Rounding Up the Latest Offseason Buzz Surrounding the Washington Redskins
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This offseason certainly has not lacked drama in Washington, D.C., where injuries and inexperience have taken center stage with the new season approaching quickly.
There are questions all over the place, ranging from the status of Robert Griffin III's knee to the state of the maligned secondary. How will everything play out?
Luckily for the Redskins, these questions are not as intimidating as years past. There are solutions and there is time for everything to work itself out. With the 2013 season right around the corner, it's time to take stock of the burgundy and gold.
The Progress of Robert Griffin III
Is Robert Griffin III ready to return? All eyes will be on the star quarterback this offseason.
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The storyline that has and will continue to dominate the offseason is without a doubt the health of Robert Griffin III. He already has the most famous knee in D.C. history and fans and media will be keeping tabs on it all the way up to Week 1.
Washington has a good team, but the heart and soul of the squad is Griffin. If he isn't ready to go, then neither is the team. According to ESPN, he is planning to be back by the season opener, but should he be rushing?
In addition, will the offense change to protect him more? These are the questions that will dog RGIII until he suits up. The good news is that all signs thus far appear to be positive, and he should be near 100 percent barring any significant setbacks.
It is arguable whether or not RGIII is the best player on the team, but there is no question that he means a huge amount to the guys in the locker room. Without him, it could be a trying year. Week 1 is about two and a half months away, seemingly plenty of time for this amazing athletic specimen to get back to his full capacity.
The Rookies on Defense
Despite being a second-round pick, David Amerson faces a lot of pressure to perform quickly.
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The toughest players on the field to diagnose this season will be the rookies trying to take over in the defensive backfield. David Amerson, Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo, fair or not, will face an inordinate amount of pressure to make an impact.
Though the three young players were all drafted after the first round, they will still be expected to pick up the slack for a unit that ranks among the league's worst.
In a recent press conference, defensive coordinator Jim Haslett has been very complimentary of his new players, saying that they have shown flashes of greatness. They still have a lot to learn, but the defense's performance in 2013 could very well depend on how soon the rookies develop. There are no good options in that backfield, and it could fall on their shoulders to fix the issue.
The Offensive Schemes
The read option won't disappear from Washington's playbook, but the Redskins could scale back in 2013.
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The zone read option vaulted the Redskins from the offensive cellar to one of the most exciting and productive units in the NFL last year. It didn't come without a downside though, specifically the health and well-being of Robert Griffin III.
Kyle Shanahan has stated that he's willing to run almost the same scheme in 2013. This is smart because a quick glance at RGIII's injuries in 2012 shows that they were more a product of his inefficiency inside the pocket than his recklessness outside of it.
Still, it would also be smart to scale back on RGIII's tendency to run, mostly because he is recovering from a serious injury and should definitely be pampered. He means so much to the franchise that another serious injury could have major ramifications.
Nonetheless, it appears that Washington's offense will be just as creative and dangerous as it was last year. All that matters is that the quarterback remain healthy, and fans should trust the coaches to do their best to keep their most valuable asset on his feet.
Who Will Back Up Alfred Morris?
Jawan Jamison is one of a host of running backs who could be the second option behind Alfred Morris in 2013.
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The Redskins had the No. 1-ranked rushing offense in the NFL last year, but they will have to make some changes to even come close to repeating that.
Almost 90 percent of the team's total yardage came courtesy of Alfred Morris and RGIII. Morris, while a superb talent, will likely not reach 1,600 yards for a second year in a row, and RGIII will certainly run less than he did as a rookie to keep his knee healthy.
That means that someone will have to provide a change of pace behind Morris, something the Redskins had absolutely nothing of last year. The second-leading rusher in the backfield was Evan Royster, and he gained all of 88 yards on 23 carries.
There are many options. The Redskins smartly drafted Jawan Jamison and Chris Thompson, two guys who fit the mold of a third-down back. In addition, Royster will be back and so will the oft-injured but versatile Roy Helu.
