Redskins Offense Projections: Preseason Week Two Edition
With the first preseason game behind us, time for a projection (guess) of how the offense will look for the opener.
Obviously, Robert Griffin III is targeting the season opener against Philadelphia and anything less would be a major disappointment. Kirk Cousins is clearly the backup, but can he ever live up to the hype? Some suggest the club shouldn’t trade him for a number one pick… or even two! Lets just hope that he doesn’t have to play much if getting past the first weekend of the playoffs is the goal. Ever since the team signed Pat White, I have been intrigued by the possibility of him as the third QB on the roster. White’s performance on Thursday at Tennessee hasn’t changed my feelings on this. I understand the reasoning for hanging on to Rex Grossman, but his skill set is so much different that RG3′s that the entire offense would have to be altered if he was forced into action. White is a work in progress, but he certainly is capable of running a full read option attack. Conclusion: Keep three quarterbacks with Pat White as the number three.
Darrel Young is the only choice and the Redskins are one of just a few teams in the NFL that even use the position. A converted linebacker, Young figures to improve and have a growing role in the offense. Ideally, if the team continues to utilize this position, a player that can also play running back would be a better use of the roster spot. A player like Peyton Hills (now with Tampa) comes to mind in a potential dual role.
Running Back (3)
Given the heavy workload that Alfred Morris endured as a rookie and the pounding he figures to take this season, save the “bullets” and continue to limit his carries for the remainder of the preseason. Morris’ success last season was greatly enhanced by the threat of Griffin keeping the ball. With RG3 certain to run less this season, how will this impact Morris’ production? It certainly won’t help as defenses won’t have to allocate as many resources to retain Griffin on the keeper. On the other hand, the return of Roy Helu Jr. will help Morris, not only to spell him, but the added threat on the edge that Helu provides. Thinking back to Brandon Banks as the “speed option” on occasion last season reflects on how much Helu was missed. Morris’ durability last season was a blessing, but you certainly can’t count on that to continue, year in and year out. Evan Royster is the best option to step into the Morris role in case of injury and for that reason, he needs a spot on the roster. I felt the Chris Thompson selection was a reach and may have been insurance for Helu’s recovery more than anything. Given Thompson’s injury history, he may be a candidate to “redshirt” on injured reserve this season. Depending on what Jawan Jamison shows the rest of the month, he could end up on the practice squad. Conclusion: Keep three RB’s, Morris, Helu and Royster.
Wide Receiver (6)
As the won-loss record when he played last season reflects, Pierre Garcon may be the second most important piece of the Redskins offense in 2013. Garcon learned a lot from two future Hall of Fame wide outs in Indianapolis and it certainly showed as he assumed the role of lead receiver in the Washington air attack. The Redskins have a history of failed draft choices at the position, lets hope Leonard Hankerson doesn’t join the list. Hankerson as the tools to be a very solid number two and his performance against the Titans is certainly promising. Santana Moss is aging gracefully and is an ideal slot receiver. I really like Aldrick Robinson is college and he was a nice find late in the draft. The team really wants him to succeed and he benefits from learning from Moss. Joshua Morgan is steady, but not a game breaker and provides a “fall back” option if Hankerson and Robinson fail to continue developing or Moss hits the wall. That is a pretty solid five-man group, but will the team keep six or seven at the position? Veteran Donte Stallworth may have an edge for the sixth spot with Dezmon Briscoe a younger option. Special teams always plays a role when you get this far down the depth chart. Veteran Devery Henderson and Lance Lewis are also competing, another case of the veteran versus the big, young inexperienced talent. Conclusion: With four tight ends, the Skins cannot keep more than six. Five are obvious with Briscoe my preferred option for number six (despite his lack of special teams participation).
Tight End (4)
Of all the positions, with the possible exception of special teams, is there a more set group for the 53 man roster? When Fred Davis went down last season, we found out that Logan Paulsen can play and the Niles Paul experiment became permanent. Now Davis is back and a high draft pick was spent on Jordan Reed, giving the team four tight ends. By keeping only six receivers the Skins can keep four tight ends, especially since all but Paulsen can split out wide and become an additional receiver. Reed is insurance (and duplication) of Davis, Paulsen is the blocker and Paul is becoming a leader on “teams”. Conclusion: This is the easiest position to call with the four solid and in the fold on the season opening roster.
Offensive Tackle (4)
Trent Williams is the leader and most important member of the offensive line. Sorry for stating the obvious, but Williams (if healthy) should have many Pro Bowl seasons ahead of him in Burgundy and Gold. I am content with Tyler Polumbus at right tackle, certainly much more so that many folks. I know there are stats out there that indicate he is a major liability, but I simplify it to this… The team ran the ball very well, scored points and enjoyed success as a cohesive unit. Tony Pashos and Jeremy Trueblood were brought onboard about the same time that Polumbus return was still in doubt. Now that Polumbus is signed and secure, I would be surprised if either veteran is still on the roster on Monday night against the Eagles in September. Tom Compton appears to be grooming for the backup job at left tackle. Slowly developing him is a good plan, but obviously having him have to step in and protect Griffin’s blind side on a long term basis is a scary prospect at this early juncture in his career. I am bullish on undrafted free agent Xavier Nixon and feel exposing him on the practice squad would be a bad idea. Nixon is the type of college player that gets better at the next level. When challenge by top competition at Florida- he excelled, it was against the “cupcakes” on the Gators schedule where he became bored. Obviously, everything for Nixon from this point forward is a challenge- night in and night out. Conclusion: Williams and Polumbus are locks and starters this Fall. Compton needs to continue to improve but should be safe. If the team wants to keep Nixon (and they should) don’t give every NFL team a chance to grab him by attempting to stash him on the practice squad. Keep both Nixon and Compton.
Interior Line (5) Hurt injured
Will Montgomery remains one of the most underrated interior lineman in the NFC. The guards return with Chris Chester and Kory Lichtensteiger, like Montgomery, in their prime. Josh LeRibeus was taken high enough in the draft where he should be at least pushing for a starting job by now. LeRibeus has injury concerns and barring an injury again to Lichtensteiger is far from starting. The versatility Josh brings helps, as he can play both guard and center, as can the starters in the interior. Adam Gettis also has the ability to contribute at both guard and center and should be taking another step in his development. Maurice Hurt has been an invaluable reserve for the team, especially with experience playing both guard and tackle. Kevin Matthews was a nice addition and a natural center, but unfortunately will be a victim of the numbers game. Conclusion: To help us avoid making a decision here, we table Hurt due to injury concerns. Like tackle, I like the idea of young developing backups with LeRibeus and Gattis along with the three starters.
Special Teams (3)
Kai Forbath was about as automatic as a kicker can get last season. Given the revolving door we have seen at the position over the past dozen years or so, Forbath showed just how important a kicker can be. Sav Rocca is hitting 40 soon, had injuries last season and performance suffered. I am surprised the team didn’t bring in someone to not only compete, but to really make a run at the job. This figures to be Rocca’s last run. The team loves Nick Sundberg and he is their best long snapper since Trevor Matich. Conclusion: Forbath, Rocca and Sundberg run it back again in 2013.
Tom Blaz is a co-owner of the DC Sports Report and The Recruiting Eagle, which focus on Athletics at Auburn University. You may follow Tom on twitter at #RecruitingEagle