Grading Every Washington Redskins Starter's 2013 Regular Season

James Dudko@@JamesDudkoFeatured ColumnistDecember 30, 2013

Grading Every Washington Redskins Starter's 2013 Regular Season

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    Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    You won't find many positive grades from the Washington Redskins' dismal 2013 NFL season. That is the inevitable byproduct of a 3-13 campaign, the worst finish since 1994.

    The Redskins were poor in all three phases of the game this season. They struggled in the trenches on both offense and defense and received indifferent performances at the most important position on the team.

    But even in the midst of all their losing and mediocrity, the Redskins still featured a handful of standout performers. They include a record-breaking wide receiver and a Pro Bowl offensive lineman.

    That duo forms the core a new coach can rebuild this team around. Here are the final season grades for the Washington starters, beginning at quarterback.


    All statistics via


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    It has been a tumultuous year at quarterback.
    It has been a tumultuous year at quarterback.Scott Cunningham/Getty Images

    Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins: D

    Turmoil at quarterback threw last season's NFC East winners into chaos. It started with Robert Griffin III's alarming regression in his second season.

    A dip in form was natural following major offseason knee surgery, but Griffin was just dire for long stretches of 2013. He threw 12 interceptions and had serious issues with his footwork, delivery and working through reads.

    When Griffin was sent to the bench after Week 14, Kirk Cousins stepped into the breach. Despite a fast start, including 381 yards and three touchdowns in Week 15, Cousins soon struggled.

    He finished with seven interceptions and a meagre completion percentage of 52.3. Like Griffin, Cousins often folded under pressure and took too many unnecessary risks with the ball.

Running Back

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    Alfred Morris was the prime target for defenses in 2013.
    Alfred Morris was the prime target for defenses in 2013.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Alfred Morris: B

    Roy Helu Jr., Evan Royster: D

    With so many problems at quarterback, workhorse running back Alfred Morris became the primary focus for defenses. That he still managed to rush for 1,275 yards despite the extra attention is a testament to Morris' skill as a punishing zone runner.

    He often overcame struggles early in games when he was faced with eight-man fronts. Morris finished the season with a respectable average of 4.6 yards per carry.

    Had Washington not trailed in so many games and if the play-calling had favored the run as much as it should, his numbers would be even higher.

    The only negative mark on his season comes courtesy of four lost fumbles. Putting the ball on the ground has become a concern with Morris.

    He also wasn't helped by being asked to shoulder too much of the burden in the ground game. Despite being talented runners, Roy Helu Jr. and Evan Royster were only given 64 carries between them.

    Helu had 62 of those attempts and gained 274 yards. Four touchdowns were the best part of his rushing season.


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    Darrel Young excelled at times.
    Darrel Young excelled at times.Patrick McDermott/Getty Images

    Darrel Young: A

    At times this season, Darrel Young showed what a talented and versatile fullback he is. The converted linebacker showcased able skills as both a runner and receiver.

    Young scored four touchdowns, including three on the ground in Week 9 against the San Diego Chargers. He also proved how effective he is as a blocker, delivering a series of brutal hits leading the way for Morris.

Wide Receiver

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    Pierre Garcon was in a class by himself.
    Pierre Garcon was in a class by himself.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    Pierre Garcon: A

    The Rest: D

    Pierre Garcon was in a class by himself this season. The man whose bumper free-agent deal raised a few eyebrows in 2012 more than justified the investment in 2013.

    Garcon recorded 113 receptions, a new franchise record for a single season. He amassed 1,346 yards and five touchdowns.

    Garcon became the roving playmaker no team could account for or stop. If only his supporting cast had been even half as good.

    Leonard Hankerson, Joshua Morgan, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson and rookie Nick Williams all saw time alongside Garcon. Each was blighted by costly drops and an inability to consistently get behind defenses or make yards after the catch.

    The struggles by the rest make this a definite position of need this offseason.

