Washington Redskins' Most Disappointing Players of the 2012 NFL Season
It's never fun to dissect the negative aspects of a playoff team, but it's a necessity with the Washington Redskins. It's a necessity for the fans to diagnose how they believe their favorite team will play in the coming year, and it's a necessity for the front office so that improvements can be made.
The most depressing way to follow up an exciting 10-6 year would be to falsely believe that there is little to be fixed.
In that regard, the Redskins have quite a lot to fix. It's arguable that Washington made the playoffs with a combination of heart and hard work as opposed to overall talent. And while multiple players contributed prominently to the magical season, there are several who simply didn't achieve as much success as they should have.
The five players that grace this dubious list are the biggest perpetrators when it comes to poor play over the course of the year, and they are the players that either need to step up or be replaced in order for the Redskins to take their performance to the next level.
During a year when so many things went right, these players were the ones who were the biggest disappointments and became more of a hindrance than anything else.
It may be a bit unfair to characterize Evan Royster as a disappointment, but he definitely falls into the "underachiever" category. Roy Helu's season-ending injury opened the door for Royster to become the team's starting running back, but he simply couldn't impress the coaches enough in the offseason.
This, of course, ended up working out splendidly, as Alfred Morris stepped in and set the franchise rushing record. But it was the first of many setbacks that would plague Royster for the entirety of 2012.
Royster became the team's third-down back, but he was a de facto bench player; you could chalk that up to the fact that Morris and Robert Griffin III combined for 455 carries, but the problem is that Royster had almost no production when he did touch the ball.
He had only 23 carries all season and averaged 3.8 yards per run, and he never had a run longer than 12 yards. For a supposed third-down back, he only picked up a first down on eight of those carries and had no measurable impact on any game.
Given RGIII's injury, it can be readily assumed that Royster is in store for more carries in 2013 (unless Helu is able to make a return). He must improve, or he'll be cut.
He brought absolutely nothing to the field last year and showed that if he's ever called upon, he probably can't be trusted.
Little was expected of him going into the year—but like I said, he still couldn't find any kind of a niche with the club, and he underachieved mightily after a promising rookie season. It's up to Royster to improve his game, or he'll find that the Redskins probably don't need him.
He could be a great backup, but unless he proves his worth, he'll be looking for work somewhere else.
It's very difficult to quantify the performance of an offensive lineman, because stats like sacks allowed and pancake blocks never really reveal the whole story of a player's production.
This is true in the case of Tyler Polumbus, who didn't allow an exorbitant amount of sacks but was still the outlier on a unit that was surprisingly strong in 2012.
Polumbus improved marginally as the year went on, but to think that he is the solution at right tackle is absurd. He has no special abilities that allow him to combat the best defensive ends in the game, and he hasn't provided any reason for the Redskins to continue paying him.
In fact, the only reason Polumbus started in the first place was because of a solid performance in the preseason and an injury to presumed incumbent Jammal Brown.
The Redskins' success on offense was predicated much of the time on the ingenious scheme and the overall ability of the guys carrying the ball. In addition, there is still work to be done in pass protection, especially on that right side.
Some of Polumbus' worst outings came early in the year against the Rams and the Bengals, where he was pushed around for the majority of the game. He just never seemed comfortable and while that might be attributed to him being a backup, you still have to be ready to play on Sunday in the NFL.
2012 was a very good year for the Redskins offensive line, but the front office can't be tricked by that success.
It's still a largely average front five (Trent Williams and Will Montgomery really picked up the slack for the rest of the unit) that must improve or the Redskins will be stuck as an inconsistent offensive football team.
Madieu Williams is yet another case of a backup being thrust into starting duty, but that didn't excuse his play in 2012.
Williams was terrible, and there's no sugarcoating it. After several solid seasons in Cincinnati and Minnesota (and an unsuccessful stop in San Francisco), Williams found himself in the defensive backfield in Washington and simply couldn't measure up.
Multiple injuries to Brandon Meriweather forced Williams into the lineup, and he might as well have been on the bench. He had one decent game, against Minnesota, and everything else was pretty bad. This included his botched coverage in the Week 7 loss to New York, when he lackadaisically allowed Victor Cruz to burn him for a 77-yard touchdown as time was running out.
The Redskins cornerbacks, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson, don't show up on this list because while they weren't great, they weren't terrible either. It just seemed like they were bad, and that's because of the play of guys like Williams.
There were no redeeming qualities to Williams' 2012 season, and the Redskins had better hope they get healthy in the secondary soon, because another season with him patrolling the defensive backfield has to make Redskins fans cringe.
If the NFL ever established a "Preseason Hall of Fame," guys like Brandon Banks would be enshrined easily. Banks seems to enjoy productive preseasons year after year, and they remain arguably the only reason he still holds a roster spot in the NFL.
Things went from bad to worse for Banks in 2012.
Already under fire for his declining production on punt and kickoff returns, Banks took it to a new low by averaging only 6.8 yards per punt return (with a long of just 27 yards). His kickoff returns were decent, but it's the punts that riled up the fanbase.
Banks returned punts like a wizard in the preseason, but in the regular season he suddenly became the second coming of Antwaan Randle-El—which, in Washington, is nothing to be proud of by any stretch of the imagination.
One of the biggest issues with Banks is his inability to bring anything to the field other than speed. He's not an option at wide receiver; he's way too small and has just 11 catches for 35 yards in three seasons.
He's strictly a returner, and he showed in 2012 that he's worn out his welcome. In fact, rookie Richard Crawford had a huge 64-yard punt return in overtime against Baltimore while spelling the struggling Banks.
Not only did the return save the season, it also meant the end for Banks.
Banks was disappointing because he has such electric speed and he failed to utilize it. We know he can return punts; we've seen him do it. But he was never able to shake the tendency to run east to west, and he's probably far too small to be a player of any type in the physical NFL.
It's unfortunate, but that's the way it goes in this league. If you're a one-trick pony, it's tough to make a living.
Tanard Jackson didn't play a single snap for the Washington Redskins, and that ended up being one of the most disappointing developments of the entire season.
During a year in which safety help would have been much appreciated, Jackson decided to be selfish and find a way to get himself suspended for violating the league's drug policy before he could even suit up.
Jackson is not the best safety in the NFL, but he's a definite upgrade over what the Redskins currently have. Who knows how far Washington could have gone last season if Jackson had been in to stop one or two long passes?
All it takes is a couple of good plays to turn a game, and Jackson could have been that X-factor.
But as it is, he made a stupid decision and cost himself and his team. In many ways, this is more disappointing than any amount of poor play on the field. It doesn't matter how good or bad a player you are, the most important thing you can do for your team is be available at all times. Injuries are justifiable, drug suspensions are not.
Jackson will be reinstated in August of 2013, and the Redskins will consider whether or not to keep him on the roster.
If he wants to stay, he'll have to convince the front office he's ready to grow up—he's been suspended by the league three times in his career for drug violations and hasn't shown the ability to stop. It's up to him to quit being selfish and start to play some football.
He may be in burgundy and gold next year, or he may not, but all that matters is that he wasn't available when his team needed him most. That's the most disappointing thing of all.