The Washington Redskins are one year removed from winning the NFC East and making the postseason. In order to put themselves in position to succeed they traded multiple early draft picks to get Robert Griffin III with the No. 2 overall pick in 2012. The move paid early dividends, but it also may have compromised the ability of the Redskins to build young talent around him.
With very few additions to the team, Washington came into 2013 with almost their entire roster intact. The biggest difference is that Griffin tore his ACL in the playoffs and was unable to play in the preseason. His numbers have taken a dramatic hit and caused the Redskins to fall to 3-8 after their loss to the San Francisco 49ers. They are three games out of the division lead with only five to play and four games out of the final Wild Card spot.
With no first round pick in 2013 Washington will need to find a way to acquire draft picks to start rebuilding around young talent. Other than Griffin and Alfred Morris there are no real trade-able assets on the Redskins. However, with Kirk Cousins and Roy Helu as backups to those two Pro Bowlers, Washington should play them and see if they can build up trade value.
The worst thing that could happen to Washington is for Griffin to hurt his knee again playing in meaningless December games. They should rest RGIII for the remainder of the regular season and see if Cousins can do for them what Matt Cassel did for the New England Patriots. When they drafted Cousins he was an insurance policy in case something happened to Griffin. Something did happen to Griffin and he hasn’t really been able to play. When he has played he hasn’t looked as good as the Redskins has hoped, but that could change with him getting five starts and five weeks practicing with the first team.
Helu, on the other hand, has had significant playing time and has performed well. He has 50 carries for 236 yards which is a little under five yards per carry with four touchdowns. He also has caught 21 passes for 192 yards and has not lost a fumble. In fact in his three NFL seasons, he has a total of 1,494 yards and has only lost one fumble. Washington should allow him to get 15-20 touches per game and rest Morris for next season.
Between these two players they might be able to get a couple of mid-round draft picks and use those to acquire some better skill players. On Monday Night against San Francisco, Washington was held to only six points, and it was the first time in Griffin’s college and NFL career that he was unable to lead his team on a TD drive. If Monday night proved anything it is that the Redskins as is cannot succeed in the NFL. Last year was a fluke and they need to start rebuilding around Griffin and without head coach Mike Shanahan. They are not in the same league as the 49ers and will continue to struggle unless changes are made starting now.