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2014 Team Report: Washington Redskins


Starter: Robert Griffin III
Backup(s): Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy

Starting QB: Robert Griffin's second season didn't go as planned, culminating in a toxic situation where head coach Mike Shanahan benched Griffin and was promptly fired after the season. In spite of the tumultuous second season, expectations are high for the talented 24-year old signal caller. Griffin returned too quickly from a torn ACL and didn't trust his legs; that won't be a problem in 2014. New head coach Jay Gruden managed to make Andy Dalton an effective NFL passer, imagine what he can do with someone of Griffin's multi-faceted talents. As if that weren't enough, Griffin gets the added benefit of wide receiver DeSean Jackson lining up opposite Pierre Garcon. There's arguably no better duo in the NFC East.

Backup QB: Not long ago Kirk Cousins was considered an asset that could be flipped by Washington when the time was right. A young, talented pocket passer that would execute a West Coast offense with precision. Cousins may still possess that upside, but last year his regular season play took a bit of luster off his pedigree. Cousins was ineffective, completing a woeful 52% of his passes, throwing just four touchdowns in 155 attempts, and turning the ball over 10 times. Colt McCoy has played well throughout the preseason and may convince the coaches to keep three quarterbacks on the 53-man roster.

Running Backs

Starter: Alfred Morris
Backup(s): Roy Helu, Silas Redd [R]
Fullback(s): Darrel Young

Starting RB: Alfred Morris had to be unhappy to see Mike and Kyle Shanahan walk out of the team's complex. The Shanahan's offensive system is well known for turning average running backs into statistical stars, and Morris profiles as just that type of player. Morris ran for 2,888 yards and 20 touchdowns over two seasons, and perfected the one-cut-and-go style necessary to thrive in Shanahan's zone-blocking scheme. Yet Jay Gruden's scheme is different, and in Cincinnati they made liberal use of a running back committee. Morris' role as a workhorse is no longer a given, but his punishing running style and goal-line effectiveness ensure he will remain the team's top ball carrier.

Backup RBs: Roy Helu is the clear-cut number two and will see plenty of time as a complementary runner and a 3rd-down specialist. In a preseason surprise, undrafted rookie free agent Silas Redd beat out Evan Royster, Chris Thompson and Lache Seastrunk for the final roster spot. Redd is a 5'10, 212 lbs. former #1 prospect who played college ball at both Penn State and USC.

Fullback: Darrel Young continues providing the Redskins with an effective lead blocker.

Wide Receivers

Starters: DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon
Backups: Aldrick Robinson, Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant [R], Santana Moss, Leonard Hankerson

Starting WRs: Pierre Garcon shook off worries about his feet to play all 16 games and dominate as a possession receiver. Garcon led the NFL with 113 receptions for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. Garcon has never been a prolific scorer, but he moves the chains and is clearly Robert Griffin's most trusted outlet. Garcon will benefit this year from less defensive focus, as opposing team's number one corner will now turn their attention to DeSean Jackson. Jackson joins Washington after six seasons starring for division rival Philadelphia. Jackson is among the league's most dangerous deep threats and a dynamic open field runner. Last season he led the Eagles in receptions (82), yards (1,332) and touchdowns (9). As long as he can stay healthy -- in particular avoid concussions -- Jackson will give Griffin a game-breaking threat he's yearned for in his first two seasons.

Backup WRs: Washington made a commitment to revamping a lackluster receiving corps. DeSean Jackson was the prize, but the team also bolstered depth with the signing of Andre Roberts and the selection of Ryan Grant in the 5th round of the NFL draft. Santana Moss continues to find a way to hang onto the roster for another season, although his role should be minimal barring significant injuries ahead of him on the depth chart.

Tight Ends

Starters: Jordan Reed
Backups: Niles Paul, Logan Paulsen

Jordan Reed had detractors coming into his rookie season, but earned the respect of NFL pundits and his teammates by season's end. Reed's 45 receptions for 499 yards and 3 touchdowns would be impressive without any asterisk, but when you consider Reed only started four games, it hints at potential greatness. Reed showed an aggressiveness and willingness to fight for balls in the intermediate zone that didn't necessarily show up on his college tape. If that aggressiveness persists, Reed will have plenty of opportunities to catch passes 10 to 15 yards downfield as DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon stretch defenses vertically. Paulsen has been merely competent when asked to play due to starter injury, and Paul has great speed as a converted wide receiver, but little else to offer.