Tight End

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    Rookie Jordan Reed showed the potential to dominate.
    Rookie Jordan Reed showed the potential to dominate.Matthew Stockman/Getty Images

    Jordan Reed: A

    The Rest: D

    When the Redskins drafted Jordan Reed in the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, many questioned the wisdom of the pick. After all, the team already had Fred Davis.

    But Reed didn't take long to prove he was not only a smart pick, but a potential steal. Despite making just four starts and missing seven games through injury, Reed finished as the team's second-leading receiver.

    He made 45 grabs for 499 yards and three touchdowns. Like Garcon, Reed attacked defenses from every angle. He is a "joker" in the lineup with the potential to be dominant at his position, provided he can stay healthy.

    But also like Garcon, Reed was far from ably supported. Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul and Davis all failed to make a significant impact this term. Granted, the trio was not exactly helped by their coaching staff's seeming refusal to use them enough. 

Offensive Line

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    Trent Williams booked himself a place in the Pro Bowl.
    Trent Williams booked himself a place in the Pro Bowl.Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Trent Williams: B

    Left tackle Trent Williams was the one member of the Washington O-line to emerge from the season with any credit. His efforts earned him a place in the Pro Bowl.

    The best of those efforts often came in the running game. As the most physical member of the offensive front, Williams is downright nasty when clearing the way for stretch runs.

    No second-level defenders want to see this mean-spirited, 6'5", 325-pounder coming their way.

    While Williams did have some struggles in pass protection, he showed enough improvement in this area to warrant his status as one of the game's best young players at his position.


    Kory Lichtensteiger: F

    Like every member of the interior line, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger spent most of the season getting pushed around. He couldn't handle beefy defensive tackles or respond to linebackers blitzing the middle.


    Will Montgomery: F

    Center Will Montgomery was at the heart of a group that never solved its problems with the blitz. Montgomery rarely identified the source of pressure or adjusted those around him to deal with it.


    Chris Chester: F

    Chris Chester was thrown around like a rag doll for most of the campaign. The former Baltimore Raven was routinely pushed off the ball. Chester couldn't repel inside pressure or make himself a force in the running game.

    The interior of this O-line needs a major overhaul this offseason.


    Tyler Polumbus: D

    Tyler Polumbus was a disaster in pass protection. But the much-maligned right tackle did a creditable job blocking for the run.

    Morris made plenty of positive gains running the stretch play to the right behind Polumbus. But those efforts are not enough to ignore the obvious need for an upgrade at this position.

Defensive End

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    Chris Baker wound up being the best of the defensive ends.
    Chris Baker wound up being the best of the defensive ends.Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY

    Chris Baker: C

    Jarvis Jenkins, Kedric Golston, Stephen Bowen: D

    It was a poor year for the defensive line. The group's inability to get into the backfield on a regular basis hamstrung the entire defense.

    Of the defensive ends, big Chris Baker ultimately proved to be the best. He was in on 28 combined tackles and notched a sack. Baker was the only member of this rotation to cause real disruption.

    As for the rest, Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston were mediocre. Neither generated enough push on the pocket or did enough to fill running lanes.

    Veteran Stephen Bowen missed six games through injury and although he had not been as effective as he was in 2011 and 2012, his presence was sorely missed.

Nose Tackle

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    Chris Neild showed some promise in the season's final weeks.
    Chris Neild showed some promise in the season's final weeks.Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    Barry Cofield, Chris Neild: D

    There was not enough penetration from the nose tackle position this season. Starter Barry Cofield continued to impress as a pass-rusher from nickel fronts, but was often a non-factor from the 3-4.

    In fact, 2011 seventh-round pick Chris Neild looked more at home in the base defense. The lack of dominance at this position was the main reason the run defense slipped from fifth in 2012 to 17th this year.

    Adding a more disruptive two-gapper to anchor the trenches is a must this offseason.

