Robert Griffin, III continues to make his way back from surgery on his knee and for his sophomore season he has not been nearly the running threat that he was as a rookie. Apparently heeding the advice of Dr James Andrews, the Redskins are focusing on Griffin's development as a pocket passer this season, rather than relying on his ability to get outside and make things happen with his legs. Of late the Skins quarterback has shown that he is still willing to take off with the football when needed, but as of now, his explosiveness has not returned. Considering that the Washington offense relies on RGIII to be a dynamic playmaker, it is not surprising that the team has experienced some issues.
Up front, the weakest link for the Redskins is Tyler Polumbus, the right tackle. Pass protection has always been an issue for Polumbus; in 2012 he led the team with eight sacks allowed. The left tackle, Trent Williams is a much better pass protector than Polumbus, his biggest issue is penalties. He was flagged eight times last season. Inside Kory Lichtensteiger, the left guard, suffers from the same malady, he drew ten penalties in 2012. Center Will Montgomery and right guard Chris Chester are solid performers, each allowed only a single sack last year. With Griffin learning to climb the ladder up into the pocket, his pass protection should improve as the season goes on.
The favorite weapon for RGIII this season has been Pierre Garcon, who is currently on pace to set a new Redskins record for receptions in a season. His other receiving targets will be Leonard Hankerson, Josh Morgan, and Santana Moss. This group has come under fire recently for their inability to take the load off of Garcon and to provide Griffin with options in the passing game. Moss, in particular, always seems to have a little something extra when he faces the Cowboys. At tight end, veteran Fred Davis is being pushed out by rookie Jordan Reed. Logan Paulsen is also an option at TE but could be out this game due to injury. In the backfield the Redskins feature second-year back Alfred Morris who, thanks to Griffin's knee, will be carrying the primary load in the running game. Roy Helu will be the secondary runner while fullback Darrel Young will serve as the lead blocker
Having fulfilled his suspension for substance abuse policy violations, right defensive end Jarvis Jenkins can be expected to see some action, and possibly even be the nominal "starter" on Sunday. Until he plays his way back in to game shape however; Kedric Golston will see the majority of snaps for Washington. Former Cowboy Stephen Bowen will man the other defensive end, while Barry Cofield will handle the nose tackle slot. Chris Baker and Chris Neild will also see some time in the rotation for the Redskins. The defensive line in Washington is more known for it's run stopping skills, rather than it's ability to generate heat on the passer. In 2012, they accounted for just 3.5 sacks among the starting trio of Bowen, Cofield, and Jenkins.
Outside the Redskins feature two of the better pass rushing linebackers in the league: Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. Last season, without his running mate, Kerrigan accounted for 8.5 sacks. Having Orakpo back should free him up to generate more pressure since teams will now be forced to account for a pass rush from both sides. Inside, London Fletcher is back for another season along with Perry Riley. Riley is a decent piece in the middle, but time has taken a toll on Fletcher's abilities. The biggest thing he brings to the Washington defense is his experience in making pre-snap adjustments. His heir apparent, Keenan Robinson, is out with a torn pectoral muscle.
The glaring weakness in Jim Haslett's defense is the secondary. At safety, veteran Brandon Meriweather has returned, but he is fragile at best. Rookie Bacarri Rambo started the first two games in Meriweather's stead, but has yet to see a snap since his return. Joining Meriweather will be Reed Doughty, a player whose biggest contribution to the Redskins is as their special teams captain. At the corners, Washington has DeAngelo Hall, an over-rated cornerback with an overactive jaw, and Josh Wilson who is a solid, but not stellar corner. The third corner will be David Amerson, a rookie who is showing some signs of being the Redskins corner of the future.
Placekicker Kai Forbath is expected to return from a groin injury this Sunday. In 2012 he was 17 for 18 on field goals, including a perfect 12 for 12 from beyond 40 yards, including one attempt of 50+ yards. Punter Sav Rocca finished near the bottom of the league last year in net yardage and in kicks downed inside the twenty yard line. In fairness to Rocca, it should be mentioned that he played nearly the entire season with a torn meniscus in his right knee. Last week, the Oakland Raiders were able to break through and block a Rocca punt for a touchdown.
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