Washington Redskins: 5 Bold Predictions for the 'Skins in 2012

Zach Campbell@@newvalleybluesCorrespondent IMarch 19, 2012

Washington Redskins: 5 Bold Predictions for the 'Skins in 2012

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    The 2012 NFL season is over six months away but it's already shaping up to be a do-or-die affair for head coach Mike Shanahan and the Washington Redskins

    By now, we're all familiar with the "Shanaplan" and how it is predicated upon a gradual build through the draft and free agency.  Time, however, is not the on the Redskins' side and it's high time that Mike Shanahan's vision of a rebuilt 'Skins roster comes to fruition.

    The Redskins have already showed real initiative in trading up for the No. 2 overall pick in the NFL draft to (most likely) snag Heisman winner Robert Griffin III out of Baylor.  If Redskins nation was looking for some kind of indication that Bruce Allen and the rest of the front office were feeling the heat from an impatient fanbase, the trade up is certainly it.

    There's still much left to be decided in free agency and the approaching draft, but one thing is certain: 2012 is bound to be a busy year in DC. 

    Here are five bold predictions for the Redskins in 2012-2013.

Roy Helu Will Break 1,000 Yards Rushing

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    Former running back Clinton Portis turned in four 1,000 yard seasons during his time in DC.  After his departure, the former Miami Hurricane left a huge vacancy that a young, explosive ball carrier would have to fill.

    Enter Roy Helu, Jr. out of Nebraska. 

    In his rookie season in the Redskins' backfield, Helu amassed 640 yards on 151 carries, scoring twice along the way. 

    His numbers alone don't light the stat sheet on fire but when you consider the state of the Redskins' offensive line last season it's not hard to see why Helu had trouble maintaining any consistency. 

    However, Helu was able to demonstrate on multiple occasions just how talented he is. 

    Not only did we see flashes of big-time straight line speed but we also saw Helu lower his shoulder pads and combine power along with being especially nimble. 

    It would be shocking if the Redskins don't address at least two positions on the offensive line this offseason and, hoping that tackle Trent Williams has resolved his issues, the 'Skins' line will likely be much improved, enabling Helu to rip off larger chunks of yardage with greater frequency. 

    With Robert Griffin III being able to threaten both with the deep ball as well as his legs, there should be a lot more space for Helu to work in as opposing defenses will be keying on RG3. 

    This all amounts to more carries and more opportunities to dial in a big play, something that Helu will take full advantage of en route to breaking the 1,000 yard mark in just his second year in the NFL.

Brian Orakpo Will Have a Career Year

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    In three seasons since coming out of Texas, Brian Orakpo has been one of the few bright spots on a frustratingly inconsistent Redskins defense. 

    165 tackles and 28.5 sacks would be amazing figures for an NFL veteran, let alone a guy who is only 25.  Still, there was talk of Orakpo having regressed this past season despite the fact that he recorded more tackles in 2011 than he had in the two previous seasons. 

    Part of the problem was due to the fact that Orakpo had gained infamy as a freak pass-rushing linebacker who is as fast as he is strong.  Double teams did ensue and with great frequency. 

    In 2012, look for Brian Orakpo to be much improved. 

    Adam Carriker has been re-signed and much-hyped prospect Jarvis Jenkins will be fully recovered from a knee injury suffered in the preseason. 

    In addition, Ryan Kerrigan will hold down the fort at the opposite outside linebacker spot and continue to impress in his own right. 

    Most importantly, he'll be even more experienced in Jim Haslett's 3-4 base and have fresh personnel to fill in the gaps at the skill positions. 

    What does it mean? It's a perfect storm-type scenario that will allow Orakpo to roam untouched more often and spend more time in the offensive backfield. 

    Offenses – especially quarterbacks – have need to be concerned.  "Rak Daddy" is primed for a monster year in 2012.

Santana Moss Will Not Be Here in 2012

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    I hate to say it, but Santana Moss' days in the burgundy and gold and likely numbered. 

    Moss has been a fixture in the 'Skins' offense ever since he came over from the Jets in 2005.  In his six seasons in DC, Moss has topped 1,000 yards three times and has consistently reeled in upwards to 60-70 passes a season. 

    Yet there has been a noticeable decline in the last couple of seasons.  At 33, it's no surprise that Moss has lost a little of the burst that made him such a headache for defensive secondaries.  It's not so much the drop off in speed, though, as it is the dropped passes and the lack of big plays down field that has fans worried. 

    In short, Moss is looking less and less like the big threat player that he was as recently as two or three years ago. 

    With the addition of Josh Morgan and Pierre Garcon in this year's free agency pull, as well as young wide outs Niles Paul and Leonard Hankerson in 2011 draft, the depth chart is getting awfully crowded at the WR spot. 

    Moss is just at the point where his trade value starts to become an issue and if the Redskins were to move now they could conceivably get a good return from packaging Moss off to another team. 

    It would definitely be bitter sweet as No. 89 has played well and, at times, excellent during his time as a Redskin, but with all the fresh faces and young talent populating the Redskins' club house, it seems like the right time to part ways with Moss and wish him the best of luck as he ventures elsewhere.

Robert Griffin III Will Take Offensive R.O.Y. Honors

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    Redskins fans know all too well the pitfalls of buying into hype.  It's the ultimate "trust-fall" scenario. 

    When it proves true, it's sublimely rewarding and can energize an entire city.  When it fails, as it so often has in DC, it can be crippling and rob a fanbase of its faith. 

    This is the biggest issue with Robert Griffin III.  Is he as good as we think/hope he is?

    I say yes.

    He's equal parts amazing athletic ability, charisma and intellect.  He is exactly what this team, this city needs.

    The biggest burden facing lauded incoming rookies like RG3 is being asked to perform right out of the gate.  If there is anyone arriving to the NFL in 2012 capable of doing all that is asked of him and more, it's Griffin III. 

    Griffin's skill set will transfer beautifully to the next level due in large part to Kyle Shanahan's offensive scheme.  With a new host of receivers and an offensive line that that will likely be reinforced, Griffin III will  one-up Cam Newton's rookie year coming out party and put up serious numbers as a legitimate dual-threat quarterback. 

    Just like the Heisman race, it will come down to Griffin III and fellow classmate Andrew Luck.  Expect Griffin to take the league by storm and leave Andrew Luck trophy-less for the second time in as many years. 

The Redskins Will Win the NFC East

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    This is called "bold predictions" for a reason.

    You cynics are likely shaking your head in utter disbelief chalking this up to just another typical Redskins fan laboring in jaded preseason optimism.

    How, with the defending Superbowl champs returning its core unit from last year, could the Redskins possibly win the NFC East?

    It's simple: The Redskins will be a hungry, driven football team in 2012. 

    Mike Shanahan has spent the last two years underachieving and scrambling for answers.  Rest assured, he has not toiled in vain.  With the window for success in DC closing on him and his staff, Shanahan will pull out all the stops to make sure 2012 will see the Redskins return to winning ways. 

    This will be a younger, healthier more energetic unit than what we've seen in recent years.  The veterans who are still here will make sure that the newer, less experienced players hear the message loud and clear –– that the losing is over, that the Redskins are no longer a lightning rod for bad play and worse personnel decisions. 

    Behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins will pull a dramatic turn around after a forgettable 5-11 2011 campaign and put DC back on the football landscape after nearly two decades dwelling in obscurity.  

    Finally, it will once again be a great time to be a Redskin.