Five Unheralded Washington Redskins
Here are the Washington Redskins' unsung 2012 heroes.
The 2012 NFL season represents a season of improvement for the Washington Redskins, who can finish no better than 10—6. On the flipside, the Redskins can finish no worse that 7-9. In 2011, Washington finished the season with a 5-11 record. Considering the debacle Redskins’ fans suffered through that season, it’s easy to notice the team’s improvement.
The reasons for Washington’s resurgence are obvious. Rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III is exactly the man the Redskins needed to resuscitate this once proud franchise. Rookie running back Alfred Morris has also contributed greatly to Washington’s success, ranking third in the NFL in rushing yardage.
I’m not going to focus on the exploits of Griffin III and Morris. There’s plenty of time for that. However, there are five unheralded Washington Redskins who have contributed greatly to the team’s success over the 2012 season. Some of their contributions may not stand out in the box score as highlight reel material. But that doesn’t mean their contributions are any less important than anything done by Griffin III or Morris.
It may be laughable to some that the Redskins could be putting together something special in 2012. In the past two seasons, the New York Giants and Green Bay Packers played their best football late in the season. Each overcame slow starts at the beginning of the season, got hot at the right time, and turned that momentum into respective Super Bowl titles.
It remains to be seen if Washington realizes a Super Bowl title in 2012.. Nevertheless, Redskins’ fans have hope, and it’s not only because of Griffin III and Morris. With that said, here are the five unheralded Washington Redskins:
Many Redskins’ fans forgot about the placekicking carousel the team employed earlier in the season. Washington had a litany of kickers that were unable to make even the most reasonably distanced field goals. It’s the type of issue that contributes to a losing culture.
Most fans have never heard of Washington placekicker Kai Forbath. That’s a good thing, because it means he’s doing his job. Every team in the NFL needs a reliable placekicker to convert field goals when the offense stalls. So far, Forbath has exhibited reliability, connecting on all 15 of his field goal attempts to start his NFL career. Redskins’ fans hope Forbath continues his solid placekicking, eliminating the team’s placekicking carousel for good.
Washington Redskins’ outside linebacker Brian Orakpo was lost for the season against the St. Louis Rams in Week Two. Orakpo was a pass rushing specialist that was one of the most talented players on the defense. It would be difficult, if not impossible, to adequately replace Orakpo’s production
Linebacker Rob Jackson took Orakpo’s place at outside linebacker, and has put together a decent season. Primarily a special teams player, Jackson has filled in admirably as Orakpo's replacement in the starting lineup. He has recorded 4.5 sacks and three interceptions in 2012. He also has a knack for making big plays, forcing turnovers in consecutive games against the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns that contributed greatly to victories over both teams.
If Orakpo returns in 2013, Jackson will be relegated to a reserve linebacker role. Nevertheless, he must be commended for his contributions in Orakpo’s absence. He must also be credited with the Redskins’ defensive resurgence.
Many eyebrows were raised when the Washington Redskins selected quarterback Kirk Cousins in the fourth round of the 2012 NFL draft. Griffin III was selected to be the franchise quarterback for the next decade at least. At worst, Cousins would be a backup quarterback with future trade value.
However, Cousins has seen playing time in the 2012 season because of injuries to Griffin III. His latest encounter was his first NFL start. After a rocky start, Cousins settled down to throw two touchdown passes, which helped lead Washington to a 38-21 Week 15 victory over the Cleveland Browns. This comes after Cousins relieved Griffin III and engineered a come from behind 31-28 Week 14 overtime victory over the Baltimore Ravens.
While everyone knows this team belongs to Griffin III, it’s comforting to know that Cousins can run the team effectively when he needs to.
Wide receiver Santana Moss is one of the most tenured Washington Redskins. He has provided many big plays over the years for Washington. Unfortunately, the NFL is trending towards younger, bigger, and faster wide receivers. The acquisition of wide receivers Pierre Garcon and Joshua Morgan before the 2012 season pushed Moss from his starting position to third on the receiving depth chart. It looked like Moss would have to be satisfied with his reduced role.
That hasn’t been the case, as Moss has figured prominently in Washington’s passing game in 2012. He leads the team in receiving yards with 525 and touchdowns with seven. He still has the speed to run deep routes with precision, considering that his longest catch so far in 2012 went for 77 yards.
At 33 years old, it’s uncertain how much longer Moss can produce at the wide receiver position. Nevertheless, he continues to play at a high level, and his contributions are a big reason for Washington’s success.
At 37 years old, Redskins’ linebacker and defensive captain London Fletcher continues to play at a high level. He currently leads the team in tackles with 64, and has a knack for coming up with big plays. He came up with a interception Week 14 against the Baltimore Ravens that ended a potential Ravens’ scoring drive. For good measure, Fletcher collected his second interception in as many weeks, this time against the Browns.
He has also played in 238 consecutive games, and was a member of the Super Bowl 35 St. Louis Rams’ championship team. His lifetime statistics of tackles, sacks, forced fumbles, and fumble recoveries are very comparable with another linebacker fans may have heard of. He plays for the Baltimore Ravens, and his name is Ray Lewis.
However, Fletcher has been named to only one Pro Bowl. This was after the 2011 season, and only to the second team. How Fletcher has gone this long without more Pro Bowl consideration is beyond me. If the aforementioned doesn’t prove how unheralded Fletcher is, then nothing will. Who knows, if Fletcher wins his second Super Bowl ring as a Redskin, he won't be unheralded anymore.