At this moment in the season, it is clear that the Washington Redskins are in a downward spiral. Although it is still possible for the Redskins to make the playoffs, if they continue at their current level of play they won’t get anywhere near the postseason.
Regardless of what happens the rest of the season, it is becoming clear what positions the Redskins will need to address in the upcoming 2009 NFL draft...
Simply put, Washington’s O-line play has been atrocious. The pass blocking is some of the worst in the entire league and is the main reason for Jason Campbell’s recent struggles.
Washington’s youngest starting lineman is Chris Samuels (LT) at the veteran age of 31. Although Samuels and Pete Kendall (LG) have been solid this year, the fact is they aren’t getting any younger.
From center to right tackle the Skins could use some immediate upgrades. Center Casey Rabach seems unable to block against the bull rush or pick up any type of A-gap blitzes. Right guard Randy Thomas and the once solid Jon Jansen (RT) are shells of what they used to be. Both have been repeatedly beat this year by D-linemen and D-ends.
This causes Campbell to get rid of the ball earlier, not allowing plays to develop or receivers to get open.
The Redskins need to draft some young talent to put in front of Jason Campbell. In only his second year starting and seventh offensive system in eight years, Campbell is still developing. He will need some protection in the near future so he can grow as a quarterback and achieve his potential.
Although the Skins are only yielding 88 YPG on the ground, the lack of pressure from the four-man rush has been a consistent problem throughout the season. The unhealthy Jason Taylor and ineffective Andre Carter have not been getting it done in the pass rush.
Constantly opposing quarterbacks have dropped back and had all the time in the world to let the play develop as Washington’s front four can’t get near the QB.
The Redskins only have 19.0 sacks all season, ranking them 28th in the league in that category. The D-ends have combined for a measly four sacks. The lack of pressure has resulted in some big plays and tough losses for the Redskins throughout the year.
What they need is a legitimate pass rusher, someone who is going after the quarterback every play and can disrupt the passing game.
There is no denying the talent that middle linebacker London Fletcher possesses. He has put together a pro-bowl season with 100 tackles so far and has quietly had a Hall of Fame career with 116 tackles over the last eight seasons.
The problem is that Fletcher is 33 years old and won’t be around forever. Fletcher may only have a year or two left in him before hanging it up.
Linebacker Marcus Washington is also very talented on the defensive side, however he has not been able to stay consistently healthy since 2006 and has lost a step when blitzing. Washington has only played in eight games this season, recording a very forceless 37 tackles.
The Skins are going to need two linebackers in the upcoming years. Quick linebackers have been a staple for this defense for many seasons and the eventual loss of Fletcher and Washington is going to leave a huge hole that will need to be filled soon.
That’s right I said running back. We all know how great a season Clinton Portis is having. Portis is second in the league in rushing sitting at an impressive 1228 yards thus far. However, since entering the league in 2002, no running back in the league has had more carries than Portis.
Although he has only missed more than two games in a season twice in his career, Portis has been unhealthy and injured from week to week for the past several years. Portis’ body has taken a severe beating through his career, especially during his time with the Redskins.
When he has played in 15 or more games in a season, Portis has gotten at least 325 carries in each of those years. His body has taken a toll and unfortunately he may only have one or two years left before he can’t physically cut it any more.
Currently, the two lines are Washington’s most glaring weaknesses, but without a pick in the first and the third round of next year's draft the Skins may not be able to fix everything immediately. However, these are the positions that will need to be tended to.
It will be important for rookie coach Jim Zorn to have a very successful draft as the majority of his previous picks have turned out to be busts. These are the needs the Redskins should look to fill at the 2009 NFL draft.