The Washington Redskins had a wonderful season in 2012. The Redskins were the latest franchise to go from “worst to first,” winning their first NFC East title since 1999. The main reason for this resurgence was the marvelous rookie seasons of quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris.
It wouldn’t be unreasonable to believe that Washington could not only duplicate their 2012 success in 2013, but to have a deep playoff run. The NFL currently trends towards offensive proficiency. Griffin III was named 2012 Offensive Rookie of the Year. Morris finished his rookie campaign second in the NFL in rushing yardage. That qualifies for offensive proficiency.
However, it was on the defensive side of the ball where the Redskins were deficient. In their defense (no pun intended), the team lost outside linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker and safety Brandon Meriweather to injury. The Redskins lost safety Tanard Jackson for 2012 as sanction for violating the league’s substance abuse policy. It’s hard to expect Washington’s defense to exhibit proficient pass defense after losing their top pass rusher in Orakpo as well as starting safeties Meriweather and Jackson.
It can be reasoned that Orakpo, Carriker and Meriweather are working feverishly to return to the field in 2013. Orakpo provides efficient pass rushing ability at outside linebacker as his 28.5 sacks in his three full seasons can attest. Carriker, while not spectacular, provides stability at defensive end. Meriweather, a free agent acquisition by Washington in 2012, provided efficiency in his only 2012 appearance. He recorded four tackles and an interception during the Redskins’ 31-6 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles. It was Washington’s most dominant defensive performance of the season.
Jackson, another Redskins free agent acquisition, provides big play ability. He recorded five forced fumbles and 10 interceptions during his five-year tenure with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. He also returned two of those interceptions for touchdowns. Jackson will be eligible to return to the Redskins before the start of the 2013 season. Washington expects him to provide the same spark for a secondary that was porous at times.
The Redskins discovered that they have a solid reserve at linebacker in Rob Jackson. He did an excellent job filling Orakpo’s position, recording 4.5 sacks and four interceptions. Jackson played a pivotal role during the Redskins’ seven-game winning streak, converting key turnovers like his interception against the Cleveland Browns in 2012. The Redskins scored on the ensuing drive to capture a lead they would never relinquish.
If Washington can successfully incorporate Orakpo, Carriker, Meriweather and Jackson into the defensive unit in 2013, improvement could be forthcoming for Washington.