2013 WASHINGTON REDSKINS PREVIEW
July 2, 2013INDIANA SPORTS PAGE
2013 WASHINGTON REDSKINS FOOTBALL PREVIEW
LAST YEAR: 10-6, 1ST IN NFC EAST, LOST IN NFC WILD CARD
HEAD COACH: MIKE SHANAHAN, 4TH YEAR
Everything in 2013 hinges on how Robert Griffin recovers from the knee injury he suffered in the playoffs last year. RGIII was more than just a dual threat QB, he was the leader of the team. Mike Shanahan has put all of his energy and his entire investment into Griffin. The entire offense is designed to take full advantage of Griffins legs and his ability to run play action football. Sow how good is Washington without RGIII? Well, Kirk Cousins is the backup. That’s enough to tell us that the Redskins are in big trouble if Griffin can’t come back close to 100%.
Griffin has been very careful in his recovery and will take his time returning to the field. The offense the Redskins run isn’t all that complex, so it won’t take RGIII long to get caught up if he misses any time. Washington didn’t do much to upgrade the offense from a year ago and that will be ok if several players return from injuries, including TE Fred Davis (Achilles Tendon Tear) and WR Pierre Garcon. Alfred Morris and Darrel Young return at RB, the WR’s are back including Josh Morgan, Garcon, Leonard Hankerson and Santana Moss. 3rd round selection Jordan Reed (Florida) will be used as both a TE and WR. The offensive line returns in-tact with LT Trent Williams, RT Tyler Polumbus, LG Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Chris Chester and C Will Montgomery. No matter who is back, everything hinges on RGIII and the condition of his knee.
The Redskins were a playoff team despite playing without defensive stars LB Brian Orakpo and DL Adam Carriker because of injuries for much of the season. Both are back and will be ready for the 2013 season. This will make the Redskins front seven even stronger since they played so well without them in 2012. DE Jarvis Jenkins, NT Barry Cofield, DE Stephen Bowen, DE Kedric Golston and NT Chris Baker are all back.
The Linebackers are strong led by OLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB London Fletcher, Orakpo and ILB Perry Riley. The big concern for the Redskins defense will be the DB’s. The secondary will horrible in 2012 and they didn’t change personnel except for adding EJ Biggers from Tampa Bay. Washington gave up a league worst 281.9 yards per game in 2012. David Amerson was drafted in the second round out of NC State. Amerson has excellent instincts and ball skills. The area Amerson struggles with is man coverage. Phillip Thomas (Fresno State) was taken in the 4th round. Thomas was one of the best safeties in college football in 2012. Bacarri Rambo was taken in the 6th round out of Georgia. Rambo is a good cover man but needs to be more physical and get stronger.
No matter who is on offense and defense, it all comes down to the recovery of RGIII.
2012 IN REVIEW:
TOTAL OFFENSE: 383.2 (5TH)
RUN OFFENSE: 169.3 (1ST)
PASS OFFENSE: 213.9 (20TH)
TOTAL DEFENSE: 377.7 (28TH)
RUN DEFENSE: 95.8 (5TH)
PASS DEFENSE: 281.9 (30TH)
2013 REDSKINS DRAFT
ROUND (PICK) PLAYER SCHOOL
2 (51) CB David Amerson North Carolina State
3 (85) TE Jordan Reed Florida
4 (119) S Phillip Thomas Fresno State
5 (154) RB Chris Thompson Florida State
5 (162) LB Brandon Jenkins Florida State
6 (191) S Bacarri Rambo Georgia
7 (228) RB Jawan Jamison Rutgers
It’s way too early to determine winners and losers in the NFL draft. And assigning grades is as ridiculous as ranking college recruiting classes on signing day. Often, it takes years to evaluate newcomers accurately.
But this much is clear about the Washington Redskins’ draft: Coach Mike Shanahan displayed a sound approach. He used two of the team’s first three picks on defensive backs — cornerback David Amerson and safety Phillip Thomas — in an effort to improve Washington’s awful secondary. And Shanahan, with the Redskins seeking a long-term solution at tight end, selected pass-catcher Jordan Reed as part of what could prove to be a successful plan. The next phase of the process is the most important.
The Redskins have so many holes in their secondary, a group that was stunningly ineffective against deep passes last season, Amerson and Thomas should compete for significant roles as rookies — if the coaching staff can get them ready in time. Reed may need to learn a lot quickly as well.
Talented tight end Fred Davis returns as the starter, but he’s still recovering from an Achilles’ tendon injury and is on a one-year contract. Shanahan expects Reed to be a playmaker. And Shanahan is counting on Washington’s top three picks to keep the team’s momentum going.
