Redskins Midseason Report Card: Offense & Coaches

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Updated: November 6, 2013
Report Card

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The Redskins have played eight games, half the regular season. While the first three games were a complete disaster, the team seems to have righted the ship a bit in the last five weeks. Let’s take a look at how each position — and the major players at each position — have done so far this season. We will do the defense and special teams in part two of this feature, but we start today with the offense and coaches.

POSITION ANALYSIS GRADE
QB Will the real Robert Griffin III please stand up. He’s up, he’s down. You never know what to expect from him one week to another. He had the worst game of his pro career two weeks ago in Denver and then came back last Sunday with, arguably, the best passing day of his 2013 season. He has accuracy issues and that huge knee brace is clearly affecting his mobility, but the offense has looked much better in 3 of the last 5 weeks. That’s an improvement over the first 3 disastrous weeks of the season. What the Redskins need right now is more consistency from RG3, something he provided in abundance in his rookie season. An ironclad commitment to running the ball would open up his passing lanes and help Griffin a lot.  C+
RB Speaking of the running game, it’s working great — when it is used. Alfred Morris leads the NFL in yards per carry and he has as good an argument as anyone for being the best running back in the league this year. The problem is RG3 and the defense combined to put the team in big holes the first month of the season and the running game was abandoned. In addition, offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan sometimes loses interest in running the ball, a problem many offensive coordinators have. Many of them sometimes seem more interested in proving how clever they are than in just running plays that win games. Hopefully, last Sunday’s success with the running game will convince the Shanahans to stick with it because Morris has, if anything, improved as a runner since his rookie year. Nobody in the league leads his blockers as well as he does. Roy Helu has been an effective complementary back and Darrel Young is one of the top three fullbacks in the game.  A
TE Fred Davis‘ career has collapsed into itself, a mess of missed opportunities, drug abuse and poorly-timed catnaps at the workplace. The Redskins have kept him inactive three straight weeks and it looks like the only way he gets back on the field is if Jordan Reed suffers an injury. Speaking of Reed, he’s been terrific, when  used. His blocking, thought to be a major impediment to him playing a lot as a rookie, has been been far better than expected, though hardly ideal. Reed has good hands, superior route-running skill, a huge catch radius and the athleticism to get open against almost all linebackers and safeties. When Kyle Shanahan remembers Reed is on the field, the offense is far more dangerous. Logan Paulsen is doing well as a blocker, but Niles Paul is almost exclusively a special teams player. Position is graded down because Davis is a real talent and it is all going to waste. Having Davis and Reed on the field together would be a matchup nightmare for defenses.  B-
WR Well, Pierre Garcon is pretty good. He had the best game of his career last Sunday and if he and RG3 aren’t the best of buddies, at least they know how to make big plays happen together. He’s on pace to break Art Monk’s franchise record for receptions in a season and is 4th in the NFL in catches and 10th in yards. Teams have taken away Garcon’s deep game so he’s turning into a monster of the midrange reception and then breaking it for extra yards. The problem at this position is that he’s all there is. Leonard Hankerson occasionally looks like a real #2 wideout, but usually he does not. Joshua Morgan is a good blocker and a bad kick returner and for that he’s being paid $6 million. Aldrick Robinson is at least as likely to drop the ball as catch it. I can’t believe Nick Williams doesn’t deserve a look off the practice squad. If not for Garcon, this position would get a failing grade.  C
OL Chris Chester has had a terrible season until last Sunday and Will Montgomery does not look like one of the three best centers in the NFL, as he did for most of last year. However, Tyler Polumbus looks significantly improved over 2012, as does a now-healthy Kory Lichtensteiger. Trent Williams is easily the team’s best offensive lineman and having another superb season. There was some overblown talk in some media circles about Williams having a down season, but that’s nonsense. He’s playing very, very well. The fact is, the Redskins are first in the NFL in rushing yards per carry [5.0] and 6th-best in preventing sacks. Some of the credit for that latter stat belongs to RG3‘s legs, but overall the line has done well protecting him, apart from one bad performance in Denver.  B
COACHES Special Teams coach Keith Burns is under fire because his guys are a mess every week. If it isn’t a blocked punt it is two blocked field goals. Or a kickoff return for a touchdown. Or a punt return for a touchdown. Or a fake punt. Or the special teams coach not getting out of the way of the officials. A few road bumps were to be expected with a new coach and the loss of Lorenzo Alexander, but this is ridiculous. Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan usually calls a pretty good game, but he needs to stay aware of his running backs and rookie tight end. Defensive Coordinator Jim Haslett clearly wasn’t ready for the Eagles offense, but he’s been steadier in recent week. Mike Shanahan has yet to prove he deserves a contract extension.  C-