Kyle Shanahan said that he doesn't exactly need a running back to fit the system, which really opens the doors for everyone fighting for a spot. To keep Morris' career on track, they will have to scale back his workload—and one of these guys will need to step up to keep the offense moving.
The Health of Brian Orakpo
After missing almost all of 2012, Brian Orakpo will be looking to dominate the opposition once again.
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Entering 2012, Brian Orakpo was arguably the best player donning burgundy and gold week in and week out. Then he was felled by a devastating injury and missed almost the entire year.
Good news: Orakpo appears ready to go, and is excited to be back. Rob Jackson was superb in his stead, but there is only one Brian Orakpo and the Redskins will welcome him back with open arms.
Much of the reason Washington ranked 30th against the pass last year was because they could not generate a consistent pass rush. This was a change from the previous year, when they fielded one of the best pass rushing units in the NFL. Orakpo's return will open up rushing lanes for Ryan Kerrigan—as well as every other player on the defense.
If Orakpo comes back with a bang, the Redskins could become a much better defensive team. He's the best player on that side of the ball, and may be the best overall player on the team. His return will inject new life into the defense and make life difficult for opposing offenses.
The London Fletcher Situation
While he's still going strong at 38, London Fletcher is not in the Redskins' plans for the future—and there doesn't seem to be a clear solution at the moment.
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Redskins fans love London Fletcher. How could you not? He is one of the nicest guys in the NFL, he plays his heart out each and every week, and he is still a solid linebacker.
That being said, Fletcher's time is coming to an end. He is 38 years old and while he's still a tackling machine, he's not getting any better.
This will be one of the biggest questions the Redskins will face as the offseason and regular season play out. Fletcher, as much as everyone hates to admit, won't be around forever and it is time to find a replacement. The middle linebacker is incredibly important in a 3-4 scheme, and it could be Washington's top priority in next year's draft.
Fletcher will perform well this year, but he may be holding the team back. It will be interesting to see how this situation works out, and who will take the reins once Fletcher calls it a career.
The Status of Adam Carriker
Adam Carriker hasn't recovered at the same rate as Brian Orakpo, leading to doubts about his ability to suit up this season.
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Brian Orakpo wasn't the only member of the defensive line to miss nearly the entire 2012 campaign. Adam Carriker suffered a debilitating injury on the same day as Orakpo, throwing the defensive line into chaos just two weeks into the season.
Unfortunately, Carriker's recovery is not going as well as Orakpo's and nobody is sure if he will even play in 2013. Jarvis Jenkins was his replacement last year and Jenkins showed flashes, but he struggled quite a bit as well. He may be a star someday, but Carriker is the better player and was a major reason the Redskins had a dominant front in 2011.
While it is not catastrophic if Carriker does not play this year, it would still be a major blow. He's a big part of the scheme and provides a pass rushing presence that the Redskins desperately need. His progress will be monitored closely by the team, fans and the media until he finally gets on the field.
The Defensive Backfield
DeAngelo Hall's return is good for Washington, but only because there were no other options readily available.
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A quick rundown of the Redskins' roster reveals that there are very few weaknesses on the team—save for the mess that is the defensive backfield.
There might not be a team in the NFL worse off than the Redskins when it comes to cornerback and safety. This team is straight up bad back there, and there is a lot that has to go right in order for the unit to be even decent in 2013.
DeAngelo Hall created a lot of buzz when he came back with a cheaper deal, mostly because Redskins fans simply wanted him out of town. But the sad reality is that Hall's return might have been the best news for the depleted secondary.
Josh Wilson, who is really nothing special by any stretch of the imagination, would have taken over the No. 1 cornerback spot. Richard Crawford, E.J. Biggers, or David Amerson likely would have duked it out for No. 2. How scary is that?
In addition, the safety position is in shambles. The future is bright, but it is clearly the weakest and most inexperienced part of the roster.
The defense's success will be predicated on the success of the secondary. It's not looking pretty right now, and everyone will be looking to see if the ragtag bunch in the defensive backfield can at least keep the games close.