The Redskins, coming off their first NFC East title in 13 seasons, didn’t have a pick in the first round. In the last year of the NFL-imposed $36 million cap reduction, the Redskins made no major additions in free agency.
Still, before the draft Shanahan expressed confidence the Redskins would improve with their seven draft picks. His outlook was based, in large part, on last season’s turnaround. After watching the draft unfold, I understood his thinking.
“If this were a few years ago, when we started, well, yeah, then that would be tough,” Shanahan said. “But you go into it [the draft] with a plan. You go into it knowing what you want to do.”
Focusing on the secondary was a smart move. Last season, the Redskins had the NFL’s third-worst passing defense. Redskins opponents had 27 pass plays of 25 yards or more. That’s a lot.
The inability of the safeties to provide deep support for cornerbacks undermined defensive coordinator Jim Haslett’s game plans. The fact that the Redskins reached the playoffs despite such poor secondary play indicates how well quarterback Robert Griffin III performed in leading the team’s outstanding offense.
Perhaps the newly configured secondary will help out Griffin, who is rehabbing from major knee surgery, and the rest of the offense next season. Amerson possesses enough talent to ignite change.
As a sophomore, Amerson, the Redskins’ first pick, led the nation with 13 interceptions. Most successful cornerbacks fall far short of that total in a four-year college career.
Amerson, who entered the draft as a junior, struggled last season. Chasing expectations, he gambled too much, was undisciplined and frequently out of position. But Amerson has the type of speed — he ran the 40-yard dash in 4.44 seconds — and athleticism Shanahan wants at cornerback. Haslett and his staff will work on smoothing Amerson’s rough edges.
There’s a lot at stake for Amerson. Cornerbacks Josh Wilson and DeAngelo Hall only are signed for one more season. If Amerson delivers, he may have a clear path to the starting lineup.
The road at safety already appears wide open for Thomas. Tanard Jackson has failed so many drug tests, the Redskins can’t count on him. Who knows how Brandon Meriweather will recover from knee surgery?
During the Redskins’ late-season playoff push, Haslett did wonders overcoming the deficiencies of the secondary. At the very least, Thomas and safety Bacarri Rambo, a sixth-rounder who also racked up interceptions in college, provide an infusion of potential and energy on defense. That’s a lot more than Haslett had to work with last season.
“You take a look at Amerson . . . and here’s a corner that’s got some pretty good speed, good length, and he’s come up with some big interceptions throughout his career,” Shanahan said. “And you add a couple safeties with [Thomas] and [Rambo] — two guys that play the free safety position but also play the strong safety position as well.”
Reed should give the receiving corps a boost. For a tight end, Davis is a dynamic, down-the-field receiver. Kyle Shanahan, Washington’s offensive coordinator, did a great job of designing plays that put Davis in favorable matchups against linebackers. Davis, though, could be headed out of town.
Because of Davis’s injury, rising salary and off-field issues – he sat out the final four games in 2011 after failing multiple drug tests – it made sense for the Redskins to search for his eventual replacement.
Reed is raw: He only started 25 games at tight end in college. No problem, Shanahan said.
“What you look for are talented, high-character guys who can help your football team,” he said. “I don’t worry about the experience, or if they didn’t do some things well [in college]. We’ll coach ’em. We just want to find people who fit with what we’re doing in the areas we need them.”
That’s exactly what the Redskins have tried to do. Now, they’ll work to turn unproven prospects into consistent players. Sounds like a plan.
2013 REDSKINS SCHEDULE
Sept. 9 Philadelphia Eagles, (Mon) 7:10 p.m.
Sept. 15 at Green Bay Packers, 1:00 p.m.
Sept. 22 Detroit Lions, 1:00 p.m.
Sept. 29 at Oakland Raiders, 4:25 p.m.
Oct. 13 at Dallas Cowboys, 8:30 p.m.
Oct. 20 Chicago Bears, 1:00 p.m.
Oct. 27 at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m
Nov. 3 San Diego Chargers, 1:00 p.m.
Nov. 7 at Minnesota Vikings, (Thurs) 8:25 p.m.
Nov. 17 at Philadelphia Eagles, 1:00 p.m.
Nov. 25 San Francisco 49ers, (Mon) 8:40 p.m.
Dec. 1 New York Giants, 8:30 p.m.
Dec. 8 Kansas City Chiefs, 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 15 at Atlanta Falcons, 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 22 Dallas Cowboys, 1:00 p.m.
Dec. 29 at New York Giants, 1:00 p.m.
2013 REDSKINS ROSTER