Recent history has been unkind to the Washington Redskins. They had been perennial NFC East doormats until 2012, when they captured their first divisional title since 1999. The NFL’s latest worst to first turnaround can be attributed to a pair of rookies, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris. They anchored a prolific Redskins’ offense that carried Washington to the 2012 playoffs, riding the wave of a seven game winning streak. The Redskins’ average of 27 points per game in 2012 offers further proof of the offense’s efficiency.
Although the Redskins were defeated by the Seattle Seahawks in an NFC Wild Card game 24-14, there’s reason for optimism in Washington. Griffin III seems to be recovering nicely from the torn right ACL that marred his 2012 rookie season. Morris returns to lead the Redskins’ rushing attack, which finished first in the NFL in rushing yardage in 2012. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon, acquired before the 2012 season to become the Redskins’ main receiver, is looking to rebound from a right foot injury that limited him in his first season in Washington. The Redskins ranked fifth in the NFL in total offense last season, so fans can only imagine how prolific the unit would have been if Griffin III and Garcon played in all 16 games in 2012.
Here’s a thought that I never thought I would express in print: the Washington Redskins can be a Super Bowl contender in 2013 due to their prolific offense. However, Washington needs to solidify a defense that consistently gave up big plays last season. The return of outside linebacker Brian Orakpo (above) from injury solidifies the Redskins’ pass rush. Linebackers London Fletcher and Ryan Kerrigan continue to provide steady play and leadership, which keeps Washington competitive in most of their games
The return of strong safety Brandon Meriweather provides big play ability that the secondary could have used last season. To remedy the lack of big plays from the secondary, Washington used three of their 2013 draft picks on David Amerson, Phillip Thomas, and Bacarri Rambo. Amerson is a solid tackler at the cornerback position, while Thomas and Rambo provide big plays at strong and free safety, respectively, by snaring interceptions when the opportunity arises.
The Redskins finished 28th in total defense in 2012. Expecting this unit to experience an improvement to becoming a top ten defense is a lot to ask. Washington hopes the return of Orakpo, Meriweather, defensive end Adam Carriker, as well as the integration of the aforementioned rookie defenders, will lead to some modest improvement in the Redskins’ defensive ranking. If that occurs, the Washington Redskins have as good a chance as other NFC teams to represent the conference in Super Bowl XLVIII.