Previously I took a look at our rivals in New York, and now we move on to focus on our old nemesis; the Washington Redskins. The defending NFC East Champions have bet their future on Robert Griffin III and last year it paid off for them, but at the cost of a serious injury to their intended savior. If Dallas intends to return to supremacy in the division, they will have to get past this old foe. Lets take a look at the 2013 Washington Redskins.
The Redskins should find their defensive line to be improved this coming season. Pass rushing defensive end Adam Carriker returns to the line up after suffering a season ending injury during week two last year. Among the linemen, he is the only real threat to opposing QBs. Joining Carriker will be former Dallas Cowboy Stephen Bowen and nose tackle Barry Coffield. Both are solid run stuffers, but between them only generated 3.5 sacks last year. The other key man in the rotation for the team is 2011 second round selection Jarvis Jenkins, who started in place of Carriker after his injury. He too is a run stopper, but he did not add a single sack last year.
Pass rushing demon Brian Orakpo, who also lost the majority of his season to injury, will make his return in 2013. Along with his fellow outside linebacker, Ryan Kerrigan; Orakpo will add significantly to the heat Washington applies to opposing passers this season. Inside aging London Fletcher is penciled in as a starter alongside the solid, but not stellar, Perry Riley. Fletcher, whose skills are fast fading, will rotate with his eventual successor, 2012 draftee Keenan Robinson, whom the Redskins are depending on to take a major step this season.
In 2012, defensive coordinator Jim Hazlett was forced to resort to exotic, almost "Ryanesque", blitz packages to bring pressure to opposing quarterbacks and to prevent his secondary from being exploited. In addition to the return of two of their key pass rushers upfront, his year the Redskins have invested in their DBs to rectify the second situation. In the second round they drafted corner David Amenson, who was a highly rated, perhaps even a top 10, prospect before a slump caused him to slip down in the draft. He will initially play behind the overrated DeAngelo Hall and veteran Josh Wilson. Second year corner Richard Crawford, who had a decent rookie year, wil also see action. Safety is a bigger concern in the nation's capitol. Washington also invested a high pick on safety Phillip Thomas. For now, the starters are the fragile Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty, whose picture is shown next to the word JAG in the dictionary. Thomas could start at either position in week one.
Right tackle Tyler Polumbus struggled last season, allowing eight sacks, but Washington made no attempt to upgrade. At the other tackle, Trent Williams is a good pass protector but penalties are his weakness. In 2013 he allowed just two sacks, but was flagged numerous time. Moving inside, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger has both matching strengths and the same weakness. Rounding out the offensive line for the team are right guard Chris Chester and center Will Montgomery, both men are very solid. Each allowed a single sack last season.
Receivers and Tight Ends
Veteran wideout Pierre Garcon worked well with Robert Griffin,III last season, when they were on the field together. This year, according to reports, Garcon is still experiencing some issues with a ligament tear in his foot. If he is unable to answer the bell for Washington, the receivers for the Redskins will be Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson. Veteran Santana Moss will once again man the slot. All three receivers are guys that can be expected to provide somewhere between 500-600 yards receiving. At tight end veteran Fred Davis will attempt to return from an ACL tear and third round draft selection Jordan Reed out of Florida will see some action.
The rookie tandem of RGIII and Alfred Morris took the league by storm last season. Morris rushed for over 1600 yards and 13 touchdowns in 2013. Former Heisman Trophy winner Robert Griffin III added another 815 yards and seven scores on the ground. Passing, he added 20 more touchdowns against only five interceptions. He also completed nearly 66% of his pass attempts, while his back up fellow rookie QB Kirk Cousins, who took over after RGIII's knee injury was even more accurate, but at times he did appear somewhat lost on the field.
The Redskins have some questions to answer on defense, but they appear to be taking some steps to provide their fans with answers. On offense, if they can keep their starting quarterback healthy, and if defensive coordinators cannot figure out how to stop the read-option; it could be another good year for Washington. If neither of these factors is met, it could become a long season for the Redskins if they are forced to rely on their passing game or their back up quarterback.