Outside Linebacker

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    Brian Orakpo was in superb form this season.
    Brian Orakpo was in superb form this season.Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

    Brian Orakpo: B

    Ryan Kerrigan: C

    The Rest: C

    It was an outstanding year for Brian Orakpo, who finally seemed to warm to playing outside rush linebacker in a 3-4. Orakpo went on a tear during the second half of the season and finished with 10 sacks.

    He became the lone Redskins defender all opponents feared. The pending free agent must be retained in the offseason.

    On the other side, 2011's first-round pick Ryan Kerrigan impressed only in patches. Kerrigan logged 8.5 sacks, along with 66 tackles and four forced fumbles.

    The only quibble with Kerrigan's performances is the disparity between them. He recorded 6.5 sacks in his first seven games, but just two in the final nine.

    Of the backups, Rob Jackson was the best in the rotation; he collected a pair of sacks. After a strong preseason, veteran Darryl Tapp was a major disappointment, only registering a single sack.

    The Redskins should stick with their 3-4 defense, largely because of their obvious talent at this position.


Inside Linebacker

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    Perry Riley Jr. flourished in 2013.
    Perry Riley Jr. flourished in 2013.Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

    Perry Riley Jr.: B

    London Fletcher: C

    Nick Barnett: D

    Perry Riley Jr. flourished as the season wore on. The fourth-round pick in 2010 emerged as a jack of all trades at the heart of this 3-4 defense.

    Riley led the team in tackles with 115, 72 of which were solo stops. He also recorded three sacks and was a useful part of the blitz schemes.

    But Riley's biggest improvement came in the passing game. He got his hands on his first interception as a pro and defensed a career-high nine passes.

    Riley showed good instincts as a zone defender and a knack for making plays in passing lanes. Along with Orakpo and Baker, he is a defensive free agent this team must bring back.

    While his young understudy thrived, greybeard London Fletcher laboured through what could prove to be his final season. The 38-year-old wasn't the active playmaker he was in 2012.

    But Fletcher still managed 111 tackles, a pair of sacks and a forced fumble. His savvy, commitment and skill in the middle will be missed.

    Veteran Nick Barnett looked like a shrewd signing when he was added to provide cover behind Fletcher and Riley. But the 32-year-old was barely noticeable most of the season.

    With the right player added alongside Riley and better depth, this can be a position of strength in 2014.


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    Brandon Meriweather muddled his way through a poor season.
    Brandon Meriweather muddled his way through a poor season.Brace Hemmelgarn-USA TODAY Sport

    Brandon Meriweather: F

    Brandon Meriweather was supposed to be a veteran leader at his position. Instead, all he did was set a bad example with illegal hits and mediocre performances.

    Meriweather was fined twice by the league for hits to the head, including two in the same game against the Chicago Bears in Week 7. The 29-year-old was also often missing in action in coverage.


    Reed Doughty: D

    Solid old head Reed Doughty sort of steadied the ship for the secondary when he became a starter at the halfway point. The 31-year-old finished with 80 tackles and was effective in run support.

    But as ever with Doughty, he was found wanting in coverage.


    Bacarri Rambo: F

    Sixth-round pick Bacarri Rambo was in and out of the lineup all season, and with good reason. The former Georgia product looked lost in deep coverage, often taking terrible angles.

    Rambo also didn't do his bit stepping up to stop the run. For a player who joined the team with a reputation as a ball hawk, the rookie failed to get his hands on the ball.


    Jose Gumbs and Jordan Pugh: D

    Jose Gumbs and Jordan Pugh saw only limited action, but both still managed to snare an interception.

    Adding legitimate talent at this position has to be an offseason priority.


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    David Amerson showed potential even during a tough rookie season.
    David Amerson showed potential even during a tough rookie season.Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

    DeAngelo Hall: B

    DeAngelo Hall was at his opportunistic best for most of the season. In his 11th year, Hall intercepted four passes and forced a trio of fumbles. He also helped himself to three touchdowns.

    Hall had a strangely inconsistent year in coverage. He was often stellar against some of the game's best receivers. He was superb against Calvin Johnson of the Detroit Lions in Week 3 and also shackled Dez Bryant of the Dallas Cowboys.

