5 Biggest Obstacles Facing the Washington Redskins in 2013
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Going into 2013, there isn’t that much stacked against the Washington Redskins, and most of what could hurt them is dependent upon their own players.
There are many things that look like they could very well stop the Redskins from repeating as NFC East champs. They made a surprising playoff run last season when many counted the odds against them, but there are some new struggles just on the horizon in the Capital.
Whether it’s a players’ age or a potential “sophomore slump”, the Redskins may not be able to overcome their upcoming obstacles.
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A few years ago when Brandon Banks exploded onto the field for Washington during the preseason, many believed that they had found a poor man’s Devin Hester, but just like Chicago’s return ace, Banks has burned out.
One thing he had over most people was speed, but speed only does so much. Banks is no longer on the team, and it’s not quite clear who will be his replacement.
Special teams is written off by a lot of people for not being that important, but just ask the 2010 San Diego Chargers team (they allowed 30 points off of special teams in just three games); the return unit plays a big part in wins and losses.
More than the return unit, the kicker is also vital. Although upstart place-kicker Kai Forbath worked wonders for Washington’s field goal unit in 2012, he wasn’t nearly as good on kickoffs.
The Redskins have since brought in lead-footed John Potter, a second-year player from Kalamazoo who is expected to compete as the kickoff specialist for the burgundy and gold.
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Ah, the dreaded sophomore slump.
While some consider it more plaguing than the Madden curse, a sophomore slump is definitely something the Redskins want to avoid no matter what, especially because two of their best players are entering their second season.
Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris were arguably the best impact-players on the team last year, and given Washington’s bad luck with quality, young players and injuries (i.e. Lavar Arrington), there is definitely a reason to be worried.
Although the more skillful players always seem to rise above the slump, there are more variables in the equation than just skill.
A large part of the Redskins’ offense last year was the read-option, a fad which is sure to die out sooner or later just like the Wildcat formation.
While many believe RG3 and the rest of Washington’s running game will overcome the fad’s inevitable destruction, you can never know for sure.
London Fletcher's Age
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Ever since coming to Washington in 2007, London Fletcher has been one of the best players on the roster.
He’s tallied over 100 tackles in each of his six seasons with the team, and had a career-high interception total last season with five picks.
Despite his consistent production, he just turned 38 years old. This could very easily be the year in which we see Fletcher start to decline, which would be a big blow to a defense that depends heavily on its veteran leader in the middle.
He’s never missed a game, and that’s obviously great, but we did see him slow down just a bit last season, and could be seeing him slow down even more in 2013.
It is definitely time for the Redskins to start looking for a solid replacement for the future Hall of Famer, because hopes aren’t entirely high for Keenan Robinson, although Perry Riley has been playing well as of late.
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Seven of their games are against playoff teams from last season, with a big date at the Green Bay Packers coming in Week 2.
They also have their bye-week pretty early this season (Week 5), which could potentially hurt them down the line as the season wears on and their players get tired.
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The most obvious obstacle facing Washington in 2013 is injuries, but not just RG3’s injuries.
Other important players like Pierre Garçon and Brian Orakpo will also be coming back from injury, and it’s unclear as to how they will bounce back from missing most of 2013. Neither player has missed much time in their careers, so it will be interesting to see how they do in their respective returns.
Now, when it comes to RG3, anything could happen.
Many NFL pundits have suggested that he stop running entirely, but that’d be changing the type of player he is.
He doesn’t need to stop running, he needs to start running smarter. Picking his holes and seals will be vital to keeping a healthy knee and a healthy RG3.
There was a distinct difference between when the former Heisman winner was in the game and when he wasn’t. Even though Kirk Cousins was a pretty quality replacement, we all know he isn’t as good as No. 10.