2012 Record: 10-6; 1st Place
2013 Prediction: 7-9
Confidence in Pick: 25%
Pickups: EJ Biggers, Pat White
Reasons for Optimism:
RG3 – He took the league by storm in 2012 and looked like anything but a rookie. He is definitely one of the most exciting players in the NFL and if healthy, could lead this team back to the playoffs. He has the rare combination of running ability and great passing accuracy which makes playing against him so difficult.
Alfred Morris – No team got more production in 2012 from two rookies than Washington. Morris proved to be a legit NFL RB (1,613 yards and 13 TDs) and Shannahan has proven that when he has a stud RB, he can win games.
Reasons to be Cautious:
Mike Shannahan – While he does have 2 Super Bowls rings, those came with John Elway at QB and Terrell Davis at RB. In his 15 seasons without Elway as his QB, Shannahan has averaged 8.5 wins per year (120-108). Hardly great numbers. More concerning has to be how often his scheme put RG3 in harm’s way in 2012. RG3 is not a big guy (6’2” 217 lbs) and cannot continue to take the hits he took in 2012. He was lucky to make it as long as he did before getting injured. I still remember when the Redskins played the Bengals, I thought RG3 may have been killed 3 different times throughout that game. This team’s success is tied directly to RG3 and if he isn’t healthy, this team doesn’t stand a chance.
RG3 – Along with the health concerns, I also question his decision-making. Regardless of the scheme, RG3 did a fair amount of putting himself in harm’s way in 2012 as well. Then you have the odd and immature preseason squabble in the media regarding Shannahan’s decision not to play him. There seems to be either a lack of understanding, lack of communication, or lack of respect (or all of the above) between Shannahan and RG3. Either way, not a good thing to have between coach and QB. RG3 needs to realize his value to this team and not put himself in harm’s way. Right now, he doesn’t seem to understand that, and that is an issue.
Lack of WRs – I know Garcon and RG3 seemed to have a decent connection in 2012, but I think the Redskins have one of the weakest receiving corps in all of the NFL (Garcon, Hankerson, Moss). The leading receiver on the Redskins (Garcon) had 633 yards. The weak receiving corps will cause RG3 to take off and run more often and hence be hit more often. Exactly what the Redskins don’t want.
Secondary – Any secondary that feels the need to start DeAngelo Hall is in trouble. Especially if that secondary will be tasked with covering the likes of Bryant, Miles, Witten, Cruz and Nicks. They better reach the QB, because if not, receivers are likely to be running open in this secondary.
I think 2012 was a perfect storm for the Redskins. The Redskins needed breakout years from RG3 and Morris, combined with the Giants and Cowboys underperforming just to get to 10-6. I don’t see all of those stars aligning again in 2013. I think 7 wins is generous for this team in 2013.