Washington Redskins: Top 5 Questions to Debate Prior to Game 1
In late July and early August, we began this series with a few debate questions about Washington Redskins' training camp, the team's preparation and the coaching staff's evaluation of a 90-man roster.
Now that cuts have been made to 53 and the season's about to start, we would like your answers to the final five urgent questions the Redskins need to answer to be contenders in 2012.
Kick-off Sunday in New Orleans can't come soon enough, but decisions behind the scenes will continue for 17 weeks, as Washington hopes to return to the playoffs for the first time since 2007.
Please feel free to provide your answers in the comment section below and enjoy this weekend's slate of season openers.
Will Captain Chaos Make a Triumphant Return?
During the last week of August, I wrote a goodbye piece about Chris Cooley, believing that he would likely latch on with another team and start the season in different colors for the first time in his career.
Cooley's release surprised a lot of Redskins fans and although I assumed it might happen two weeks earlier, it was sad to see him go.
But if you listen closely to Cooley's emotional farewell speech, it's obvious that a light was left on for him by the Redskins. In his own words, Chris said "Today, for the time being, will be my last day as a Redskin."
So what should we make of this Friday morning tweet from the team about the possibility of Cooley's return?
10:17 AM - 7 Sep 12
Is Washington general manager Bruce Allen serious? Or is it a gentlemanly attempt to help Cooley land another job?
This writer believes Allen is serious. I also believe that his statement will not spur interest in Cooley, if there has not been some already.
I do believe Cooley can still play and can be a valuable piece of the Redskins offense this year. At the very least, he'll bring a veteran presence to a team that is getting younger across the board. Kick in the fact that he never wanted to leave DC in the first place and you have the makings of a possible reunion.
Allen must have had a gut feeling that Cooley would still be available on the open market. And if Bruce brings him back, he'll get Chris on the cheap.
According to Gregg Rosenthal of NFL.com:
If the Redskins sign Cooley after Week 1 they don't have to guarantee his [$3.8 million] salary for the season.
That may be acceptable to the eight-year veteran, whose heart remains in Washington.
“I can’t guarantee what will happen," Cooley told Washington Post sports writer Mark Maske. "But this is where I want to live and play, so I’d definitely be open to talk.”
Can a 6th Round Rookie Running Back Grab a Hold of the Starter's Role?
His name is Alfred Morris and if you're a Redskins fan and you haven't heard of him, you must be living under a rock.
I'll understand if you went away on vacation for the entire month of August. I would even give you a pass for not paying attention to preseason football. But if you turn on your television for the Redskins-Saints game Sunday, keep an eye on No. 46, because he just might surprise you.
As the 173rd overall pick from this year's draft, Morris was expected to carry the helmets of veteran players back to their dorms at training camp. He was expected to bang into the defense a few times to give Roy Helu, Evan Royster and Tim Hightower a rest. There's even a chance he memorized his Florida Atlantic fight song, in case the boys wanted him to sing it in the mess hall.
Now Helu is banged up, Royster's an afterthought and Hightower's out the door.
So, what do we make of all this? Is the kid who gained 195 yards (and five yards per carry) in three exhibition games the real deal? Is he Mike Shanahan's next diamond in the rough? Or will he plummet to earth when the real bullets start flying?
Let us know what you think, but please don't blame me or Coach Shanahan for jumping on Morris' bandwagon. It's been revving for weeks and is about to bulldoze its way into New Orleans. All aboard!
Will a Depleted Safety Corps Leak Like a Sieve?
When it comes to the safety position, there may not be an NFL team more snake-bitten then the Washington Redskins.
Ever since the tragic shooting death of Sean Taylor on November 27, 2007, the team has tried valiantly to fill his void, but to no avail.
Injuries and poor execution played key roles in the release of O.J. Atogwe in March and the jettisoning of LaRon Landry to the New York Jets. But Redskins GM Bruce Allen thought he did right by bringing in three veterans to compete.
Former Pro Bowler Brandon Meriweather was signed to play strong safety and was joined by fellow free agents Madieu Williams and Tanard Jackson.
Jackson had some off-the-field baggage, but the coaching staff trusted he'd be kept in check by secondary coach Raheem Morris, who previously served as Jackson's head coach in Tampa.
