The Redskins linebackers will be better in 2014. As much as I hate to say it, the loss of London Flecther will improve the group. Fletcher became a liability as early as the 2012 season, when it became obvious that he was not the same player he used to be. His reads and reactions were still at an All-Pro level, but his body could not keep up.
In 2013 we saw something we have never seen from Fletcher up to this point in his career - below average play.
Moving into the 2014 offseason, linebacker is an area in need of upgrading for Jay Gruden and his staff. Many feel that we may need a serious overhaul to become competent at the position, but I feel the group is nearly set. We just need to add the finishing touches to make this unit one of the best in the NFL.
Re-signing our Free Agents:
It is imperative that we re-sign our own home-grown talent. Brian Orakpo and Perry Riley should be prioritys 1 and 1a.
Not too much needs to be said about Orakpo. He is an elite young talent who is improving with time. This past season, we saw his game go to another level with his sound play against the run. He was able to show great strength in setting the edge, and made a lot of plays for this defense against some pretty good rushing offenses. I think his overall play was much better than counterpart Ryan Kerrigan, who has always been viewed as the more "complete" of the two.
In Riley, I believe we have a young superstar in the making. He shows great awareness, instincts, and ability to get to the football - all things he needed to improve on two years ago. What has improved the most is his pass coverage. He looks much more sure of his reads and responsibilities, and had the athleticism to stay with backs and tight ends.
If both of these players are re-signed before the opening of free agency, we will be well on our way to securing the position for the foreseeable future.
I would like the Redskins to sign a young free agent to take the place of London Fletcher. There are some quality young players set to become free agents, and the Redskins could solidify the position with one of these additions.
Donald Butler(25) - San Diego Chargers
Pat Angerer(26) - Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Spikes(26) - New England Patriots
Arthur Moats(25) - Buffalo Bills
Joe Mays(28) - Houston Texans
Aside from re-signing our own players, and adding a piece via free agency, I believe we have some talent already on this roster. The return of Keenan Robinson from injury should provide excellent depth, and immediate special teams help. Robinson is a very good athlete at the linebacker position, and could be a future starter with 3-down capability.
Brandon Jenkins is going into his second season with the Redskins. As a rookie, he was a one-trick-pony, showing only a speed rush as an outside linebacker. He needs to work on counter moves, and upper-body strength to become a contributer, but the skills are there; he just needs someone to help maximize them.
Other potential contributors on the roster are second year players Jeremy Kimbrough, Will Compton, and veterans Josh Hull, Rob Jackson, Darryl Tapp and Adrian Robinson.
With the return of Ryan Kerrigan, the re-signing of Perry Riley and Brian Orakpo, and the addition of a young quality free agent in the middle, the Redskins will be on their way to having one of the best linebacking corps in the NFL.