MHB’s 2013 Washington Redskins Preview

RG3-RedskinsLike Redskins fans everywhere gearing up for the 2012 season, I was ecstatic. Enthralled by the hope and determination Heisman Trophy winning QB Robert Griffin III instilled and represented. After so many dismal losing seasons in Washington, to say the Redskins faithful were hungry for a winner would be a vast understatement.

That said, I don’t think anyone could have predicted the immediate impact RG3 would have with his production and leadership. By mid-season he was voted a captain by his teammates. And by the end of the season Griffin accounted for over 4,000 yards of offense (3,200 passing-815 rushing), 27 total TD’s (20 passing-7 rushing), with a limited amount of turnovers (only 5 interceptions).

Those numbers are not rookie type numbers, period.

Rookie RB Alfred Morris and RG3 both performed at levels that aren’t normally associated with rookies. They combined to help anchor a Redskins offense that led the NFL in rushing yards (2,709 total rushing yards). Washington’s explosive offense was a huge reason the Redskins were able go on a 7-game run at the end of the season, finish 10-6, and win the NFC East.

But disaster struck on January 6th in the playoffs – the knee buckle heard round the world. RG3 tore the ACL and LCL in his right knee near the end of the Wild Card match-up against the Seattle Seahawks. Leaving his status for the 2013 season uncertain…

2013 Redskins Preview Time!!!

Redskins-RG3-Huddle

If you kept up with the NFL coverage during the off-season, then you know the RG3 watch is in full effect and the injury updates have been aplenty. And rightly so…

Head coach Mike Shanahan and RG3 have both already alluded that Griffin will not play in any preseason games. A shocker, I know. Seems like both men learned a hard lesson last season in dealing with RG3’s initial knee injury vs the Baltimore Ravens and are playing it safe this time round. Though it should be said, he’s coming back from his ACL/LCL injury faster than most who have reconstructive knee surgery. There is a real possibility that Griffin is ready for the season opener against the new-look Philadelphia Eagles on Monday Night Football.

Offensive Outlook:
I believe RG3 WILL be back and ready to go for that opener on MNF, and the Redskins power and speed combo will be on display.

Alfred-Morris-Redskins

Morris broke-out to the tune of 1,613 yards and 13 TD’s last season.

The only difference from 2012: The power won’t be coming solely from Alfred Morris, and the speed won’t be coming just from RG3 and Pierre Garcon.

Play-making TE Fred Davis is back in the fold after missing basically all last season due to injury. Davis is a big body that’ll prove to be a difficult match-up. I expect to see him gashing defenses for 10-15 yards a clip over the middle and down the seam, knowing defenses will have to respect and account for all the speed Washington has on the perimeter.

Speaking of that speed on the perimeter… watching this never gets old:

Anyways, let’s get back on topic here shall we?

It won’t just be RG3, Garcon, Santana Moss, and Josh Morgan challenging to break plays wide open. The Redskins drafted (and I was pretty shocked the Skins were able to land him in the 5th round) an underrated RB by the name of Chris Thompson from Florida State who can fly. Yes, he’s had injury problems, but the dude is a versatile, explosive player. AKA, he’ll fit right in with the team concept – SPEED KILLS. With Shanahan’s history of incorporating multiple backs into his game plan, I expect to see big things from Thompson sooner rather than later. I mean, Alfred Morris took center stage Week 1 last season after being a late round pick. And Morris obviously wasn’t the first late round guy Shanahan found success with – he did the same thing in Denver with Terrell Davis, and a host of other backs.

I remember watching Chris Thompson against Wake Forest this past season… here is a package of each of his touches during the game:

In regards to Robert Griffin III specifically – Don’t be surprised when he has more passing attempts this season. Yes, his speed is a huge asset, but it’s not even close to being his only asset. With more attempts though, more turnovers are bound to happen. Griffin getting through the entire 2012 season with only 5 interceptions is hinging on miraculous.

RG3 is a very accurate passer with ALL of his throws. But we can’t forget – this is the NFL we’re talking about. Not only will opposing coaches and players look to stop the Pistol formations, and the problems it presents, they’ll be looking to put more pressure on RG3. Make him look at more than his first 2 reads whenever he drops back. Because last season, he torched pretty much the entire league with only having the find his first or second reads.

I don’t expect the big plays to dry up, but a rise in turnovers is inevitable.

Defensive Outlook:
The Redskins didn’t have a 1st round draft pick in 2013 (because they traded it to acquire the pick they used for RG3 in 2012), so Washington’s first selection was with the 51st overall pick. Coach Shanahan and GM Bruce Allen used that pick to bolster one of the league’s worst passing defenses by taking CB David Amerson from North Carolina State.

Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan could prove to be a dynamic pass rushing duo.

Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan could prove to be a dynamic pass rushing duo.

Amerson could be a key contributor, I know I’m hoping he is, but the guy everyone is expecting to come back and have a huge year is OLB Brian Orakpo.

With OLB Ryan Kerrigan and Orakpo causing havoc in opposing backfields, it can only help our defensive backfield, which was one of the worst units in 2012. Before I dive more into the DB’s, I have to mention the Redskins re-signing of the heartbeat of the defense – MLB London Fletcher. Even though he’s long in the tooth, having a coach-type on the field is invaluable. Kudos to the Skins for bringing him back.

In his lone game last season, Meriweather had an interception and deflected 2 passes.

In his lone game last season, Brandon Meriweather had an interception and deflected 2 passes.

Veteran CB DeAngelo Hall, who had a sub-par year last season with exception of his Week 17 performance against the Dallas Cowboys and shutting down Dez Bryant, is also back. Hall has still has the talent and speed to cover opposing #1 receivers, its just a matter of him performing to his capabilities. The player in the secondary I’m eager to watch is Brandon Meriweather. Meriweather played in 1 game this past season for the Redskins and was superb. A castoff from the Patroits and Bears now, I think he is an under-the-radar player. A guy who can tip the scale from a good defense to a great defense.

DT Jarvis Jenkins will miss the first 4 games of the season due to a PED suspension and DE Adam Carriker already suffered a season ending injury. Meaning Barry Cofield and company on the D-Line will have their work cut out for them.

Schedule:

The road to the playoffs is never an easy one (unless you’re the Patriots, and continuously get the easiest schedule year in and year out). How does that happen anyway?

After winning the division in 2012, the Redskins have a tough path to endure if they plan on winning the NFC East again.

The NFC East is famous for it’s grueling divisional games and I don’t see this year being any different. To make the playoffs – The Redskins will have to be BETTER than 3-3 within the division.

Outside the division, Washington will have a tall task as well. Facing the NFC North (Packers, Bears, Vikings, Lions), AFC West (Broncos, Raiders, Chiefs, and Chargers), AND a week 12 match-up vs the 49ers/ week 15 match-up vs the Falcons.

Summary and Prediction:

Team chemistry and leadership propelled the Washington Redskins to the top of the division last season after a 3-6 start. They came up with clutch plays at crucial times to win close games. This year we’ll find out if that is in this team’s make-up, or if Washington run at the end of the season was just a hot streak. With a super tough schedule, the Redskins will have to be a team that plays with rhythm and confidence on both sides of the ball.

I’m thinking that returning key contributors like Fred Davis, Brian Orakpo, and Brandon Meriweather will only add to the chemistry and on-field production. The core that is already in place is young, but very talented. They proved last season exactly how dangerous they can be.

I know the Redskins are a sexy pick to win the division this season, but I don’t know what to make of the other teams in division yet. At 10-6, I think Washington will be in the mix to win the NFC East, but will probably end up with a Wild Card birth.

Hail To The Redskins!!!

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