Redskins Plan B: Do they have the depth to replace injured starters?
Currently the Redskins have seven of their 22 starters recovering from injuries and while some players should recover fully and not miss a beat, other players are likely to suffer setbacks or see a drop in their performance. It is crucial the Redskins have a legitimate back-up plan for all these spots, to insure if need be they are covered. How do the look heading into the final OTA’s and June Mini-camp?
Quarterback (Robert Griffin III) Plan B: Kirk Cousins
-If Robert Griffin III can’t go for any length of time the Redskins are in pretty good hands with 2nd year player Kirk Cousins. Cousins, like Griffin, has the leadership and work ethic that you typically see in good to great quarterbacks. He impressed last year in camp and preaseason, and was forced into duty multiple times last season. For the most part he handled himself very well and teased a bright NFL future. That was in limited appearances, without getting first team reps in practice (or training camp). With a year of experience under his belt, the extra work in practice and the chance to work with his receivers, Cousins could be pretty effective for however long he is called upon. The only issue is he’s simply not on Griffin’s level or able to offer the dual threat ability that RGIII does. Cousins will need additional players to step up if the Redskins are to match their success from last year, but he at least won’t be a quarterback who sets a team back.
Wide Receiver (Pierre Garcon) Plan B: Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson
-If Garcon were to miss time the Redskins should be fairly able to handle the loss. Though no receiver is going to be as big of a threat as Garcon, Leonard Hankerson is not a bad option. He actually put up numbers pretty similar to Garcon last season and should only develop further this year. In addition 5th wide receiver Aldrick Robinson proved himself to be a valuable deep threat last season. If he continues to develop he can help add another element to the Redskins passing attack, which could mitigate the loss of Garcon. In addition to the guys like Hankerson and Robinson who would be getting his snaps, slot receiver Santana Moss and Y receiver Josh Morgan can help replace the production of Garcon while he was out. Moss especially could have a big impact, as he proved himself to be a clutch weapon last season out of the slot position.
Tight End (Fred Davis) Plan B: Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed
-I’m sure the Redskins felt they had a good Plan B in case Davis was injured/ineffective this year, when they drafted pass catching TE Jordan Reed in the 3rd round. Putting Reed into the mix with blocking TE Logan Paulsen and converted WR Niles Paul, gave the Redskins a great mix of skill sets and potential to replace Davis if need be. Unfortunately Reed is dealing with his own injury issues and is probably not much of a threat this season. That leaves the brunt of the job on Logan Paulsen and Niles Paul. Though they did well in replacing Davis last season after he went down with an injury, the hope was that they wouldn’t need to be relied on as much this season, particularly as a primary target.
Cornerback (Josh Wilson) Plan B: E.J. Biggers, David Amerson
-Josh Wilson’s two offseason surgeries were a bit of a shock to the media and fanbase, but they did put into perspective why the team signed E.J. Biggers and used their 2nd rounder on David Amerson. If Wilson can’t go this season, those two corners will need to replace him. Biggers has more experience and the versatility to play inside if need be, but Amerson has a ton of potential. Likely Biggers would get the nod, but Amerson would then come in with the nickel package (though Hall or Biggers would be the slot corner), so both players would need to step up. If Biggers keeps developing and Amerson limits the rookie growing pains he’s expected to have, they should do a pretty good job replacing Wilson.
Inside Linebacker (London Fletcher) Plan B: Keenan Robinson, Bryan Kehl
-This is definitely one of the more troubling “Plan B’s”, as the top option if London Fletcher were to be out is 2nd year pro Keenan Robinson. Though Robinson has some potential, he’s also a guy coming off a midseason pectoral injury so his status is up in the air as well. Even if Robinson is fully healthy, he will have missed practice during the 2nd half of the year last year as well as all the offseason activities this year. That is a lot of development time that is lost, which likely means he’s a bit behind the curve. Bryan Kehl would be the other likely interior option, but he’s always been seen more as a special teamer than an actual ILB option.
Safety Plan (Brandon Meriweather) B: Reed Doughty, Phillip Thomas
-If Brandon Meriweather doesn’t heal well from his ACL surgery, the Redskins have veteran Reed Doughty and rookie Phillip Thomas poised to replace him. Doughty fares pretty well as an in the box type of safety, but he does get in trouble and lose significant value when he’s asked to cover deep. Last year the Redskins used a platoon system with Doughty playing running downs and Jordan Pugh playing in more passing situations. This year the Redskins added rookie Phillip Thomas in the 4th round. Though he could be in the mix for the starting FS spot, he might be given the look at SS (his more natural position) if Meriweather were not an option. One thing the Redskins could consider doing is starting Doughty and Thomas at SS and FS, but on passing downs shifting Thomas to SS and bringing in 6th round rookie Bacarri Rambo as the FS. Though that could be a really good future pairing for the Redskins, it is probably a huge risk to have both rookies playing this year.
Defensive End (Adam Carriker) Plan B: Jarvis Jenkins
-Carriker has suffered a setback and he might be the most likely guy on this list to miss significant time next season. The good news is Jenkins filled in last year for Carriker and while he started off slow, his play really picked up down the stretch. Jenkins is probably a more balanced DE, getting more consistent pressure on the quarterback than Carriker while still maintaining a strong run defense. If Jenkins continues to develop, then he should firmly take over the starting role (and would have done so if Carriker was healthy). The real loss then will be from a depth perspective, as the 3rd DE, will likely see 40% of the snaps in a given season. If that isn’t Carriker it means guys like Kedric Golston need to step up.
What do you think? What Plan B’s worry you and where do you feel like the Redskins can manage the loss?