Redskins Kick off Preseason: Top 10 Questions to Debate (Nos. 6 and 7)
In our second installment of Redskins Top 10 Questions to Debate, we'll concentrate on the increasing concerns of one unit and the rise in confidence of another.
As always, please feel free to state your opinions in the comment section below. But try to respect the opinions of others, who may not necessarily agree with you.
No. 7 - Will RGIII spend more time rifling passes or running for his life?
In fairness to Mr. Griffin, he'll have plenty of opportunities to do both of the above and will drive defenses nuts while doing them. But when three starting linemen go down in training camp, concern can turn into panic for a rookie recruit.
This writer believes he'll be just fine in time, but will suffer early from Washington's poor judgement.
Injuries are not new to the Redskins' crew of starting offensive linemen. As Rant Sports' Emmanual Benton points out, just two players in the group made it through 2011 unscathed, and one of them (Chris Chester) suffered an ankle sprain in early August.
After last year's four-game suspension of left tackle Trent Williams, the Redskins should have filled their line with quality backups. Instead, they ignored the issue in March, when a few talented free agents were available. Now, they're attempting to put band aids on large open wounds.
RGIII will certainly have his highlight-reel moments. But there will be considerable risk to his well being, if injuries continue to plague his protectors.
For now, Washington will rely on the following men to keep Griffin upright, unless they decide to scour what's left of the free agent market.
Williams will have RGIII's back and center Will Montgomery will keep bull rushers at bay, as the only other dependable starter.
Meanwhile, the Redskins will tread carefully through the preseason with second-year man Maurice Hurt at left guard and fifth-year journeyman Tyler Polumbus at right tackle. Hurt started eight games and Polumbus four a year ago, but they didn't exactly light the world on fire.
The Redskins plan to throw rookies Adam Gettis and Josh LeRibeus to the wolves, while free agent signees Tony Moli and Jordan Black will also compete. According to WUSA-TV, Black was happy to be lured out of retirement, but he has to gain weight fast to have a chance to stick.
As for RGIII, he'll likely have a smorgasbord of quick passes to choose from. He'll also have another layer of protection when he's in the pocket.
According to Washington Times reporter Rich Campbell (via ESPN.com), Chris Cooley will serve as a fullback for the Redskins, at least until Darrel Young returns from a hamstring injury.
Meanwhile, coach Mike Shanahan has made it clear that Griffin's snaps will increase as the preseason progresses to its third game.
That news surprised blogger Rich Tandler, who said that playing time is "usually confidential information."
Nevertheless, Shanahan continued to reveal his plans.
Our second game I usually play [them] a half. The third preseason game, I usually play [them] a series into the third quarter. The fourth game you don’t play. That’s what I’ve done in the past, probably won’t be too far from it this year.”
Let's just hope that RGIII can escape from harm's way, while a host of reinforcements try to hold down the fort.
“I told him I was coming for him,” said Buffalo Bills defensive end Mario Williams (per The Associated Press). "But it’s all fun. It’s preseason. And it’s actually better for him to get hit earlier than later, so it’s not a shock.”
No. 6 - Will the Redskins' defense rank in the top 10 this year?
Washington's defense ranked 13th in yards allowed last year and 10th in sacks, so there's no reason why it can't be a Top 10 overall unit this year.
Chances for success on defense often correlate with how a team's offense performs and vice versa.
In Washington's case, the offense must get healthy and remain that way, so it can get some continuity going between its newcomers. If it can accomplish that, it will be far better than last year's group led by quarterbacks Rex Grossman and John Beck. And the longer the offense stays on the field, the more rested and ready the defense will be.
"We need to help [RGIII] because he’s gonna have growing pains,” said defensive end Stephen Bowen, via The Washington Post. “The best way for us, the defense, to do that is to be a real dominant defense. We have to go out there and make it easier for him. And after what we’ve seen from him, we know we'll win, if we help him."
Bowen returns to a unit that includes Barry Cofield and Adam Carriker and a host of talented pass rushers, who are going to make life miserable for opposing quarterbacks. At any given time, Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo can disrupt an offense from their linebacker positions. But according to Washington Post columnist Jason Reid, a second-year defender could be the key to dominance in 2012.
The Redskins envision getting a boost from returning lineman Jarvis Jenkins. He was the defense’s most impressive rookie in training camp last season before suffering a season-ending knee injury in a preseason game.
If Jenkins returns to full-strength, Washington's sack total may increase (from 41 in 2011). But can it finish with better numbers than its NFC East rivals?
Mark Maske of The Washington Post compared the units from a year ago.
The Redskins ranked last among the four NFC East defenses in that category. The Philadelphia Eagles had 50 sacks, matching the Minnesota Vikings for the NFL’s most. The New York Giants, on their way to a Super Bowl title, tied for third in the league with 48 sacks. The Dallas Cowboys tied for seventh with 42.
To rise above its division counterparts, Washington may need significant improvement among its defensive backs. According to Jason Reid, the Redskins were 30th in the league last year with a minus-14 turnover ratio.
The safety position has also been scrutinized throughout training camp, but Washington made a smart move, when it hired former Tampa Bay head coach Raheem Morris as a secondary coach.
“When Raheem first got here, he had control of the room,” said nickle back Cedric Griffin, via Redskins.com. “He had to put down the law, [but] he’s a player’s coach, and we all love playing for him."
And if the no-nonsense Morris can get his players to be disciplined and opportunistic, Washington's defense will give RGIII plenty of short fields to play with.
“With the defense we have, we should be holding people under 20 points," said Carriker in Reid's column. "Then, [Robert] wouldn’t have to put up enormous numbers.”
Joe Versage is a NFL Featured Columnist at Bleacher Report. He previously covered the Buffalo Bills, Washington Redskins and Baltimore Ravens as a television beat reporter. Follow him on Twitter at: @JoeVersage
What is the duplicate article?
Why is this article offensive?
Where is this article plagiarized from?
Why is this article poorly edited?