Now that I’ve (mostly) recovered from the Seattle game and had time to put RGIII’s injury in perspective, I’m ready to blog about the 2013 Redskins. If they want to stay on top in the NFC East, they’ll need to shore up several deficiencies.
A small handful of especially important target areas come to mind. While the offensive line was, overall, a little better than expected this year—Pro Football Focus ranked them 16th—the staff was unable to coach consistently adequate right tackle play out of Polumbus or any alternative. Improved depth at corner will be imperative to prevent hobos like DJ Johnson from sabotaging close games. The tight end group needs reexamination, and a stable option must be identified at both kickoff and punt returner if field position is to be taken as seriously as it should.
Above all else, though, it is my contention that an upgrade of the safety positions—strong and free, top to bottom—is of primary importance, lest Madieu Williams continue to steal our joy. Allow me to plead a two-pronged case…
- The Redskins’ current safety corps is terrible. Meriweather is an injury concern and has been inconsistent his entire career; Williams is atrocious; Doughty and Pugh are low-ceiling backups; Gomes can’t be healthy and good for consecutive games; Bernstine is basically a late-round rookie coming off reconstruction; and Jackson can’t even set foot inside the Park until September. This unit is a tire fire.
- The safety position—and I’m blurring strong vs. free because I believe they are used almost interchangeably in Haslett’s 3-4—is an increasingly important one in today’s NFL due to the sophistication of passing offenses, and also one from which a true “impact player” can very profoundly influence a given defense’s performance against both the run and pass. For evidence, hearken back to Meriweather’s dynamic first half against Philly in Week 11 (prior to injury), which not only kick-started a blowout victory but may have altered the very course of the season.
I feel that a quality safety can lift an entire defense and a weak one can torpedo it. This position represents Shanny’s best single target for improving the team instantly and substantially. Fortunately, talented and relatively affordable young safeties may be available to the Redskins via both free agency and the draft.
The prize FA will be 26-year-old Jairus Byrd, unless Buffalo tags him. Total stud. Would be a huge get, though he won’t come cheap. I’ve watched him a few times and think he’d be worth a sizable investment, even if it’s the only one Bruce can finagle. After Byrd I like William Moore (ATL; 27) or maybe Kenny Phillips (NYG; 26).
In April there could be a handful of Week 1 starters available when the Redskins draft in the 2nd or 3rd. Suitable fits may include Phillip Thomas (Fresno State), Tony Jefferson (Oklahoma), Bacarri Rambo (Georgia), or my personal faves: DJ Swearinger (South Carolina) and Jonathan Cyprien (Florida Int’l).
Really, this level of the defense is so important and the Redskins are so weak here that I’d be in favor of drafting one and buying another. The impact for 2013 would be dramatic.
Make it happen, Shan Man!