Place Kicker

Kai Forbath: Somewhat surprisingly, Washington was the first team to draft a kicker this year – Zach Hocker (Arkansas). Although he’ll compete with returning starter Kai Forbath on placekicks, he’ll do moreso on kickoffs, with the potential of being retained as a kickoff specialist. In two partial seasons with the team, Forbath has made 35 of 40 (87.5%) field goals. Tress Way was claimed off waivers for the holder/punter job. Long snapper Nick Sundberg returns from IR. After hovering near the top ten in attempted kicking points for three straight years, Washington dropped to 29th in 2013.

Kick and Punt Returners

Kick Returners: Andre Roberts, Jamison Crowder [R], Beshaud Breeland, Niles Paul

Washington has struggled in the return game for several years, and hoped to address that issue with last season's addition of receiver Andre Roberts. Roberts managed 23.7 yards per kickoff return, an improvement over the year before, but nothing spectacular by NFL standards. The selection of Jamison Crowder in the 2015 NFL Draft may provide Roberts with some competition, though Crowder is more highly regarded as a punt returner.

Punt Returners: Jamison Crowder [R], Andre Roberts

Andre Roberts was an elite punt returner in college, coming in fifth in the nation in yards per return as a senior and having led the nation as a junior. His first season as Washington's returner resulted in a middling 7.4 yard average. Coach Jay Gruden has said that rookie Jamison Crowder will immediately be competing for the punt returner job. At Duke, Crowder had a 13.4 yard average and scored 4 touchdowns in 65 punt returns as a 4 year returner.

Offensive Line

Projected Starters: LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Chris Chester, RT Tyler Polumbus
Key Backups: T Morgan Moses [R], T Bruce Campbell, G Maurice Hurt, G Spencer Long [R], G Josh LeRibeus. G Adam Gettis, G Mike McGlynn

The Redskins offensive line is currently ranked about middle of the pack. The good news is that the team still has an elite player in left tackle Trent Williams, who is coming off his second consecutive Pro Bowl selection. Williams is known as one the league’s best pass protectors and should man this position for many years to come. Next to him, the Redskins signed Shawn Lauvao from the Cleveland Browns to play left guard. Lauvao is known as a grinder and not in the usual zone blocking form that this team usually prefers. Still he is a solid (sometimes good) player who will make this unit better. Kory Lichtensteiger has vacated his left guard position for Lauvao and has moved to center, where many in the league believe he can play his best football. Lichtensteiger is an extremely strong player at the point of attack and should continue to play with an edge at his new position. However center is a different position than guard and he will have added responsibilities with various shotgun snaps (pistol formation is featured heavily in this offense) and making the blocking calls. Right guard is a competition at this point with veteran addition Chris Chester likely battling with third round rookie Spencer Long. It is tough to predict but the veteran seems likely to keep the job, at least for the start of the season. At right tackle, incumbent Tyler Polumbus is going to face a ton of competition, with the third round pick of Morgan Moses and the signing of Bruce Campbell. Either of these players would be an upgrade over Polumbus, who has been inconsistent as a starter. The Redskins have several other interesting depth names, for example Maurice Hurt, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis and Mike McGlynn. Obviously some of these guys won’t make the cut and it will be interesting to see who the coaching staff favors this preseason. Whoever is cut could go and contribute for another squad. Overall this line is going through some transition, and if the new starters can settle in, and some of the rookies step up, they have the potential to be very good going forward.

Team Defense

The strength of this defense is at OLB with Orakpo and Kerrigan providing a fierce pass rush. As good as the outside linebackers are, there are plenty of questions on the inside with the departure of London Fletcher. They'll need the defensive line to be really good to be effective and the addition of Jason Hatcher at least makes that possible. DeAngelo Hall and Ryan Clark provide veteran leadership but this secondary has the potential to be a train wreck. There just isn't enough talent outside of Hall and Clark and those two are the type of transcendent players to carry a secondary.

Defensive Line

Starters: DE Jason Hatcher, DE Jarvis Jenkins, NT Barry Cofield,
Backups: DE Kedric Golston, DE Stephen Bowen, DE Clifton Geathers, DE Doug Worthington, NT Chris Baker, NT Chris Neild, NT Brandon Moore (suspended)

Starting DL: In an effort to improve their pass rush, the Redskins brought in former Cowboy and pocket-pusher Jason Hatcher to play the "4 technique" position on their line. Hatcher dramatically improves their front line but will be hard pressed to match his year ago production in his new role under defensive coordinator Jim Haslett. Cofield remains an extremely effective pass-rushing nose tackle who will likely be spelled by the more stout run defender Chris Baker in obvious run situations. Former 2nd round pick, Jarvis Jenkins has yet to live up to expectations producing 46 total tackles and 2 sacks in two combined seasons. If he doesn't show signs of improvement early in the season, there's potential for him to be demoted to a rotational role.

