To be(a contender) or not to be............that is the question!
Coming off a 10-6 season, a division championship, and many post-season awards for our players, including ROY for the great RG3, the question becomes, have the Redskins finally turned the corner, and planted themselves firmly in the discussion of "perennial contenders", or was 2012 a fluke?
I believe we have made the turn, but my rabid fandom, and 20-70 burgundy shaded glasses, may be clouding my view. Skeptics in the media may point to a strong division, a tough schedule, and an injured Griffin to justify a regression from last season. Others may cite missing pieces as a reason they feel the re-building process is still below ground. Any way you slice it, the points of contention can be made for either side.
When looking at the team as a whole, I see many key pieces to success already in place, but taking off my burgundy glasses for a moment, I can also see some areas for concern.
Offense line: Left tackle is set for the future with Pro Bowler Trent Williams firmly entrenched as one of the leagues best. Outside of Williams, many questions remain. Kory Lichtensteiger and Will Montgomery have had up-and-down seasons in the past, and neither are high-level starters. There is some promise in backups Josh LeRibeus and Adam Gettis, but for the most part, both men are unproven, and will need to step up their games to be considered the future at the position. Chris Chester played at a Pro Bowl level in 2012, and he doesn't seem to be showing any signs of decline, but he is into his 30's, and can not be considered a long-term solution. And then we get to right tackle. This is where things get dicey. The right tackle position has been in flux since Jon Jansen retired. The future doesn't seem to look any brighter at the moment with incumbent Tyler Polumbus, who at times acts as a mere road bump to pass-rushing defensive linemen, looking to have an edge on the starting gig heading into 2013. Tom Compton may have the most upside, but his progression will weigh heavily on how he handles a back-up roll at left tackle. An eventual move to right tackle may be in the cards, but he must first show the staff what they need to see in regards to his development before that idea is broached. Veterans Tony Pashos, and Jeremy Trueblood are fill-in players at best, and the undrafted rookie Nixon looks like an early practice squad candidate.
Wide receiver: Wide receiver woes have plagued the Redskins for years. In 2008, the team drafted Thomas and Kelly, and both turned out to be busts. 2010 saw us spend a third on University of Miami standout Leonard Hankerson, but an injury his rookie season, and some inconsistencies catching the football, have derailed his first two seasons. The free agent route has provided the team with a spark, as the additions of Garcon and Morgan show significant promise, but both players have struggled with injury during their first year with the team, and need to show coaches they can stay healthy if they want to be solid contributors. There is not too much young talent behind the previously mentioned three, and this is the main concern moving forward. Aldrick Robinson has shown glimpses, but he is more of a one-trick-pony at this point. Santana Moss is a still contributing at a fairly descent level, but his time with the Redskins is limited due to his age.
In this day and age where the pass is more important than ever, the Redskins need to have at least two legitimate targets at wide receiver to provide Robert Griffin with support. A failure to do so, will result in defenses not respecting our passing game, making it more difficult for Morris and Co. to gain yards.
Inside Linebacker: There is talent at the position, but our best player's best years are well behind him. London Fletcher is an Iron-Man, but even iron-men have to hang em' up too. Behind he and Riley there are question marks. Robinson has good potential, but an injury took a learning year away from him. His recovery, and ability to improve his reads will be key to his future development. Aside from him, the unit is lacking in young playmakers. The Redskins did add a few Fletcher clones as undrafted free agents, but they can not be counted on to contribute soon, if ever.
Safety: Many will say the future looks bright at safety, and I'll agree, but we can't count our chickens before they hatch. The Redskins drafted two of my favorite college safeties in Thomas and Rambo, and will rely on one, or both to contribute early in 2013. If they can step up their games, and play to the level I feel they are capable of, the future looks very bright. Aside from the rookies, we have Meriweather, who is returning from a knee injury, Gomes, Pugh, Doughty and Bernstine(who is also returning from a very serious knee injury).
Corner Back: This probably shouldn't be looked at as an area for concern, but I'll add it anyways to spark up some debate. The Redskins spent a second round pick on NC State stud junior David Amerson, and view him as the future on the outside. They also added size and physicality to the unit with the signing of E.J. Biggers in free agency. Biggers will have to prove his worth this season if he hopes to land a long-term deal with the club. Second year player Richard Crawford turned some heads with his play late last season, and also gave a much needed spark to the punt return game. His maturation will be one to watch in 2013. Aside from the players mentioned, the Redskins return both of their starting corners from last season; Hall and Wilson, and although this could be their last season in Burgundy and Gold, both should play vital roles to the success of the unit.
Oh wow, I almost forgot to mention everyone's favorite, Chase Minnifield. There, I said his name. Now you can all be happy!
So what position(s) are you most worried about for the future of this team?
Please cite your reasons and remedies in the comment section.