    But Hall's concentration was not always the best against lesser opponents.


    David Amerson: C

    The team's top pick in 2013, David Amerson endured a rough introduction to life in the NFL. He was burned deep, early and often.

    Aaron Rodgers and Jordy Nelson of the Green Bay Packers tormented Amerson in Week 2. But gradually, the young defensive back started to turn a corner.

    Whenever he was allowed to use his 6'1", 205-pound frame in more physical and aggressive coverage, Amerson showed real potential.


    Josh Wilson: D

    Josh Wilson spent most of the 2013 season occupying the slot. It is fair to say the role didn't ideally suit the veteran.

    Wilson enjoyed some decent moments, such as stealing two turnovers in Week 17 against the New York Giants. But the positives were usually balanced out by lapses in coverage. Wilson was often beat vertically in the seams.


    E.J. Biggers: F

    Whether asked to play cornerback or safety, E.J. Biggers proved a disaster. If he wasn't arriving late to provide cover over the top of deep routes, Biggers was being easily beaten in single coverage on the outside.

    A lone interception was the only bright spot from his otherwise dismal season.


    Trenton Robinson: D

    Former San Francisco 49er Trenton Robinson deflected two passes in his only meaningful action of the season. That came against the Giants in the final week, and one of Robinson's pass breakups created an interception for Wilson.

    Just like safety, this position needs an infusion of new blood.

Special Teams

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    Kicker Kai Forbath was decent on an otherwise dreadful special teams unit.
    Kicker Kai Forbath was decent on an otherwise dreadful special teams unit.Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

    Grade: F

    Horrific is an apt word to describe the performance of the Washington special teams in 2013. Looking back on the unit's season inspires memories of Marlon Brando's Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now, "The Horror...The Horror!"

    Coverage was abysmal and the return game was nonexistent, while Sav Rocca made every punt an exercise in nerve control.

    Only kicker Kai Forbath was anywhere close to decent. He missed on only four kicks all season and was this unit's lone reliable figure.


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    Mike Shanahan has left the Redskins in a mess.
    Mike Shanahan has left the Redskins in a mess.Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

    Keith Burns: F

    Mike Shanahan's former player struggled to handle life at the deep end as a first-year coordinator for the Redskins. Keith Burns' special teams unit was an unmitigated disaster from start to finish, with accusations suggesting players simply didn't respond to his coaching.


    Jim Haslett: D

    Jim Haslett has not produced a solid defense in any of his four seasons in D.C. He has failed to maximize the talent at this disposal and sufficiently mask the weaknesses.

    At times this season, Haslett has shown some creativity. He showed both the Cowboys and the Giants a lot of different looks and pressures.

    But those tweaks came far too late in the day. Haslett has never achieved a balance between pressure and coverage, as well as solid fundamentals and schematic creativity.


    Kyle Shanahan: D

    Many of the same things that indict Haslett's stewardship of the defense apply to the way Kyle Shanahan has run the offense. There have been examples of tremendous daring and clever play design.

    But those instances have been undermined by a dreadful lack of balance and a failure to stress the basics.


    Mike Shanahan: F

    The ultimate responsibility for the failure of the players and the assistant coaches belongs with Mike Shanahan. He inherited a team that had talent, but had been let down by coaching, and somehow made things worse. Now, thankfully, his time is reportedly almost up.

    The root of the problem has been Shanahan's insistence on implementing ideas without the players to suit them. He scrapped the 4-3 defense when that unit was a strong point of the team.

    But that decision is nothing compared to the mess he has made at quarterback. Donovan McNabb, Rex Grossman, John Beck, Griffin and Cousins have all seen time under center during the Shanahan era.

    The procession of quarterbacks being sent to the bench has created a divided team, with many of the problems coming to a head this season. This roster is weighed down by players blaming one another and engaging in power struggles.

    That reality is inevitable and tied to a head coach who has shifted the blame for failure every year since he arrived. This season has to be the final straw.