Fact or Fiction: Washington Redskins Pre-Camp Edition
We've been breaking down popular scenarios for each NFC East team in an attempt to determine which are factual and which are fictional. Tuesday, we looked at the Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys, and earlier today, we covered the New York Giants. By process of elimination, I think you can guess who's next on the docket.
Scenario: Pierre Garcon emerges as a reliable No. 1 receiver
Garcon is only 25 years old, improving by the game and coming off a 70-reception, 947-yard season despite catching passes from Peyton Manning's pathetic insurance policies in Indianapolis. He has the breakaway speed to mesh perfectly with Robert Griffin III, whom they're already calling "The Arm" in Washington.
Now that he's kicked his drop problem and is getting a fresh start with a coaching staff that believes he has superstar potential, expect Garcon to bust out with his first 1,000-yard season in 2012 while establishing himself as the clear-cut top receiving option in Washington going forward.
Scenario: They break out of the NFC East basement
What place will Washington finish in?
The problem, though, is that the rest of the NFC East continues to get better as well. The only team in the division that might have taken even a small step backwards in the offseason is the defending Super Bowl champion, and the Giants are still a much better team than Washington is.
The Eagles and Cowboys only had a three-game edge on the 'Skins last season, but both underperformed. This year, Philadelphia is expected to be a lot better as a result of having a proper offseason to get its 2011 additions up to speed. As for the Cowboys, they're supposed to be much better in the secondary, and the healthy return of DeMarco Murray and Miles Austin should boost the offense quite a bit.
In the AFC East, South or West or the NFC West, the Redskins would be Wild Card contenders right now. In the NFC East, there's still a good chance they finish below .500, while their three divisional opponents should each win a minimum of nine games.
Scenario: Robert Griffin III is the offensive rookie of the year
Of course, the rookie-of-the-year race could always include players not named Luck or Griffin, and the Redskins' quarterback might face his toughest competition in Cleveland, where No. 4 overall pick Trent Richardson resides.
Other candidates include Jaguars wide receiver Justin Blackmon, late-first-round backs David Wilson and Doug Martin and maybe even Chicago second-round receiver Alshon Jeffery. Richardson and Blackmon, though, will have little to no support in their respective offenses and it's hard to see Wilson, Martin or Jeffery (or anyone else) impacting their teams like RG3 is expected to.
I'm not expecting Griffin to put up Cam Newton numbers, but the pieces are in place for him to succeed out of the gate, and it might only require something between steady and spectacular for the reigning Heisman winner to add another individual award to his trophy case.
Scenario: The secondary improves dramatically
The problem is that it seems they've gone with quantity over quality, which is never a good route in the NFL. I strongly believe in new defensive backs coach Raheem Morris, who is a young, vocal teacher with the experience to transform the unit. However, does Morris have the personnel required for a leap forward?
I have little reason to believe in guys like Brandon Meriweather, Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson. If there aren't character concerns, there are competency concerns. And when you include veteran defensive back Cedric Griffin, who was also brought in this offseason but is expected to get his shot at a nickel corner role, there are significant injury concerns, too.
Josh Wilson is a solid corner, but DeAngelo Hall takes too many risks and gets exposed often. Beyond that, there aren't any truly reliable players in the Washington secondary. I see the unit struggling again in 2012.
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