Before the start of the 2010 NFL season, Washington Redskins’ owner Daniel M. Snyder hired Mike Shanahan to become the Redskins’ next head coach. Shanahan brought a pedigree of success with him, considering his two Super Bowl rings as the head coach of the Denver Broncos. Of course, during that time, he had Hall of Fame quarterback John Elway anchoring the offense. Elway’s immense talents contributed greatly to Shanahan’s personal success.
Shanahan’s early tenure in Washington found him searching for the same magic at quarterback that Elway provided in Denver. The Donovan McNabb experiment failed in 2010. The quarterback platoon of Rex Grossman and John Beck was beyond disastrous in 2011. Enter Robert Griffin III, whom the Redskins sacrificed a bevy of draft pick to obtain in 2012. Griffin III didn’t disappoint, winning the 2012 NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, as well as guiding the Redskins to their first NFC East title since 1999.
There’s no question the Redskins made great strides in Year Three of Shanahan’s five year rebuilding plan. Rabid Redskins’ fans now expect Year Four to consist of a deep playoff run. To that I say, not so fast. Washington still has a myriad of questions they need to address before the 2013 season begins.
Griffin III tore his right ACL in 2012 against the Baltimore Ravens. He appears to be ahead of schedule rehabilitating his injury. However, there’s no telling if Griffin III can perform at the high level he attained before the injury. If he’s not the dynamic RG3, the multidimensional threat that opposing defenses much account for, Washington will be lucky to win eight games in 2013.
Running back Alfred Morris was a real find for Washington in 2012, finishing second in the NFL in rushing yards with 1,615. It could be argued that he could have been NFL Rookie of the Year, considering he was a sixth round selection in 2012. Can Morris duplicate his rookie season with another stellar season carrying the football? Opposing defenses will be gearing up to stop Morris with eight man fronts, so it’ll be interesting to see how effective he’ll be.
The Redskins’ wide receiver corps is average at best. Pierre Garcon was hampered by a right foot injury that took away the efficiency Washington thought it was getting when they signed him before the 2012 season. After Garcon, the Redskins’ most reliable receiver is Santana Moss. That’s not necessarily a good thing, considering that Moss is 33 years old, with his playmaking days behind him. Tight end Fred Davis is coming off an Achilles injury that ended his 2012 season prematurely. Expecting him to start 2013 as the second coming of the Atlanta Falcons’ tight end Tony Gonzalez in his prime is asking a lot of Davis.
Washington’s defense welcomes the return of linebacker Brian Orakpo, defensive end Adam Carriker, as well as safeties Brandon Meriweather and Tanard Jackson. Each was a projected starter in 2012, but missed considerable time because of injuries, and in Jackson’s case, suspension. It can’t be assumed that inserting Orakpo, Carriker, Meriweather, and Jackson into the starting defense makes the unit better. However, considering that Washington ranked 28th in total defense in 2012, the unit can’t get much worse.
It remains to be seen if Year Four of the Shanahan era yields great improvement, or if it will yield another season of gloom and doom. Nevertheless, the 2013 Washington Redskins are a mix of uncertainty and excitement. Now Redskins’ fans can sit back, relax, and enjoy the ride.