The Redskins are sitting at 3-6 right now and while not out of the division things aren’t looking too promising going forward. The Redskins would need at least 9 wins to have a legitimate playoff shot this year, meaning they’d have to go 6-1 down the stretch. It’s not impossible, but it is definitely improbable given all the concerns on offense, defense and special teams this year. While the Redskins need to play to win, they also need to evaluate this team from top to bottom. The four main areas they have to look at are the following:
-Well the big decision will of course start up top as to whether or not Mike Shanahan deserves another year. Perhaps the decision is just to bring in a personnel guy above him (though that could cause Shanahan to leave). If Shanahan is still here, do you offer him an extension or make him a lame duck coach? If he’s a lame duck coach that could impact his decision making, and chances to hire certain coaches. Then again if you invest more money in him, Shanahan could still risk the future to win now and the Redskins would be further tied to him.
If the Redskins do keep Mike Shanahan around, they clearly have to make some other staffing changes. On offense perhaps they bring in a new offensive line or quarterback coach. They could also look to bring in a top offensive mind to maybe help formulate the game plan, though with Kyle Shanahan as the offensive coordinator, it’s unlikely that Mike Shanahan will take power away from his son.
Defensively Jim Haslett hasn’t had a lot to work with, but he clearly needs to go in an effort to shake up the defense. Ideally the Redskins would clean house among their defensive coaches and let the new DC (hopefully no one currently on the staff) have a say. Given how many have Shanahan ties that might not happen.
Special teams coach Keith Burns has easily the worst all around special teams in the league. Each week there are crucial mistakes that cost the Redskins points and field position. He might not have a ton to work with, but the results simply have to be better.
Names to keep an eye on: OLB Brian Orakpo, ILB Perry Riley, CB DeAngelo Hall, DL Chris Baker, CB Josh Wilson, ILB Nick Barnett, S Reed Doughty, OLB Rob Jackson, OLB Daryl Tapp
-The Redskins have a number of free agents this season, but most probably aren’t going to even be consider to return. The Redskins have money to spend, but that can only bring so many players back, especially if they want to add any potential impact free agents.
Their biggest free agent decision is outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. Orakpo is one of the best defensive players the Redskins have and losing him would create a major hole in the defense. He takes on left tackles which is not a skill that even Ryan Kerrigan has shown he can do with any consistency. Orakpo might not be a star, but he’d be tough to replace. How he performs down the stretch will impact his contract demands and help make the decision to keep him pretty clear. Behind Orakpo both the top OLB back-ups are free agents. Neither could take over a starting role for Orakpo, but the Redskins need to decide how much they want to spend on that depth. Tapp maybe end up being the cheaper option.
Other key free agents are ILB Perry Riley and CB DeAngelo Hall. Riley continues to show he’s a good starting inside linebacker, but he he good enough for a big contract will need to be answered these next 7 weeks. Hall is having his best year in a Redskins uniform (and perhaps his career), but he’s had a number of down years as well. His contract demands shouldn’t be as bad as they were in 2009, but the Redskins need to figure out how much they want to invest in Hall long term. If he keeps up his level of play it could be a good deal, but if he regresses the Redskins may move on. Josh Wilson has become the slot corner this year, though he still starts as David Amerson develops. If he comes back for less money he could be worth it, but the Redskins may look to upgrade. Back-ups Chris Baker and Reed Doughty could be back, but they have clearly shown they are only situational guys (and Doughty on special teams).
Names to keep an eye on: P Sav Rocca, WR Josh Morgan (voided deal), OL Kory Lichtensteiger, OL Will Montgomery, OL Chris Chester, DL Adam Carriker, DL Stephen Bowen, ILB London Fletcher (voided deal), S Brandon Meriweatherr (voided deal)
-Even though the Redskins have a number of free agents they could look to add to the number by cutting a few players and voiding some contracts. Now the deals of Josh Morgan, London Fletcher and Brandon Meriweather will be voided, but the question is are any worth trying to redo the deal to keep them around. Currently that doesn’t look at all likely.
Among the actual cuts they will likely come along the offensive and defensive lines. The Redskins have a lot of money tied up into the lines, but the lack of production from them have been extremely frustrating. The Redskins could look to clean house to clean up their cap and put themselves in the strongest position going forward. With the way the interior offensive line has played this season, all three starters are in danger of being cut (and probably should). Along the defensive line Adam Carriker has been too injured to justify anything beyond a league minimum deal for next season. Stephen Bowen has been able to fight through his injuries, but his play has hurt the Redskins and they simply can’t afford him at that price.
names to keep an eye on: WR Leonard Hankerson, G Adam Gettis, T Tom Compton, DE Jarvis Jenkins, CB David Amerson, S Bacarri Rambo
-The Redskins are going to have a lot of holes to fill next year (see above with the free agents and cuts), though they have a fair amount of money to spend it won’t fix every position. The Redskins need some of their young guys to step up down the stretch to prove that they can fill these roles. Rookie tight end Jordan Reed has done an incredible job this year and is locked in as a starter (and a top target), but will anyone else show that they can earn a starting or key spot in the line-up?
Offensive linemen Adam Gettis and Tom Compton have a shot given that the Redskins could need up to four new starters next year along the line depending on cuts and how the rest of the season plays out. Neither has any NFL experience so the Redskins could look to give them some game action before the season is out to see what they have to work with. Wide Receiver Leonard Hankerson has shown some promise this year, but he’s also disappeared at times. Can he become a solid number 2 receiver is a key question for the Redskins for the rest of the season.
Rookie corner David Amerson will likely be locked into a top 3 corner role again next year, but has he shown enough to prove that he can start and match-up versus some of the league’s better receivers? He’s flashed some potential, but he’s also gotten beat quite a bit and made plenty of rookie mistakes. Rookie safety Bacarri Rambo could have an excellent opportunity next year, but he’s been a mixed bag so far this season. He’s going to have to show a lot for the Redskins to trust him with a starting role in 2014. Defensive end Jarvis Jenkins is going to be one of the more interesting cases, because he’s also heading into his contract year. Jenkins missed his first year due to injury and this season the first 4 games due to a suspension. In between there have been flashes of promise and plenty of other times where he’s struggled. The Redskins need defensive ends to flank Barry Cofield and will consider cutting Carricker and Bowen after this season.