What a year it has been. Heading into 2011, Redskins fans were dealing with questions about whether John Beck or Rex Grossman will start in week one. Radio talk shows were all about the quarterback competition between a semi-has-been and a never-was. We as fans, were predicting seven, eight, even nine wins with these guys at the trigger. What the hell were we thinking?
Maybe it’s the eternal optimist in us all or the “rose colored glasses” (as Chris Russell from ESPN980 referred to several times over training camp) that we were all wearing last year. This year, though, we have actual reason for optimism. I know, you’ve heard it all before. I’ve come up with five significant reasons why the Redskins will finish at or above .500 in 2012 and here they are.
5. John Beck is no longer a part of the team.
The Washington Redskins had some trouble on offense in 2011, most of it was a result of the not-so-great eight throwing the ball at players in different jerseys. The one positive that did come from Rex being in the game was that the offense tended to move. One thing we can say about John Beck is that he couldn’t get the Redskins offense into the endzone against DeMatha high school on a neutral field. John Beck was ultimately the reason for three losses last year. I say that purely by him not being on roster, the Redskins can take at least one loss and convert that into a victory in 2012. That brings us to a 6-10 record in 2012 or a better off 5-11.
4. Rex Grossman will literally only handle the football in practice.
I’m sure that the former Gator will find a way to throw interceptions against the scout team and that’s perfectly fine. With Robert Griffin III and even Kirk Cousins potentially ahead of Grossman on the depth chart, he’s nothing more than an insurance policy and likely won’t touch a football during the regular season. No Grossman means (hopefully) less turnovers, and one more win- at least. Let’s also remember how many times the Redskins defense took the field at their own 35 because Grossman decided it was a good time to wing it. With a stable QB that can make plays, the defense may be able to get off the field and catch their breath every once in a while. The Redskins can count on at least 7-9 with Grossman holding a clipboard.
3. The defense is only going to get better.
Okay, this statement could actually be totally inaccurate with a few bad breaks in training camp and the preseason, but they’ve shown significant improvement from year one to year two in the 3-4 scheme under Jim Haslett. The team essentially gets an additional draft pick this year in defensive end Jarvis Jenkins, who missed all of 2011 with a torn ligament in his knee. Jenkins will add to an already ferocious front seven and likely provide more pressure on opposing quarterbacks. The Redskins have also added to their defense by subtracting LaRon Landry and O.J. Atogwe. Whether or not their replacements suffice will depend a lot on the pressure that the front seven gets this season. I say they get there and get there often. The Redskins could be 8-8 off the strength of Jenkins’ addition alone.
2. The weapons at the quarterback’s disposal have the potential to be significantly greater than last year.
This will be Roy Helu’s second year and likely his first chance to see significant touches early in the season. Evan Royster and Tim Hightower also did fairly well last season. Another year for Royster to mature and Hightower to stay healthy. The real change on this 2012 roster will be at wide receiver. The Redskins have already signed Josh Morgan from San Francisco and Pierre Garcon from the Colts, couple that with Santana Moss running the slot and you’ve got a pretty decent corps or receivers to work with. There is also the potential for a better offensive line this season. All of the original starters from last year that are on the team are going to be healthy, with the exception of Jamal Brown whose hip is still apparently questionable at this point. The Redskins also added two guards and a tackle via the draft last month. Throw in the depth at tight end with former receiver Niles Paul converting to the position, Fred Davis starting and Chris Cooley waiting to get his spot back, and you’ve got a decent setup. Overall, the offense will ideally work much better with a significantly better conductor under center, which leads me to the number one reason why the Redskins will be .500 or better in 2012.
1. Robert Griffin III
Talk about a kid having the weight of an entire organization on their shoulder, sheesh. Even if Griffin is the worst thing since JaMarcus Russell, he’ll still be the face of the franchise for at least the next four years. Griffin has the size, at 6’2 3/8″ tall. He has the speed, with a sub 4.4 forty-yard dash. He has all of the physical tools and appears to be one of the brighter guys to come out in recent years. If RGIII can mentally grip the Redskins playbook with Kyle Shanahan and maintain possession of the ball, the team will win more more often than not. Simply by not turning that ball over the Redskins will become more successful in all phases of the game. With Rex behind center you could be sure that four or five passes were going to be in the “wish I could take that back” column. With Griffin you can be sure that he’ll make things happen on plays that would otherwise result in no gain or a loss in recent years past. Moving forward is what number ten does best and it’s what the Redskins will need him to do to get to a record of 8-8 or greater in 2012.
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