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This offseason has been a relatively quiet one for the Redskins, but that is not necessarily a bad thing. The team didn’t go out and make any big moves during free agency but they did retain almost all of their own talent. The Redskins went 10-6 last season and they return all but one of their starters. Mike Shanahan has already had one extra year with all of those players adapting and growing within his system and as teammates. That is going to spell huge dividends for the production of both the offense and defense.
For Washington to be at its peak performance, they need a healthy RG3. Word from the team is that he is ahead of schedule with his rehab. However, being ahead of schedule and playing the game, the way he plays, on Sunday are two different things. RG3 will be credited with being the quarterback that really brought the zone option into the NFL. He was extremely effective both running and throwing the ball last season. Of course, he will need to continue to develop as a passer to become elite.
To complement the play of RG3 the Redskins ultimately have two other playmakers; Alfred Morris at running back and Pierre Garcon at wide receiver, I’d like to include Fred Davis on potential alone, but he has yet to produce consistently and is coming off an injury. Morris is solid as a running back. In his rookie season he delivered 1,613 yards rushing per game. He’s a good fit in the system and will more than likely continue to develop and become even better. Garcon is a solid receiver who should provide the downfield threat the team wants. He has good straight speed and can catch the ball well. He can make corners and safeties pay when they make mistakes, which fits in well to the rest of the offense. The different looks that RG# gives a defense consistently had them out of position last season. Garcon would be a huge beneficiary to an improved deep ball from Griffin.
On defense it’s no secret what Jim Haslett wants to do, he came from Pittsburgh. They run a 3-4 look and like to play aggressively.
Up front they have a solid nose tackle in Barry Cofield. He has quickness and power and rarely gets beat. However, the defensive line is not the spotlight on this defense. The linebacker corp, led by London Fletcher is there for that. Fletcher is the unquestioned leader of the defense and a valued member on the inside. He’s tough and relentless and makes people around him better. Hopefully Brian Orakpo will return at full strength and produce a pass rush he’s capable of for an entire 16 game series. He is a huge asset as a pass rusher and the team has to play differently when he is not on the field.
Defensive back is a position that has some needs. Second round draft pick David Amerson will become an immediate starter. Out of N.C. State, Amerson won’t be contributing right away because of his outstanding skill level, the unit just needs some help. DeAngelo Hall will be lining up in the slot where he turned in an inconsistent performance last year. Wilson is a solid player however he is being asked to play guys a little above his level. The team ranked 30th in pass defense last year, they need to pick that up.
All that being said, it’s still not a stretch to think the Redskins can go 10-6 again. The NFC East is always a tough division but they have a lot going for them. If RG3 stays healthy it is very likely they will make the playoffs again, possibly even win the East. Shanahan is an aggressive coach who knows how to put his players in a position to succeed. Even if the defense misses a beat here and there, the offense has the potential to just outscore the other team. It is going to be a good year in Washington.