Could The Redskins Even Be Better In 2013?
With so many injuries to go along with inexperience, many figured that the Washington Redskins would not be in playoff contention in 2012. Thanks in large part to a pair of rookie fantasy football points machines—Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris—the Redskins won their first division title since 1999. Even as Griffin goes through off-season surgery and rehab, could the Redskins be healthier and better in 2013?
Most of Washington’s casualties in 2012 befell the defense, which allowed 24.3 points per game last season—the highest of any playoff team. In total yardage, they were among the five worst teams in the league. Their dynamic offense helped them overcome those struggles, but if they want to take a step towards a Super Bowl, they must get (and stay) healthy on defense.
The pass defense struggled the most, due initially to Brandon Meriweather’s early injury and then a season-long suspension for Tanard Jackson. The former could reclaim a starting strong safety spot as early as Week 1, while the latter may still be in the mix at free, pending progress of rookies Phillip Thomas and Bacarri Rambo. To further bolster the secondary in 2013, the Redskins brought back DeAngelo Hall and added rangy 25-year-old E.J. Biggers. They also hope to welcome back a healthy Chase Minnifield—an undrafted revelation in last year’s camp—as he returns from an ACL tear.
Washington will be healthier and stronger in the defensive front seven, too, as Adam Carriker bounces back from an early quad tear and stalwart Brian Orakpo gets over his second significant pectoral injury. The effective return of these two foundational contributors to the Redskins’ pass rush will be critical for a defensive unit built to function, as it is, around pressure and opportunism.
Of course, the biggest wildcard for the Redskins right now is the healthy return of Robert Griffin III. If he is forced to miss a substantial portion of the season, the team will have a tough time getting back to the playoffs. However, thanks to the defensive reinforcements described above, there should be less pressure on him to score in binges.
Washington made the playoffs despite long odds in 2012. If they have better fortune health-wise, it could be an even better season in 2013.