Washington Redskins: 5 Major Concerns in 2012

Tom NataliCorrespondent IOctober 11, 2012

Washington Redskins: 5 Major Concerns in 2012

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    The Redskins lost their best player to a concussion in the third quarter, went 1-of-9 on third down, missed an easy field-goal attempt to make it a two-possession game and they still had a chance to beat an undefeated team?

    What does this tell us? For me, it tells us that the Redskins are talented enough to win but aren’t figuring out a way to get it done.

    That takes time, of course. The undefeated Falcons have essentially had the same team for a number of years now, their chemistry is evident and Matt Ryan is playing at an MVP level.

    With all that being considered and my rational attempt at trying to prevent myself from dropping into another Redskins depression (yes, I have made up my own condition; I’m sure others can relate), it’s still frustrating to see Washington at a 2-3 record.

    What’s alarming to me is that they still have to play their division, the surprising Minnesota Vikings, the Ravens and Steelers. It’s definitely scary.

    So after five games, I’ve put together five major concerns that I’ve noticed thus far.

1. Robert Griffin III's Health

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    It’s ignorant to think that this wouldn’t happen. There was no way that RGIII could have taken a beating like that week after week and expect him to get up every single time.

    The offensive line isn’t doing him any favors. Other than Trent Williams and Chris Chester, we could be looking at three new starters going into next season.

    On the other hand, Griffin has to play smarter than that. I know that’s a difficult task, considering his competitive nature and his overall superior athleticism, but the Redskins will go nowhere without him. After five games, I feel safe saying that already.

    If that means the Redskins have to go back to a traditional offense, then fine; no more freelancing please.

    In addition to that, is the Shanahan offense to blame for the repetitive hits that Griffin has taken? After the Bengals game, I would say yes. Since then, Kyle Shanahan has done more to protect their prized possession.

    The biggest issue with this is that the Redskins aren’t a good football team yet. If Griffin had better talent around him (most notably a dependable offensive line), he wouldn’t have to leave the pocket to make a play, not to mention his receivers have been inconsistent since Week 1.

2. Pass Defense

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    Take the rush defense out of the equation; they’ve done everything that is asked and then some. This is strictly a one-dimensional problem.

    With the absence of Brian Orakpo, the defense hasn’t been able to generate a pass rush. Ryan Kerrigan has made a few plays here and there, but he clearly misses his counterpart. Rob Jackson and Chris Wilson have struggled in their linebacker-by-committee approach.

    So how do you remedy a lack of pass rush? Well, blitzing could work; the problem is you need cornerbacks whom you can trust in one-on-one coverage.

    DeAngelo Hall, Josh Wilson, Cedric Griffin and Richard Crawford all have been inefficient in man-to-man coverage so far this season.

    Generating a pass rush forces the quarterback to make errant throws, thus giving the defense the ability to make game-changing plays.

    What I have noticed thus far this year is that opposing receivers are wide open on a frequent basis. Do we blame the personnel? Do we blame Jim Haslett’s scheme? Maybe new defensive back coach Raheem Morris?

    It’s really a combination of everything. Safeties Madieu Williams, Reed Doughty and DeJon Gomes are inferior to their opponents. Josh Wilson has regressed from last season, and Hall remains consistently inconsistent.

    The Atlanta game was an improvement. Big plays were not surrendered, but the Falcons matriculated the ball down the field with short, high-percentage passes.

    I’ll take that over big plays, but the Redskins have yet to stop an opposing offense for four quarters. Adjustments and personnel decisions need to be made; this, obviously, isn’t working.

3. Third-Down Offense

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    As good as the offense has been, their biggest issue is their third-down efficiency, which is at an NF-worst 23.3 percent. Last Sunday, they went 1-of-9 on third downs.

    Similar to the secondary problem, I’m not sure who is at fault. Is it Kyle Shanahan’s play-calling? Is it an execution problem?

    Their third-down plays are becoming predictable, thus allowing defenses to properly align. However, there have also been player errors as well—Fred Davis, Santana Moss and Pierre Garcon all had crucial drops last Sunday.  

    While this has been plaguing the Skins so far this season, Shanahan is a bright football mind. I envision major improvements to be made against the Vikings this Sunday.

4. Winless at FedEx Field

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    Home-field advantage is underrated. Watch a game at Baltimore or Pittsburgh and see if teams want to travel there.

    It’s an intimidating sight.

    The Redskins have now lost eight straight games at FedEx Field. While the DC area doesn’t have the best reputation as far as fans are concerned, FedEx Field simply does not provide a winning environment.

    When I drive by RFK Stadium, there’s just an aura about it. Some of the proudest moments in the city’s history have occurred in that “dump” of a stadium.

    Just by looking at it, you feel a tremendous amount of pride with an outdated structure. Comparing this to FedEx is laughable.

    Fact is, the Redskins have been awful in front of their fans. That’s why I consider Sunday’s game against the Vikings a must-win.

    The fans need something to cheer about, and they need to even up in their quarter-season approach.

5. The Kicking Problem

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    OK, Kai Forbath—now it’s your turn. You will go where many have tried and failed over the past 18 years in a Redskins uniform.

    The Billy Cundiff experiment has abruptly ended. That said, Mike Shanahan had to make the move. If you miss 50-plus-yard field goals, then that’s understandable, but Cundiff’s misses were inexcusable.

    The reason I feel that this is so important is that the Redskins are going to be playing in close games all season. The team needs a guy that they can depend on. Rather than be forced to go for it from the 35-yard line, they can bring in a kicker who’s capable of making it from anywhere.

    This has been an issue for as long as I can remember now. We really don’t know a lot about Forbath at the moment. He had an incredible college career, won the Lou Groza Award and never latched onto an NFL team. Sound familiar? (Hint: Graham Gano)

    Either way, I expect we will have an answer soon.