Backup DL: Chris Baker is the most solidified player in this backup group and could very well leapfrog Jarvis Jenkins as the starting opposite Jason Hatcher. The other three to four backup spots are a virtual toss up between the remaining current reserves. Golston, Bowen, and Geathers have all been rather unproductive throughout their careers and are nothing more than big body fillers up front at this point. The same can probably be said about Bowen. Davenport and Thomas are undrafted long shots and Worthington has been around, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy.


Starters: ILB Perry Riley, ILB Keenan Robinson, OLB Brian Orakpo, OLB Ryan Kerrigan
Backups: ILB Daryl Sharpton, OLB Trent Murphy [R], OLB Adam Hayward, OLB Brandon Jenkins, OLB Rob Jackson, OLB Adrian Robinson, ILB Akeem Jordan, ILB Will Compton, ILB Jeremy Kimbrough

Starting LBs: After 16 seasons, sure-fire Hall of Famer London Fletcher is finally hanging up his cleats. Many expected the Redskins to address the vacant hole left my Baker's retirement via the draft or through the signing of a top ILB free agent. However, neither of those scenarios played out. Instead, the Redskins opted to re-sign Perry Riley who will play an every down role and could put up sizable numbers given the lack of tackle competition around him. Additionally, Keenan Robinson will play every down and is projecting to have sneaky value if he can stay healthy. Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan are both locked in at the outside linebacker positions and form one of the stronger pass-rushing tandems in the league.

Backup LBs: Many draft pundits were surprised when the Redskins selected DE/OLB Trent Murphy with their first pick given they had much more dire needs at other positions. On the flip side, Murphy will get a chance to learn the position from a player in Ryan Kerrigan who is of a similar scouting report and will give Washington some added creativity/options in putting pressure on the quarterback. Newly-signed Akeem Jordan and Daryl Sharpton will battle for reserve snaps behind Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson.

Defensive Backs

Starters: CB DeAngelo Hall, CB David Amerson, SS Brandon Meriweather, FS Ryan Clark
Backups: CB Tracy Porter, CB E.J. Biggers, CB Bashaud Breeland [R], CB Chase Minnifield, CB Richard Crawford, Peyton Thompson, FS Phillip Thomas, FS Bacarri Rambo, SS Tanard Jackson, SS Jose Gumbs, FS Trent Robinson, S Akeem Davis

Starting DBs: The Redskins did make a few off-season moves in an attempt to shore up the starting lines of their 20th ranked pass defense. They re-signed DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather and added Tracy Porter and Ryan Clark via free agency. Despite heading into his 11th Pro season, Hall had arguably his best season in 2013. With his ascension into a starting role, much will be expected of David Amerson in his sophomore campaign. Coming off an uneven rookie season in which he showed improvement at the tail end of the year, Amerson will have to make more plays on the ball to cement his role as a starter. Safety is the position that many feel the Redskins haven’t done enough to improve. Brandon Meriweather was average at best last season, and misses far too many tackles to be other thing other than a short-term solution at the position (plus he has a knack for getting suspended). As for newly-signed Ryan Clark, he will turn 35 during this season, and isn't playing at the level he once was in his younger days. His experience and leadership skills are valuable assets for a back end that was continuously plagued by mental errors last season, however. All this said, neither Clark or Meriweather is particular good in coverage, so safety is likely to remain a problem spot for the foreseeable future.

Backup DBs: Washington was able to land Clemson cornerback product Bashaud Breeland in the 4th round of this year's draft. Adept in press coverage, Breeland's ability to match opposing receivers and tackle in the open field makes him a viable option to replace the team's current nickel corner Tracy Porter by the end of the season. The Redskins still remain high on Philip Thomas despite the fact he has yet to play a down of regular season football. At this point, it's hard to assume he can be a reliable player for the team in the long-term. Tanard Jackson will be coming back from suspension but he's also an extremely unreliable contributor given the fact he's been out football for two years. Bacarri Rambo saw starter snaps after numerous injuries and suspensions befell the Redskins secondary last year; however, he was benched shortly thereafter and seems relegated to a reserve role now.

Last modified: 2015-05-10 22:04:53