Washington Redskins: Why the 2013 Team Will Be Even Better
It was a disappointing way for the Washington Redskins to end the 2012 season. A loss at home in the playoffs (where the Redskins were previously undefeated) and the loss of franchise quarterback Robert Griffin III.
But as more time has passed since the loss (of the game and the quarterback), it is easier to dwell on the 2012 campaign as a successful one. Lombardi Trophy No. 4 might not be settled into Redskins Park just yet, but a season where an all-rookie backfield tallied a 5-1 mark against the NFC East and won the division is pretty substantial.
With that said, the future is brighter than what we are accustomed to. There is cause to be very excited for the future as the Redskins (hopefully) take the next step through the postseason.
And here's why.
A Fresh Start on Injuries
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The good news is that Robert Griffin III should be back for the beginning of the 2013 regular season (via ESPN), and if he's as un-human as Adrian Peterson, then he should be able to play at the same level without a hitch.
He's not the only Redskin in the M.A.S.H. unit that should be back, too. Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather, Adam Carriker, Fred Davis (assuming he re-signs) and Pierre Garcon should be at 100 percent when next September rolls around.
As you may have noticed, the Redskins were pretty good with Garcon in the mix (setting up a 9-2 record when he was playing), so having him for an entire season will be vital.
Possibly the second most important will be Brian Orakpo, as the Redskins struggled to get to the quarterback, ranking No. 23 in the NFL with 32 sacks. They did have five sacks in the wild-card game against the Seahawks, but the overall season performance was lacking.
Washington doesn't have the benefit of a first-round draft pick to help bolster their roster, but just having the key players coming back from injury will be even more valuable than anyone the Redskins could have gotten in the first round.
The Rest of the Division Seems to Be Declining
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As I stated earlier, the Redskins went 5-1 against their NFC East foes in the 2012 season. If that trend continues, then Washington may be able to get into the playoffs as division champions more than just this once.
As for the Eagles, it seems like they've hit the self-destruct button on their franchise and are starting fresh. As the Redskins can attest, it will take a few seasons and a franchise player to get back on the right track.
The Redskins may be the eighth oldest team in the NFL, but outside of London Fletcher and Santana Moss, all of their key players are under the age of 30.
This includes Robert Griffin III (22), Alfred Morris (24), Ryan Kerrigan (24), Brian Orakpo (26), Pierre Garcon (26) and Fred Davis (26). And if you want, throw in DeAngelo Hall. He's only 29-years-old, despite the fact that it seems like he's been in the league for a decade-and-a-half.
Those stars will be around for awhile, so the rest of the division has to worry about the Redskins for years to come.
The Defense Is Improving
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During the Redskins' seven-game winning streak, the defense became more opportunistic and improved dramatically.
They allowed 20 points per game during the run compared to the 24.2 before it. They ended with a total of 31 takeaways from opposing offenses, which was good for No. 2 in the NFL in terms of turnover differential (plus-17).
With the injured Brian Orakpo, Brandon Meriweather and Adam Carriker all returning next year, the defense should continue the turnaround it showed in the second half of the 2012 season.
Also, with cornerbacks Brent Grimes, Aqib Talib and Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all available on the free-agent market this offseason, the Redskins will have a chance to upgrade their struggling secondary.
I mean, it couldn't possibly be as bad as the Cincinnati game in Week 3, when the Redskins gave up 478 yards, including 385 through the air.
Korey Beckett is a Featured Columnist for the Washington Redskins and Bleacher Report's Fantasy Football coverage. Like him on Facebook here or e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org