Unfortunately, everything worked out for the worst.
Meriweather strained his left knee during the Redskins second preseason game in Chicago and then aggravated it at practice on Monday. The result wasn't pretty and according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post, "Meriweather [will be] sidelined for two to four weeks with sprained medial collateral and posterior cruciate ligaments."
Meanwhile, Jackson failed a drug test and was suspended for a full year. That development disappointed the coaching staff and crushed Jackson's chance to start at strong safety (in place of Meriweather) for a team that had high hopes for him.
So where do the Redskins go from here? Against superstar Drew Brees on Sunday, they will have no choice but to lean on Williams at free safety and a combination of second-year pro DeJon Gomes and veteran Reed Doughty on the strong side.
As indicated in Jones' Post column, "Gomes started five games as a rookie, recording 35 tackles and two pass breakups. [He also] believes that he is up to task despite facing a stiff challenge Sunday."
Gomes better be, because Brees is just one of at least 16 signal callers that will be looking to take advantage of a Washington secondary that will have to play catch-up in a hurry.
Can Kirk Cousins Catapult Rex Grossman for the No. 2 QB Role?
A quarterback controversy is brewing in Washington and it's been a hot topic for debate since April's draft.
But it's doesn't involve who you may surmise and in the words of head coach Mike Shanahan, "[Robert Griffin III's] the starter. Period."
So let's move on to his backups, thank you.
At first, there was no question who would play second fiddle to Washington's No. 2 overall pick. After John Beck was released, Rex Grossman literally volunteered to do it.
Some media outlets commended Grossman for his unselfishness. ProFootballTalk's Mike Florio even applauded Grossman for being a "good soldier". But the good vibes changed for Rex, as soon as the Redskins handed in their draft card for their fourth-round selection.
With the bewildering addition of Michigan State star Kirk Cousins, speculation ran rampant as to why he would be chosen so high to be a third-stringer.
Cousins then answered the bell in a big way, with a magical preseason performance against Chicago, in which he threw for 264 yards and three touchdowns,
Developmental quarterbacks are one thing, but Cousins played nothing like one in the preseason. In fact, he played so well, he outnumbered RGIII in total pass attempts (73-31), completions (42-20), passing yards (560-193) and touchdown tosses (3-2).
Meanwhile, Rex was "Bad Rex" in his first outing, with a two for 10 performance in Buffalo. But he resurrected himself in Indianapolis, when "Good Rex" threw for two scores and completed all eight of his passes.
So can the Redskins rely on two rookies to sit atop their depth chart all season? Or do they toss out preseason numbers and stick with the experienced Grossman as RGIII's primary backup?
You be the judge.
Will the Redskins Make the Playoffs in 2012?
While watching the local news the other night, I learned that temperatures have been at 90 degrees or above 52 times this summer in the nation's capital.
That's crazy hot. But it may pale in comparison to the heat and pressure the Washington Redskins will face this fall.
Over the past two and a half years, owner Daniel Snyder has been about as patient as he can be, while coach Mike Shanahan has slowly reshaped a roster that was in a state of flux.
Snyder and Shanahan were also fortunate to get their man, after pulling off a blockbuster trade with the St. Louis Rams for the No. 2 pick in April's draft.
But as the Robert Griffin III era begins in earnest, is it unfair to predict postseason bliss? Will a hopeful fan-base grow impatient if losses begin to pile up? Or will success be measured by simple signs of improvement?
After watching Dallas dismantle the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants Wednesday night, some may say the Redskins have a chance in the rugged NFC East. But in order to win nine or ten games, Washington will have to defeat a countless number of talented teams outside of their division.
In addition to the Cowboys, Giants and Eagles (twice), Washington faces 2011 playoff teams Cincinnati, Atlanta, Pittsburgh, Baltimore and New Orleans (on Sunday). They also play at St. Louis, at Tampa, at Cleveland and home against Minnesota and Carolina (with Cam Newton).
Most of those teams are dangerous. But Washington is rearing to go and so are we at Bleacher Report.
So let's hear from you.
Can RGIII be all he can be, right out of the gate? And can the rest of the team rally around their rookie leader to make it to the postseason?
Please let us know what you think and leave your win-loss predictions in the comment section below.
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
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