Yesterday the NFL nation saw the Baltimore Ravens hoist up the Lombardi Trophy as Super Bowl Champions. They overcame a litany of obstacles to get to that point, and deserve their time to be celebrated as the World Champions.
However, what about the other team that plays in the state of Maryland?
The Washington Redskins, who were one of the biggest surprises of 2012, rose from their usual residence at the bottom of the NFC East to win the division and host their first playoff home game in 13 years.
Despite a valiant effort against the Seattle Seahawks, the only discussion after the game was about the advice Dr. James Andrews did or did not provide to Coach Mike Shanahan, who left franchise QB Robert Griffin III in too long. As a result he suffered a partially torn MCL and may not return until the beginning of the 2013 season at best.
That's not the only question to answer in Snyder-land. Here we address the other major inquires that the residents of FedEx Field must deal with if they hope to host another playoff game in 2014:
1) Will they begin to replace LB London Fletcher?
Fletcher is the unquestioned leader of the defense, returning to the Pro Bowl and finally getting the accolades he has so richly deserved. Even with an injury ending star LB Brian Orakpo's season early, Fletcher rallied the troops in their late season run to the playoffs.
However, he is going into 2013 with a $6.2 million contract, and with the Redskins being docked $18 million by the NFL, GM Bruce Allen will need to be shrewd with his dealings, and keeping Fletcher is a must. I assume they will restructure his deal, but eventually they will need to look for his replacement, as his career is in its twilight.
Fellow LB Lorenzo Alexander made the Pro Bowl as well, and may be pushed into being the man to lead the defense, but they will need to draft another LB to groom in the future.
What is Washington's biggest concern heading into 2013?
2) What will they do to address the secondary?
One of the weak spots in Washington was their inability to force turnovers or cover wide receivers, and in a division in which you face Dez Bryant, Victor Cruz, and DeSean Jackson, pass defense is a must.
CB DeAngelo Hall, who will most surely be cut as he comes with an $8.3 million cap hit, was one of the major issues for the Redskins last year. Cedric Griffin was a surprise despite having to serve a four-game suspension last year. With that they must get a physical free safety as well that can be used in blitz packages.
3) Santana Moss: keep or release?
Over the past few seasons, Santana Moss has been a staple in the Redskins' receiving corps. However, he took a step back with the arrival of RGIII, as the Redskins went to more of a short passing offense. making free agent pickup Pierre Garcon the go-to guy.
Also, guys like Leonard Hankerson made an impact when needed, so with Washington needing to conserve cap space, Moss could be a casualty as the Redskins are changing their offense, and a possession receiver may not be worth paying $6.3 million.
4) Bring back Fred Davis as TE?
Before suffering a season ending injury, Fred Davis benefited from the presence of RGIII and being known for more than just sleeping in practice sessions. He was a great safety valve in the offense and bringing back local favorite Chris Cooley did nothing to improve the passing game from the tight end position.
Although Logan Paulsen served in a solid capacity role, the Redskins will need someone of Davis' talent to stretch the field, as it was evident against Seattle the receivers could not get separation from the Seahawks' talented defensive cornerbacks. It would be in Washington's best interest to bring Davis back.
5) How will Washington address the recovery of RGIII?
RGIII electrified the league last year with his combination of speed and arm strength, the reasons he won the Rookie of the Year award. However, the more he ran, the more he became at risk for injury.
He suffered a concussion against the Atlanta Falcons and was taken out against the Seahawks in the playoffs. Whether or not Shanahan kept him in too long will always be debated, but what will be an even bigger question is if he will be the same QB he was last year. He is a smaller QB in comparison to his peers, but has shown the ability to win games with his arm as well.
Will Shanahan change the offense to make him stay in the pocket? Also, how will they prepare him upon his return? It will take a few weeks before he comes to complete health, so it may not be until October 2013 when we see the RGIII of last year. If not, then prepare for more of Kirk Cousins taking snaps behind center.