Redskins Debates: What to Fix on Offense First This Offseason:

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The Redskins offense is much further along than their defense as they have a young potential star quarterback, an elite running back, a top tier left tackle, a very good wide receiver and a high upside rookie tight end. That is 5 of the 11 starting positions on offense including the two most important ones at quarterback and left tackle. While the RGIII may take some to reach his full potential the Redskins have some weapons to help him out. Morris gives them a running back who can carry this team, and Pierre Garcon and Jordan Reed gives them two really good weapons to help Griffin’s development. Outside of those 5 guys though the Redskins offense is pretty bare (Darrel Young is a very good fullback, but he sees 40% of the snaps at most). The Redskins could use up to four new starters along the offensive line and one or two receivers to add to Griffin’s targets.

Wide Receiver vs Offensive Line:

The big debate for the Redskins is do they prioritize offensive linemen or wide receivers this offseason when they are trying to bolster this unit. Both are definitely needed, but it seems clear that the offensive line is the bigger issue, especially in the short term for Griffin’s development.

Despite all of Griffin’s potential he’s very raw in a number of key areas like making projections and feeling pressure in the pocket. That wasn’t his game in college and last year as a rookie the Redskins were basically a one read offense. These are two areas that Griffin needs to develop to be a successful quarterback in the NFL, and they are both hard to do behind a porous offensive line. A quarterback who is experienced going through progressions may be able to get the ball out behind this offensive line, but Griffin just doesn’t have that ability. By the time he’s making his 2nd and 3rd reads he’s under pressure and it becomes a broken play. The same is true for Griffin and his pocket presence. A more experienced quarterback may be able to read these blitzes or know where the defense is, but Griffin is still learning in this department. While Griffin is learning, the Redskins need to offer better protection so he’s not taking unnecessary hits and can still make plays.

Improving the offensive line also has the added benefit of helping out the entire offense. The Redskins should be more run oriented right now as Griffin develops and Morris shows he’s one of the top backs in the NFL. Building up a quality offensive line not only protects Robert Griffin III better, but it makes the job that much easier for Alfred Morris. If Morris is running effectively than there is less pressure on Griffin. Not only does that mean that Griffin doesn’t have to throw as much, but it will mean that the Redskins are typically in more 3rd and short situations as opposed to now. Third and short is a lot harder on the defense and it means they blitz less.

The other reason that offensive linemen are needed over wide receivers is the numbers game. There are five offensive linemen in on every play and 5 eligible receivers able to go out on a route. Of those 10 guys the Redskins have 1 offensive lineman locked in and two eligible receivers. In reality the Redskins have three eligible receivers set as typically one of those guys is a running back/fullback (sometimes both) and between Morris (who should be involved more in the passing game), Roy Helu Jr and Darrel Young the Redskins are set. Also, while the five offensive linemen block on every play, the 5 eligible receivers don’t go out on every pass. Most plays are only going to call for 3 or 4 eligible receivers to go out for the pass. So if the Redskins have two of them locked down they are doing pretty well.

The Redskins receivers and tight ends can definitely be better, but with Garcon and Reed leading the way they are hardly the worst in the league. That is more firepower than a number of teams have atop their target list, including a number of playoff caliber teams. Leonard Hankerson had started to emerge as a solid target as well. Maybe not a true top number 2 receiver, but a solid third weapon on this team. His ACL injury does put his status for next year up in the air, and does mean the Redskins will need to spend some resources on the position. I would look for the Redskins to add at least two receivers, but they probably shouldn’t take a higher priority over adding another offensive lineman or two first.


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