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5 Things We've Learned About the Washington Redskins Through 4 Weeks

David ShockeyContributor IIOctober 2, 2013

5 Things We've Learned About the Washington Redskins Through 4 Weeks

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    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Heading into the 2013-14 season, there were many questions surrounding the reigning NFC East champion Washington Redskins.

    How healthy is Robert Griffin III? Will anyone emerge behind Pierre Garcon as a legitimate receiving threat? How will the rookies fare in their first NFL games?

    After a disappointing 1-3 start to open the season, the Redskins have answers to many of those questions.

    The biggest question remaining is, can the Redskins turn it around in time to win an NFC East that's up for grabs?

    Here's what we've learned so far.

Griffin Is Healthy, but He Lacks His Explosiveness from 2012

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    Greg Fiume/Getty Images

    Despite Griffin's claims that he is 100 percent, anyone with eyes can see that he is just not the same player he was last year. He is regaining his dynamic athletic ability week by week, though.

    Only time will tell whether or not he can regain his Rookie of the Year form from last year.

    It's a sad sight when RGIII is being caught from behind by defensive linemen. Unfortunately, it's a sight all too familiar to Redskins fans this year. He is still a mobile quarterback, but he no longer threatens defenses the way he used to.

    The Redskins offense has suffered so far this season due to the lack of Griffin as a running threat. Alfred Morris is now the primary target of the defense, as Griffin is no longer able to beat the opposition on one play with his legs.

    The good news is that Griffin is improving.

    He looks more comfortable moving up in he pocket, as he did often against the Oakland Raiders. He also displayed some escapability, eluding the rush in the fourth quarter to hit Roy Helu for a 28-yard gain on a touchdown drive that sealed the game.

Leonard Hankerson Has Become the No. 2 Wide Receiver

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    Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Fans have been waiting on Leonard Hankerson to emerge for years now. It appears the wait may finally be over.

    While Hankerson hasn't exactly lit the NFL world on fire, he has become a more consistent performer, which is exactly what Robert Griffin III needs in his second year. This season, Hankerson currently has 15 receptions on 23 targets for 185 yards.

    His stats may not be eye-popping, but the number fans should be focusing on is 0. That's the number of drops Hankerson has had so far this year.

    If Hankerson can remain a consistent target, expect Griffin to start going to Hankerson more and more as the year progresses.

The 2013 Rookies Need More Time to Develop

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    Al Messerschmidt/Getty Images

    It's certainly not surprising that Washington's rookie defensive backs have been burned more than a few times in their first taste of the NFL.

    That still doesn't mean their performance hasn't been disappointing.

    The Redskins had high hopes for free safety Bacarri Rambo, who started each of the first two games. After a lackluster start that saw Pro Football Focus (subscription required) award him a -8.3 rating, he was promptly benched in favor of the more consistent veteran, Reed Doughty.

    Cornerback David Amerson has also struggled, being constantly targeted by opposing quarterbacks. Amerson is a ball hawk, but his risk-taking has cost the Redskins.

    He slightly redeemed himself Sunday with a pick-six, but that play was more a product of Matt Flynn's hesitancy to throw than Amerson's coverage skills.

    Jordan Reed has been a bright spot for the Redskins. He looks to be a dynamic playmaker and Griffin's preferred tight end target. If Reed can stay healthy and continue to make plays, Fred Davis may be on his way out.

Special Teams Are a Serious Issue

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    Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

    In short, special teams have been nothing short of a disaster this year.

    Former special teams coach Danny Smith is in Pittsburgh and 2012 special teams captain Lorenzo Alexander signed with the Arizona Cardinals. The Redskins weren't exactly great at special teams last year before losing their longtime coach and captain.

    Chris Thompson ranks 21st in punt return average. But as the primary punt returner, he's only had seven attempts. For one reason or another, Thompson has been avoiding returning punts at any cost.

    Sav Rocca's punting has been horrendous, ranked 33rd in the NFL with an average of 41.1 yards per punt.

    As noted by Football Outsiders, the poor punting and return game also find the Redskins with the 30th-ranked average starting field position, beginning drives at their own 23-yard line.

London Fletcher Is Not the Player He Once Was

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    Patrick Smith/Getty Images

    It's a long season, but so far it seems as though Father Time may have finally caught up with London Fletcher.

    Pro Football Focus (subscription required) currently ranks Fletcher 78th out of 79 inside linebackers with a rating of -11.9.  Fletcher's seven missed tackles are tied for third-worst among all inside linebackers.

    The verdict is still out on Fletcher, though, as he has shown improvement over his last two games. Most of his negative ranking comes from trying to tackle LeSean McCoy, who can make anyone look bad.

    Nick Barnett has begun to spell Fletcher for around 10 plays a game over the last two games. This has allowed Fletcher to rest up and be more effective for the remaining 50-60 plays.

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