Eleven days from now the Washington Redskins will trek down interstate-95 to Richmond, Virginia to start their training camp.
Coming off a surprising 10-6 record and NFC East division title, the Redskins no longer are followed just regionally, as Robert Griffin and friends are being put through a microscope with their growing popularity.
Even without a major free agent signing or draft pick, the Burgundy and Gold will have another interesting training camp with numerous storylines that will be answered over the course of time.
You can find those below.
I can only hope the valuable lesson that Griffin, Mike Shanahan and the whole organization learned about player safety with his devastating knee injury in the playoffs.
From this point forward, the Redskins need to do everything they can to keep winning, but to also keep their face of the franchise healthy simultaneously.
Griffin’s slogan, “All-in for week one” has been implied that he’ll be the starting quarterback come opening night, however, that doesn’t guarantee anything.
I would expect Kirk Cousins to take almost all of the starting reps in the preseason as they move Griffin around accordingly.
Not to mention, Shanahan typically prefers to keep things close to the chest. Remember last year’s preseason games? That offense versus the regular season offense was unparalleled.
So if Griffin is in fact healthy and ready to go for Week 1, just how much rope is Shanahan willing to give him for training camp?
With David Amerson, Philip Thomas, Bacarri Rambo, E.J. Biggers and DeAngelo Hall returning, things are going to look different in comparison to last year’s secondary.
The secondary was clearly the biggest weakness in 2012. However, the Redskins made sure to emphasize that in the draft and in free agency.
If I could make a prediction, here’s how I see it starting out: Brandon Meriweather starts at strong safety with Reed Doughty playing opposite of him at free safety. DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson are the starting cornerbacks. In nickel formations, David Amerson moves to the outside cornerback position and DeAngelo Hall slides in to cover the slot receiver.
On the other hand, rookies Thomas and Rambo will see the playing field, as Doughty is best used in a reserve role.
Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett expects a lot from his DB’s and requires a lot of physicality. Richard Crawford, Chase Minnifield, Biggers and Jordan Bernstine will have opportunities as well.
This may not be as exciting as RGIII, but this will be the most competitive battle throughout training camp and will strongly reflect on how improved this defense will predictably be.
I don’t know how an unknown sixth-round draft pick from Florida Atlantic rushes for 1,600 yards in his rookie season and remains relatively quiet.
Alfred Morris wouldn’t have it any other way.
Despite his historical season, Morris’ success was often credited to the misdirection style offense that Kyle Shanahan designed and the threat that Griffin presented.
Now that we are a year removed from the “zone-read option” offense, will the Redskins and other teams continue to utilize it? Do opposing defenses finally have film on it that they can find a way to combat it—similar to the “wildcat”? Will the Redskins return back to their traditional offense, and is that how Alfred Morris will gain the respect that he deserves?
Even with a healthy Roy Helu returning and two running backs selected back in April, Alfred Morris will be seeing the first carries as the season comes along. While it’s incredibly difficult to have another 1,600-yard year, people are underestimating that this is what Shanahan is known for. Year in and year out, Shanahan continues to find runners that suit his offense.
With Morris’ health on his side (knock on wood), there shouldn’t be a reason why he can’t continue that high level of production.
When the former Texas Longhorn fell to the Redskins with the 13th overall pick, analysts and fans alike envisioned Brian Orakpo as a double-digit sack producer.
Frustratingly, that only happened once as injuries and inconsistencies have plagued the outside linebacker.
Orakpo is now entering the final year of his contract, and the Redskins have to decide if he is a part of the Redskins long-term plans.
Patience is no longer acceptable and Orakpo is now considered one the leaders of the locker room too. The biggest question is if he can remain healthy. If he can, then the Redskins can finally have the consistent pass rush that they’ve lacked for so many years.
When Brian Orakpo was out, Jim Haslett was forced to blitz often, thus putting his defensive backs in vulnerable positions. If Ryan Kerrigan and Orakpo can generate a pass rush without help from inside linebackers or cornerbacks, then we will see a surplus of turnovers.
The Cowboys did little in the offseason to improve their inefficiencies and are also transitioning to a 4-3 defensive scheme, so it may take a year for their personnel to adjust.
The Eagles are the wild card of the division. With Chip Kelly now at the helm, we really have no idea what he’s going to put on the field. They also invade FedEx Field Week 1.
My question is that is this a good thing that the Redskins are facing Kelly and Eagles at the beginning of the season as they are still “getting their feet wet”?
Or is it dangerous to face them early without enough film on Kelly’s tendencies?
With all that being considered, it’s the Redskins' division to lose. Even with a hobbled Robert Griffin, the 'Skins rightfully won it last year; therefore, they are the first ones up.
What I’m curious to see is if the Redskins can play with a target on their back. Will opposing teams finally fear them? Or are they going to drift back to mediocrity?