Grading the Talent Surrounding RGIII with Washington Redskins
RG3 has been nothing short of phenomenal so far this year, living up to the hype from six months ago. The combination of elite arm strength, seasoned accuracy and Olympic speed gives the Redskins one of the most dynamic players in the NFL.
The expectations coming off a Heisman Trophy-winning season could not have been higher for RG3. The Redskins paid a king's ransom to trade up for the Baylor standout, and the early returns seem positive.
What is even more impressive about Griffin's performance throughout this season has been the lack of talent surrounding him. Whether it be on the offensive line or skill positions, the Redskins have showcased a noticeable lack of depth. This piece will grade out all the positions on offense surrounding RG3.
Offensive Line: C
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The Redskins offensive line is one of the weakest position units in Washington, and yet most effective. The pass protection is unreliable and dangerous for RG3's health. However, the O-line is also responsible for one of the league's best rushing attack.
Utilizing Mike Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme, the Redskins offensive line has helped produce the second-best rushing attack in the NFL. Trent Williams is having a great year, after finishing last season with a four-game suspension. Despite its dominance in the run game, the O-line is most recognized for the failures in the passing game.
From a statistical measure, the Redskins' pass protection is just above average (13) with 21 sacks allowed. Yet, sacks do not tell the whole story as RG3 is pressured on far too many plays within the first three seconds. While the unit as a whole has struggled, Tyler Polumubus has been the biggest offender.
The offensive line has the potential to improve with Jammal Brown available to return from the PUP list after the bye week. However, this unit is in need of a major overall next offseason in order to protect the Redskins' primary asset: RG3.
Wide Receivers: B-
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The Redskins made a concerted effort this offseason to address the lack of talent at the wide receiver position. Bringing in Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan to pair with Santana Moss and Leonard Hankerson. Early on this unit appeared poised to dole out some damage on NFL secondaries.
The problem with the Redskins receivers is twofold: injuries and drops. Pierre Garcon appeared to be the early favorite for RG3's No. 1 target after a stellar Week 1. Since then, Garcon has spent the majority of the time nursing a foot injury which may end his season.
For the receivers who have been healthy enough to play, there does not seem to be enough money available to convince to catch simple passes. All have been culprits, but Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson are the most consistent droppers. This is simply unacceptable and will continue to be an impediment to any success.
There is not much to change in the receiving corps as the necessary pieces are already in place. These players just need to perform at the professional level that accompanies an NFL receiver.
Tight Ends: B
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The tight ends in Washington were dealt a massive blow when Fred Davis was lost to a season-ending Achilles injury. An quick glance at the depth chart would lead most to believe this grade is inflated but these once no names are beginning to produce.
Logan Paulsen has been the biggest surprise so far with at least four receptions and 10 yards per catch the past three weeks. Up to this point, Paulsen has been used as a second tight/extra blocker, with very little route running. Now, Paulsen is stepping up and becoming one of the more reliable options in the passing game.
Outside of Paulsen, there is Niles Paul and the return of Chris Cooley. To this point there have been flashes of Paul's talent but also several drops. Cooley has been invisible up to this point, but maybe that changes as he works his way back into football shape.
Davis was the leading receiver for the Redskins before his season-ending injury. The Redskins have been able to get solid production out of their backups, but expect to see a tight end drafted or acquired in free agency next spring.
Running Backs: A-
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Outside of RG3, the running backs are the brightest position for the Redskins offense. The Mike Shanahan running game seems to produce 1,000-yard backs regardless of whose name is on the back of the jersey. This year that name is Morris, for the most part, and there is plenty to like about this bruising back.
Through nine weeks, Morris has nearly 800 yards and five touchdowns on just 164 carries. This translates to just under five yards per carry, quite an impressive number for a sixth-round rookie. Morris has the strength and endurance to be a feature back in this league, we'll see if Shanahan stays faithful to him.
Behind Morris, Evan Royster is a reliable back who has struggled to see consistent playing time. With Roy Helu out for the season, Keiland Williams (a familiar face) has been signed to the third string.
Whoever runs the rock for Mike Shanahan seems to find daylight. Morris has emerged as a reliable back and leader of the second overall rushing attack in the NFL. While none of these backs has elite breakaway speed, all fit the scheme and plan perfectly.