NFL’s Future is counting down the 2012 season opener with its preseason Power Rankings. We provide in-depth team previews and schedule analysis as the NFL season draws near.
23. Washington Redskins
I have to start this one by forewarning reader’s that I’m a Robert Griffin III fan. I would like to credit myself with being the President of the RGIII fan club but I’ll hold off on that one. The Redskins offense was anemic, at times, last season with the combination of Rex Grossman and John Beck behind center. It certainly will take on a new look this season. The ‘Skins mortgaged a lot of future draft picks for the services of one, Robert Griffin III. A bargain in my opinion. Mike Shanahan will condense the playbook and allow RGIII to be RGIII. With added weapons and a good defense, the ‘Skins could challenge some teams in the vaunted NFC East.
The offense will demand better quarterback play. The ‘Skins were burdened by turnovers last season by two inept starters. RGIII will make rookie mistakes but fewer turnovers will be a welcomed addition to this offense. Shanahan’s ability to trim the playbook and take advantage of Griffin’s supreme athletic talents will determine the success of the 2012 Washington Redskins.
Outside of Griffin, the Redskins added some valuable playmakers to the offense. Pierre Garcon was the big addition this offseason and he gives Griffin a deep threat to test his excellent arm. Josh Morgan was another underrated addition to the offense. Morgan has been banged up and underutilized throughout his career despite flashing signs of playmaking ability. Morgan and Garcon can give Griffin formidable weapons with the ability to gain yards after the catch. Second-year wide receiver Leonard Hankerson could turn the corner during his sophomore campaign as defenses will be geared towards stopping the Garcon to Griffin connection. A solid tight end is an important piece for a young quarterback and the Redskins have one in Fred Davis. Long-time tight end Chris Cooley was recently released so the bulk of work will go to Davis, who could be a candidate for a trip to Hawaii.
Washington’s running back by committee approach will be headed by Tim Hightower, Roy Helu and surprise rookie Alfred Morris. Hightower and Helu were more than capable backs last season, however Hightower is coming off a torn ACL. Morris’ preseason rise to fame should help this group dramatically.
Washington’s offensive line doesn’t exude a lot of confidence in fans. They were banged up last season including losing guard Kory Lichtensteiger to torn knee ligaments in mid-October. This group will by the lynchpin to Griffin’s first year success.
The bright spot of the 2011 season was the development of the defense, specifically the front seven. They return intact for the 2012 season and look to be the strength of this team.
The defensive line is led by Barry Cofield, Adam Carriker, and Jarvis Jenkins. Jenkins was being hyped as the team’s best DL before he was lost for the season due to a torn ACL. Re-signing Carriker will be huge as he probably had his best season as a pro. Cofield adjusted to the 3-4 scheme as the season wore on and should be much improved in 2012.
The strength of this team lies with the linebacking group. London Fletcher was brought back to lead the defense. Fletcher racked up a team high 166 tackles in 2011 and appears to still be going strong. He will be joined by Perry Riley in the middle and flanked by Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. Kerrigan and Orakpo form one of the most fearsome pair of edge rushers in the league and should only get better with time.
The secondary is worrisome for the Redskins. Specifically, the play of the safeties. Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams will man the safety spots. Both have bounced around the league and could give Jim Haslett ulcers by the end of the season. The ‘Skins are solid on the outside with DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson but lack depth at the position. They were able to bring in ex-Viking Cedric Griffin but health is always a concern with Griffin.
The Redskins 2012 schedule pits them against eleven teams with at or above .500 records in 2011. Relief will come in week two early on the schedule with four of the first nine games consisting of St. Louis, Tampa Bay, Minnesota, and Carolina. The backend of the schedule is brutal as they draw five divisional opponents following a week 10 bye.
Sept. 9 – at New Orleans
Sept. 16 – at St. Louis Rams
Sept. 23 – Cincinnati Bengals
Sept. 30 – at Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Oct. 7 – Atlanta Falcons
Oct. 14 – Minnesota Vikings
Oct. 21 – at New York Giants
Oct. 28 – at Pittsburgh Steelers
Nov. 4 – Carolina Panthers
Nov. 11 – BYE
Nov. 18 – Philadelphia Eagles
Nov. 22 – at Dallas Cowboys
Dec. 3 – NY Giants
Dec. 9 – Baltimore Ravens
Dec. 16 – at Cleveland Browns
Dec. 23 – at Philadelphia Eagles
Dec. 30 – Dallas Cowboys
There are no doubts that the quarterback position cost the Redskins some close games in 2011. I fully expect a better outcome from that position which should lead to some more wins for the ‘Skins. They play in a brutal division with teams that underperformed last season. I think the Redskins improve by two wins this season and finish with seven W’s.