With Training Camp less than a month away, here are 10 questions that need to be answered by the offense this season (in both training camp and the regular season).
-The fact that Robert Griffin III struggled in his sophomore season wasn’t exactly shocking. A number of quarterbacks struggle in their 2nd season as defenses begin to pick-up ways to defend them. Normally though it isn’t as noticed given that few rookie quarterbacks have the level of success that Griffin enjoyed in 2012. Since there was such a wide gap in between the performances it became a much bigger story. Griffin’s injury obviously played a role in the lackluster season, but the question is was it the only reason Griffin’s production fell? The bigger question is how will Griffin perform in year 3. For young quarterbacks this is typically the season when teams realize what they have going forward. How Griffin performs this season will not only determine how successful the Redskins can be in 2014, but it should really put the rest of his career in focus as well.
-Perhaps the biggest hurdle that Griffin will have to overcome is whether or not he can stay healthy this season. While he technically was healthy last season, the reality is he probably should have been eased into the season and not been allowed to start week 1, as he clearly wasn’t ready. Though Griffin is now over a year removed from his 2nd ACL reconstruction, he still carries a fairly significant injury risk. Even though he may physically be back to “normal”, Griffin has a higher chance of another knee injury (and it could be to either knee), than a player without a previous ACL injury. It’s something that bears watching and if there are any minor signs of trouble the Redskins can’t take the risk to allow him back on the field like they did in 2012.
-There is a strong belief by some that the addition of Jay Gruden combined with the free agent signings of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, will see the Redskins turn into a major passing team. The reality is though that might not be the case. For one thing the Redskins threw quite a bit under the Shanahan’s with the exception of the 2012 season (the one year they were actually successful). So chances are if anything their passing attempts will go down after slinging it quite a bit last season. Also, Gruden’s Bengals weren’t known as a major passing team, and it’s not as if they didn’t have quality QB or WR play. With Alfred Morris on the team, you don’t want to get away from an offense that features him.
-One fairly big question mark surrounding how balanced the Redskins will be, is how will FB Darrel Young be used? Jay Gruden wasn’t known to utilize a FB that much in Cincinnati, and in fact didn’t have a natural FB on the roster last year. Young though is one of the best fullbacks in the league, and he’s been a big factor in Alfred Morris‘ success. If Young is utilized less in the offense it could make Morris’ life tougher and make the running game less effective.
-It was a surprising move and on paper it looks like it could be a great move, but Jackson’s success with the Redskins is far from a sure thing. He’s had attitude and lockerroom issues in the past, will those come up with the Redskins and cause an issue, or will everything work out. If issues do occur will they negatively impact the team and cause major issues throughout the lockerroom?
–Jordan Reed burst on to the scene last year and proved himself as a quality weapon. Unfortunately a host of injuries slowed down Reed throughout the year and led to him eventually being shut down. If Reed can stay healthy he legitimately should be a top 10 pass catching tight end in the league. If Reed can reach that level it will be a major boost to the Redskins offense.
-The Redskins offensive line has been incredibly healthy over the last 2 seasons, missing a combined 1 start over those two years. While the line might not have been incredibly strong, the fact that they haven’t had to go to their bench has made the Redskins offensive line better than what you’d expect. The Redskins offensive should have some new starters this year and hopefully the line will improve, but if multiple starters are missing multiple games not only will any improvements be lost, but the overall production could be worse than years past.
-Speaking of the offensive line, will any of the 4 other starters than Trent Williams finally play at a level above average (or greater). While Williams has established himself as one of the top LT’s in the league, the rest of the line are filled with question marks (including some of the additions). If their level of play remains pretty poor, it could greatly impact how much RGIII can grow this year.
-One of the biggest problems that haunted the Redskins last season was their inability to score points (particularly TD’s) on offense in the first half of games. For as bad as the Redskins defense was, their job was made far worse by an inept offense. This put the Redskins in a lot of early deficits that they just weren’t able to come back from. While hopefully the defense will be improved this season, it won’t matter much if the Redskins offense can’t get off to an good start early on.
-Another area where the Redskins struggled was converting red zone appearances into TD’s. After finishing 4th in the league in that category in 2012, the Redskins fell to 21st last season. That is just unacceptable for a team who is built to win on offense. This is an area that desperately needs to be improved upon if the Redskins are to succeed this year.