NFC East preview: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins
2012: 10-6,first in NFC East
Lost in 1st round of playoffs

After a 10-6 season that led them to their first NFC East title since 1999, the world that surrounded the Washington Redskins came crashing down during their playoff loss to the Seattle Seahawks when the future of their franchise, then-rookie phenom quarterback Robert Griffin III, went down with a devastating knee injury that many felt had the potential to jeopardize his young career.

Fortunately for the Redskins, Griffin is reported to be playing at full speed and while fourth-year head coach Mike Shanahan remains overly cautious, it looks as though Griffin will be ready for week one.

As with every NFL team, 2012 had its share of injuries and disappointments, but another division title in 2013 may be in the cards for the cash-strapped Skins and if not, the season ahead is sure to prove entertaining on a team that includes some exciting young players on both sides of the ball.

The Following does not include any special teams related information because with the exception of a few key players, the majority of the special teams units won’t be finalised until final roster cuts.


Starting with the first week of the regular season in 2012, the Redskins established themselves as a very dangerous team on the offensive side of the ball.

With a pair of rookie wonders in Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris, Washington ended the year ranked fourth in scoring, as well as the fifth in both total yards and touchdowns.

Now entering his second year behind center, Griffin’s aggressive style of play has already begun to the affect his ability to stay on the field, leaving many to wonder just how long their star quarterback can last at this pace. In Griffin’s absence, backup quarterback Kirk Cousins proved himself worthy of the job and has even begun to attract interest from other NFL teams with issues at the position.

Nevertheless, Griffin seems determined to start week one and according to many eyewitness accounts, is more than ready to retake his position as the Redskin’s on-field leader.

With Cousins as the primary backup, returning veteran Rex Grossman will once again start the season as the third string pivot. Currently, Washington is also taking a look at former West Virginia star QB Pat White, who isn’t an NFL-caliber quarterback and barring any injuries, is expected to be cut prior to the start of the regular season.

The offensive line is arguably Washington’s most consistently reliable unit on either side of the football and is full of veteran talent that bring a lot of valuable experience to the table. Starting at left tackle, former first-round draft pick Trent Williams, returns for his fourth year and will line up next to left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, who will need to avoid being penalized as much as he was in 2012.

In the middle, center Will Montgomery is entering his eighth year as a pro and will line up next to right guard Chris Chester, a former second-round pick out of the University of Oklahoma who also brings eight years of NFL experience to the unit. At right tackle, Tyler Polumbus is the projected starter, but is also considered to be the “weak link” of the group and will be challenged for playing time by 10-year veteran Tony Pashos, as well as former second-round pick Jeremy Trueblood.

At wideout, Pierre Garcon definitely displayed a connection with his quarterback in 2012 and after an injury-plagued season, enters his sixth year determined to capitalize upon his chemistry with Griffin as the starter. Behind Garcon, former sixth-round draft pick Aldrick Robinson is full of potential and also plans on having a much larger role in the near future.

Starting as the second wideout, Josh Morgan is the lead option, but will be challenged all year by 13-year vet, Santana Moss, who will also start in the slot. Third-year wideout Leonard Hankerson will also be looking to play a larger role, depending on how many receivers Washington decides to carry on their roster.

The Redskins brought in Devery Henderson as well as Donte Stallworth during the off season and both have the potential to be useful additions to the wide receiver corps if they’re not released prior to the start of the regular season.

Fred Davis will start at tight end after missing 2012 due to injury. When healthy, Davis has the potential to be one of the NFL’s most productive pass-catching tight ends and is entering his sixth year out of USC.

Besides hitting the jackpot when they drafted Griffin in 2012, the Redskins also hit it big when they chose second-year starting running back Alfred Morris in last years draft. As the starter, Morris tallied 1613 yard along with 13 touchdowns and third-year running back Roy Helu who also missed all of 2012 due to injury, will start the season as the primary backup.

Also competing for playing time is third-year back Evan Royster, who could also play his way up the depth chart. At fullback, the Redskin’s are expected to start former Villanova Wildcat, Darrel Young, who is entering his fourth season in the NFL.


Defensively, coordinator Jim Haslett did an exceptional job in 2012, especially considering the injuries suffered by some of the Redskin’s most important defenders.

In 2013, Haslett will once again have a unit that will start the regular season fairly healthy, a welcome change from almost all of last season.

Based on the 3-4, third year defensive end Jarvis Jenkins is solid against the run and will start on the left as he continues to occupy Adam Carriker’s spot until the former Cornhusker is able to return, while former fourth-round draft pick Barry Cofield, returns for his eighth year and is expected to start at nose tackle.

On the right, Stephen Bowen will provide pressure on opposing QB’s and is the projected starter in his eighth year out of Hofstra University.

In 2012, the Redskin’s pass rush suffered largely due to injuries and despite numerous schemes, wasn’t helped by the trio of Jenkins, Cofield, and Bowen, who combined for only 3 1/2 sacks all season.

Washington’s linebacking corps will be led by Brian Orakpo, who is returning from a season-ending injury suffered during the second week of the 2012 regular season. Orakpo is expected to start at right outside linebacker, while former first-round draft pick, Ryan Kerrigan, will line up at left outside linebacker.

On the inside, 38-year-old London Fletcher returns for his 16th year as a pro and despite a sub-par performance last season, is still widely considered to be one of the game’s best linebackers. Opposite Fletcher, Perry Riley registered 129 combined tackles last season and is expected to start as the right inside linebacker.

At cornerback, 10-year veteran DeAngelo Hall will return as the starter on the left and despite his four interceptions in 2012, is far from the shut-down corner he once was and gets burnt too often.

Former Maryland Terrapin Josh Wilson, will start as the right corner, while 2013 second-round draft pick David Amerson, is expected to compete for playing time in his first year as a pro.

Brandon Meriwether is expected to be the full-time starter at strong safety but at the moment, is still recovering from ACL surgery and is unlikely to be ready for week one.

In his absence, backup Reed Doughty started 11 games in 2012 and will continue to act as Meriwether’s replacement as long as it’s needed.

Backup free safeties Dejon Gomes and Jordan Pugh could also see time at strong safety in a reserve role if necessary. Starting at free safety, 2013 sixth-round draft pick Bacarri Rambo is a solid athlete, but could also be challenged by Gomes and Pugh for playing time.

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