appears that Brandon Meriweather is ready to play, the confidence level of Redskins fans should remain low. Meriweather has already dealt with one set back that kept him out multiple weeks of camp/preseason, and with his work scheduled to increase the chances of another setback are much higher than you’d like to see. In addition to the risk of re-injury, it’s likely Meriweather’s level of play will be compromised. Though he had a big reputation, Meriweather is a streaky ball player who has gotten benched by his last two coaches. On top of that he’s recovering from a knee injury and has collectively 1 half of regular season work, and maybe 3 quarters of preseason work since joining the Redskins. If the Redskins can get average level of production out of him this year they should call it a win.
Starting opposite Meriweather this season will be 6th round rookie Bacarri Rambo. Rambo has a lot of promise, but he’s also shown some streaky play in the preseason and it’s only going to get tougher from here. Rambo should be an upgrade over what they had last season, but it might not be a big upgrade. You have to expect there will be some rookie miscues throughout the season, which depending on the situation could cost the Redskins deadly.