The Redskins are coming off a year in which they broke countless team records in route to winning the NFC East and making the playoffs. While their offense was near the top of the league in 2012, their defense had issues in the secondary. 2013 should be a year in which the offense further develops as young superstar and team leader Robert Griffin III works his way through his second season.
The quarterback position is easily the most important in the National Football League, so it should come as no surprise that Robert Griffin III is the most important aspect of the Redskins offense and team for that matter. Griffin amassed 3200 yards passing with 20 touchdowns (only 5 interceptions) and 815 yards (rookie record) with 7 touchdowns rushing in his 2012 rookie season. It should be expected that RG3 will pass more and run less this season. If he can stay healthy in 2013, 3,600 yards with 30+ touchdowns should be attainable along with 500-600 yards rushing. The big stat everyone should pay attention to with Griffin is the number of hits he takes, the exposure to hits needs to drop in 2013 if they want to keep him in the lineup all year.
One of the major producers of yards in 2013 was Alfred Morris who rushed for 1613 yards last year with 13 touchdowns and finished second in the NFL only to All-Pro Adrian Peterson in yards. Morris’s number one attribute is his ability to make defenders miss him; there were only a handful of times a year ago where Alfred was taken down with the first hit he took. The production from Morris could possibly slip, but don’t expect it to slip much as defenses in the league will still be focused mainly on stopping RGIII and the confusion that the read-option offense creates. In the second year of being in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme Morris should be able to gain in excess of 1200+ yards in 2013. It should also be expected that Roy Helu Jr will gain somewhere between 300-500 yards rushing in the backup role.
In 2012 the Redskins had four wide receivers that obtained 500 yards or better in receiving yards led by Pierre Garcon who had 633 in ten games. That type of production should be expected again in 2013 as the receiving corps for the Redskins has had another year to develop and get used to Griffin at quarterback. It’s not that much of a stretch to think Garcon will get over a thousand yards and Josh Morgan, Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson will each once again have over five-hundred. The position to watch this year as far as extra receiving yardage should be the runningback position. Reports have stated this offseason that Morris has tried to improve that section of his game and Helu is better known for being a pass catcher, the addition of Chris Thompson will also give Griffin another possible pass-catching target out of the backfield.
The special teams unit is entering a transitional stage as Danny Smith left for Pittsburgh after years of being the special teams coordinator and Keith Burns was hired. The Redskins look to give a new look in punt returning this year as last year’s return men Brandon Banks (not resigned) and Richard Crawford (injured reserve) are not on the 53-man roster. Rookie Chris Thompson looks to be the man on punt return duty this season and speed and agility are what he brings as well as good vision. Thompson returned a punt in the preseason 69 yards for a touchdown, which could be a preview of things to come. Sav Rocca and Kai Forbath are back with the team as well as long snapper Nick Sundberg.
The Washington Redskins ended the 2012 near the bottom of the league in total defense and gave up a jaw dropping 4,720 yards passing. The run defense improved throughout the year and finished mid-pack giving up 1532 yards. The one thing the defense from a year ago did with consistency was create turnovers; they intercepted 21 passes and caused 17 fumbles. That kind of production on defense is a major key to a winning season in DC.
To counter the issues the Redskins had in their secondary last year they drafted 6-1 David Amerson from NC State who was an interception specialist in college, Phillip Thomas from Fresno State and Bacarri Rambo out of the University of Georgia. They also brought in free agent EJ Biggers to add depth to the unit.
Another issue the 2012 team had was getting to the quarterback as they finished near the bottom in sacks with only 32 for the year. The low sack total had many wondering if the Redskins defensive (which relies heavily at time on zone blitz packages) problems weren’t caused by the lack of a better pass rush. 2013 looks to be a better year in that category as linebacker Brian Orakpo is finally back, the duo of him and Ryan Kerrigan along with Brandon Jenkins and Darryl Tapp at outside linebacker should give the Redskins a major boast in that category. It’s not that crazy of a thought to think that both Orakpo and Kerrigan could be poised for 15+ sack seasons, if that indeed happens the Redskins defensive unit will be in the top 10 overall defenses in the NFL in the coming season.
The secondary returns ball-hawking cornerback DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Hall didn’t have a great year in the 2012 but did play well down the stretch of the Redskins 7 game winning streak a year ago and finished the year with four inceptions and was much improved in rush defense situations. The leader on defense will continue to be London Fletcher until he decides to hang his cleats up for good. Fletcher is the heart and soul of the defensive unit and spiritual leader of the entire team. In 2012 Fletch had a career high five interceptions even though he was slowed most of the year by lingering ankle injuries.
The Redskins defense was third in the NFL a season ago intercepting 21 passes, returning three for touchdowns. As a unit the defense should do even better than that this year with the added pressure coming from the front seven, quarterbacks will be forced to make passes they normally wouldn’t’ giving the defense added opportunities to create turnovers. Once rookie Bacarri Rambo fully catches up to the speed of the NFL game expect for him to excel in the Jim Haslett’s defense and develop into a top notch safety.
The Redskins gave up an overwhelming amount of yards in 2012, 6043 to be exact, that number should be near or under the 5000 yard mark going forward. It’s reasonable to believe this defense may have its struggles in 2013 but they should be much improved over the unit that preceded them in terms of yardage given up. With the offense that Washington puts on the field and the way they dictate the pace of the game with their lethal running attack, a top 10 defense could push this team over the top and make them a contender this year.
3600 yards passing w/30+ TD’s
500-600 yards rushing 5 TD’s
1200+ yards rushing w/ 12TD’s
300-500 rushing…40 catches, 200-300 yards receiving
1050 yards receiving w/9 TD’s
Should each have 500 or more yards receiving
15+ sacks each