In 2009, the Tampa Bay Bucs finished the season with a 4-12 record. They held the third pick in the 2010 NFL draft; not really an accomplishment to be proud of. With that third pick, they selected All-American defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. Now this pick really has nothing to do with the 2012 Washington Redskins, but what was to follow could be a pillar on which our franchise could rest its hope for the 2012 season.Tampa Bay entered the 2010 season with second year quarterback Josh Freeman under center, and the former 17th overall pick of the 2009 NFL draft did not disappoint. He threw for 3451 yards and 25 touchdowns, with only six interceptions. Freeman boasted a 61 percent completion percentage, and averaged nearly 12 yards per completion. He added 364 yards rushing on 33 attempts.
Almost as impressive was what the Tampa offense accomplished with very little playmakers around Freeman. Their leading rusher was LeGarrette Blount, an undrafted rookie from Oregon, who carried 201 times for 1007 yards and six touchdowns. His 5.0 yards per carry average was among the league leaders for running backs with over 200 carries.
The Bucs leading receiever was fourth round rookie Mike Williams out of Syracuse, who had 65 receptions for 964 yards and 11 touchdowns. Fellow second round rookie Arrelious Benn added 25 receptions, for 395 yards and two touchdowns. Veteran tight end Kellen Winslow chipped in 66 receptions, for 730 yards and five touchdowns.
Tampa's offensive line consisted of third year left tackle Donald Penn, rookie left guard Ted Larsen, second year center Jeremy Zuttah, the stud four year vet Davin Joseph at right guard, and second year right tackle James Lee(who had nine starts, and is now a Washing Redskin).
The Tampa Bay defense started two rookies in McCoy, and free safety Cody Grimm. They boasted an experienced corner back duo in Barber and Talib, but the strength of this defense was in the linebacker corps, where they had three solid starters in Geno Hayes, Barret Ruud, and Quincy Black. The defense was ninth in the league in points allowed(19.9/game), and fifth in takeaway/giveaway differential at +9.
Does this blueprint look familiar?................Well it should.
The Washington Redskins are coming off a 4-12 season that saw them rank near the bottom of the NFL in points per game. They will be trotting out a rookie quarterback in Robert Griffin III (the second pick in the 2012 draft out of baylor), and second year, fourth round running back Roy Helu. Their receiving corp will be lead by two free agents(Garcon and Morgan), and second year wideout Leonard Hankerson(a third round draft pick in 2011). Just like Tampa Bay, the Redskins will rely on their veteran playmaking tight end Fred Davis. The offensive line will have third year left tackle Trent Williams, center/guard Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Jammal Brown, and possibly one rookie. This can be looked at as a solid group with some potential, but certainly not a line made up of all-pros(sound a little like the 2010 Bucs?).
The strength of our defense should be our linebacking corps, where we have two of the best young outside linebackers in the game(Orakpo and Kerrigan). Our middle backers are solid, especially with the re-signing of pro bowler London Fletcher. We have two veteran corners, and a mix of youth and experience at safety. The unit as a whole should be very strong if they remain healthy.
Now, I don't know if a seven game turnaround in 2012 will take the east, but it would most likely earn the Skins a playoff birth, and set up the makings for a drastic turnaround that would set this team on the path to respectability.
Here's hoping the 2012 Washington Redskins follow the path of the 2010 Tampa Bay Bucs. Let's just hope we remain at that level once we get there.