This is the third year I’ve tried to write an end of the season report about the Redskins. I didn’t see too many games in 2010 and 2011, so it was a little difficult, but the teams weren’t that good so it was more about finding nuggets of hope. This last season was different. Before training camp I predicted that the Redskins were headed for a 6 win season, but that if everything fell into place and they caught some breaks, the team could finish 9-7. The Redskins had a year, that, if people re being completely honest, surprised a lot of people. They ended with a 7 game win streak to finish 10-7 and win the NFC East. Never saw that coming. Definitely not in the 2012 season. I thought the Redskins could/should beat the Saints, St Louis, Cincinnati, Minnesota, Carolina, Philadelphia, NY Giants, Cleveland and Dallas (winning the division home games). I had 6 out of 9 right. Who knew that the Eagles would stink so bad or that the Skins would beat Dallas, in Dallas, on Thanksgiving?
Winning their division gave the Redskins a home playoff game. That was the good news. The bad news was that they had to face probably the one team they didn’t want to face, the Seattle Seahawks. The Seahawks were riding their own 5 game win streak and were playing as well, if not better, than any other team in the league. The Seahawks had eliminated the Redskins the last two times they made the playoffs, but both of those games were in Seattle. Apparently playing at home didn’t make much difference as the Seahawks rallied to beat the Redskins 24-14, once again, ending the Skins season. I’m not going to talk about that game as I want to try and remain somewhat positive and optimistic.
Since I’m trying to be positive, let’s start with the surprises from the 2012. At the top of the list has to be Alfred Morris. Where did this guy come from? Talk about making the most of your opportunities. A 6th round pick out of Florida Atlantic who was forced into action because of injuries to presumed starter Tim Hightower and his backup, Roy Helu, all Morris did was set a team record for rushing yards in a season, 1613, and rush for 13 touchdowns. Here’s hoping this is the standard and he’s not Timmy Smith.
The second surprise for me was Logan Paulsen. I saw him as a third TE at best who hopefully wouldn’t miss too many blocks. He really stepped up after Fred Davis was injured and was a better pass catcher that I could have ever imagined. He may not have the hands of Davis or Cooley, but he is a definite plus for this team.
Santana Moss provided veteran leadership for the team and I think he has finally found a role that suits him. I used to be down on him when he was the number one option because I didn’t think he was anything more that a number two receiver. This year, he was the number three guy and all he did was catch 8 touchdowns (lead the team) and kept drives alive with key catches on third down.
The offensive line held up well throughout the season. They are a young group and if they can stay healthy, could be a strength of this team for years to come. If Trent Williams can keep his act clean, he will be a Pro Bowler for years. Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis performed well for rookies and could develop into strong starters in the next year or two.
Now for a few, not so positive things. The team needs to end the Brandon Banks experiment. He was completely ineffective this year. Richard Crawford filled in well on punt returns and while I don’t think he’s a long term solution, Niles Paul handled kickoff returns well. Banks is too erratic and does not make good decisions.
I have no idea what the team will do with DeAngelo Hall, but I assure you, whatever they do, it will be the wrong thing. He has expressed interest to stay with the team, but I don’t know how I feel about that. The man is talented and was second on the team with 4 interceptions, but he is good for a 15 yard unsportsmanlike penalty every game. And it always seems to come at the worst time. He’s a good tackler who doesn’t like to do it and is more interested in trying to strip the ball than anything else. I’d say let him go, but the moment you do that, he’ll become an All-Pro elsewhere.
The defense, as a whole was not consistent, but they certainly got better after the bye week. In the first nine games of the season, the defense gave up an average of 398 yards and 27.5 points per game. After the bye, those numbers dropped to 352 and 20. If the defense continues to play as it did in the back half of the season, there’s not too much to worry about. Play as they did in the first half of the season and 2013 will be a long season and not because of making the playoffs.
I don’t like to blame injuries for a poor performance because every team has injuries. I tend to look at what healthy players might mean moving forward. Losing Brian Orakpo and Adam Carriker so early in the season seemed so devastating, but those injuries allowed us to see what Rob Jackson and Jarvis Jenkins could do. Jackson had a very good year filling in and Jenkins will continue to develop into a good player. I don’t think Fred Davis’ injury hurt too much with Paulsen and Paul picking up the slack nicely. Chris Cooley was brought back for stability at the position as well. Morris’ season kind of made everyone forget about Hightower and Helu being out all season and while Hightower won’t be back in 2013, there will be plenty of depth at RB.
In the defensive secondary, the Redskins were hurt by the absence of Brandon Meriweather (injury) and Tanard Jackson (suspension), but if they can come back in 2013, the secondary will be that much better.
Is it possible the Redskins have found stability at Kicker? Kai Forbath was just about automatic after joining the team and if he can continue, then maybe the carousal of kickers can stop.
Looking ahead to 2013, the biggest question is obviously Robert Griffin’s knee. No one can honestly say when he’ll be back and how he will be able to perform when he does. To speculate on that would be foolish, so we’ll just table any talk on RGIII for a couple of months. Outside of that, getting Carriker, Orakpo, Meriweather and Jackson back should hopefully shore up the defense and make them more consistent. Two other players I’m interested in seeing come back are Keenan Robinson and Chase Minnifield. The Redskins will eventually need to find a replacement for London Fletcher and they need to find out if Robinson is that player. Minnifield is a bit of an unknown. He was a good player at UVA and obviously has the bloodlines, but hasn’t had a chance to really show what he can do at the pro level.
I am optimistic about 2013, but that’s too far away to start worrying about. The team will have a tougher schedule and key players returning from injury. The hope is that players coming back from injury will be able to return to the level of play they had before being injured. If that’s the case, consider getting those players back to really be your draft pool. Carriker, Orakpo, Meriweather and Jackson played a total of five games in 2012 and they were all projected to start the entire season. Getting them back will help make up for no first round pick in 2013.
I did not touch on the coaching staff as my feelings on the Shanahans is well documented. Rehashing it all at this point would be a waste of time. We all saw the same thing and the sight of RGIII on the ground says it all.
We need more of this...
and less of this...