Robert Griffin III: The future of the Washington Redskins.
Quick Review of 2011
Offense—No. 14 passing, No. 25 rushing, No. 16 total.
Defense—No. 12 passing, No. 18 rushing, No. 13 total.
For the fourth year in a row, the Redskins finished last in the NFC East in 2011. After a promising 3-1 start, they lost six straight and 10 of 12 to end at 5-11.
Most of the blame for the poor season was pointed at one position—quarterback.
It wasn't that Rex Grossman and John Beck weren't productive. They combined for over 4,000 yards. Their problem was the number of interceptions they threw. Collectively, they were intercepted 24 times.
Overall, only two teams had more turnovers than the Redskins' 35, and their giveaway/takeaway differential was second worse at minus-14.
The running game lagged behind and produced only 1,614 yards. The leading rusher was rookie Roy Helu, who rushed for 640 yards while only scoring two touchdowns. The Redskins scored just eight rushing touchdowns all year. What especially hurt was running back Tim Hightower playing in only five games.
The defense was better than average, and the ageless London Fletcher led the NFL in tackles with 166. He also had two interceptions and forced three fumbles.
The Redskins had solid play from the other linebackers. Brian Orakpo had nine sacks and three forced fumbles, while rookie Ryan Kerrigan had seven and one-half sacks and forced four fumbles.
S Travon Bellamy, OT Jordan Black, WR Dezmon Briscoe, RB Tristan Davis, DT Marlon Favorite, WR Pierre Garcon, CB Cedric Griffin, S Tanard Jackson, CB David Jones, LB Bryan Kehl, S Brandon Meriweather, WR Josh Morgan, S Madieu Williams, DE Chris Wilson
QB Robert Griffin III, G Josh LeRibeus, QB Kirk Cousins, LB Keenan Robinson, G Adam Gettis, RB Alfred Morris, OT Tom Compton, CB Richard Crawford, CB Jordan Bernstine
Undrafted Free Agents
FB Dorson Boyce, C Grant Garne, LB D.J. Holt, DT Delvin Johnson, DE Brian McNalley, RB Michael Shaw
WR David Anderson, S Oshiomogho Atogwe, CB Kevin Barnes, QB John Beck, OT Jammal Brown, CB Phillip Buchanon, LB Keyaron Fox, WR Jabar Gaffney, S LaRon Landry, G Sean Locklear, LB Rocky McIntosh, S Kareem Moore, FB Mike Sellers, WR Donte' Stallworth, CB Byron Westbrook
Outlook for 2012
The Redskins made one of the biggest moves of the offseason.
They traded with St. Louis to obtain the second pick in the 2012 NFL draft. With that pick they selected quarterback Robert Griffin III. Griffin won the Heisman Trophy in 2011 at Baylor.
Griffin is big—6' 2" and 231 pounds. He posted an exceptional rating of 189 last year at Baylor, while passing for 4,293 yards and 37 touchdowns.
The Redskins have surrounded him with weapons.
Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon are veteran wide receivers that can help the rookie quarterback in his development. Tight end Fred Davis, who had 59 receptions last season, will be another option.
The running game should be much improved. With Griffin, Roy Helu and a healthy Tim Hightower, look for the Redskins to be near the top of the NFL in rushing this year.
The defense, with linebackers Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, is solid and will get better with more experience.
What will help the defense as much as anything though, is fewer turnovers by the offense.
Sep. 9 at New Orleans
Sep. 16 at St. Louis
Sep. 23 Cincinnati
Sep. 30 at Tampa Bay
Oct. 7 Atlanta
Oct. 14 Minnesota
Oct. 21 at New York Giants
Oct. 28 at Pittsburgh
Nov. 4 Carolina
Nov. 18 Philadelphia
How many games will the Redskins win in 2012?
Nov. 22 at Dallas
Dec. 3 New York Giants
Dec. 9 Baltimore
Dec. 16 at Cleveland
Dec. 23 at Philadelphia
Dec. 30 Dallas
The schedule starts out tough, with three road games in the first four weeks. However, two of those games—at St. Louis and at Tampa Bay—are games the Redskins should win.
The Redskins play seven games against 2011 playoff teams.
They play on Thanksgiving afternoon at Dallas, and their only scheduled prime-time appearance is home on December 3 against the Giants on Monday Night Football.
Rookie quarterbacks are always a gamble.
However, Griffin will make the running game better, and he has veteran wide receivers and a good option at tight end.
Even though he will make rookie mistakes, turnovers should decrease from last year.
The defense is getting better, and the schedule, though it has some rough stretches, has a lot of games that favor the Redskins.
The Redskins will be competitive, but their 9-7 record probably won't guarantee them a playoff spot in the tough NFC.