Wow, what a disappointing season it has been, and much like the past, the media circus that continually follows this team has been visible once again. "Un-named sources", most likely created by a deprived media host, have attempted to turn RG3 against the world. Jay Gruden has tried his best to extinguish some of these fires, but phrases such as "throwing teammates under the bus", "can't do it alone", "poor game plan" and "missed assignments", have still become prevalent at Redskins Park. Scenes of a jovial locker room after a loss, and basketball being played after practice have been reported.
Jack Kent Cooke must be rolling over in his grave.
To steal a line from one of my favorite authors - J.R.R. Tolkien
"From the ashes a fire shall be woken,
A light from the shadows shall spring;
Renewed shall be blade that was broken,
The crownless again shall be king."
Yes, I believe a Phoenix can rise from the ashes that is this burning heap of dung we call a football team, and blossom new hope for a return to mediocrity. And yes, at this point, even mediocrity would be an upgrade.
Admist all this doom-and-gloom, there are a few bright spots we can look forward to over the next six games, and heading into the offseason.
Top Draft Pick:
It is very likely that the Redskins will be picking in the top 10 of the 2015 NFL Draft. We haven't had a first round pick in two years, and we haven't had our full compliment of picks in what seems like an eternity. This is not an extremely deep draft, and the top-end talent is not abundant, but there are some quality prospects at positions of need for the Redskins to select from.
- Leonard Williams DT USC
- Landon Collins S Alabama
- Brandon Scheriff T/G Iowa
- Eddie Goldman DT Florida St.
- Shawn Oakman DE Baylor(if we went back to a 4-3 defense)
2nd round options:
- Gerod Holliman FS Louisville
- Hroniss Grasu C Oregon
- Michael Bennett DT Ohio St.
- Reese Dismukes C Auburn
Obviously, position rankings, team needs(free agency) and early entry can effect this list before the draft, but with a high first and second round pick, we should be able to find some quality starting talent to begin building around for the future.
The Maturation of our Young Corners:
The future looks bright at corner for the Redskins. Both David Amerson and Bashaud Breeland have played well this season. Amerson doesn't get tested as much as the rookie Breeland, but he rarely gets beat deep, and is a sound tackler in both run support and in the open field after a completion. His game is certainly on the rise, and he has been praised by head coach Jay Gruden for his maturity, and improvement this season.
Breeland was forced into action after DeAngelo Hall went on injured reserve with a torn Achilles, and has not disappointed. He's had some rookie mistakes, but his game has been pretty solid overall. He shows the ability to play press-man, off-man, and zone, and his instincts and technique are impressive for a young player. He also displays great make-up speed when he needs it, and his tackling reminds many of a strong safety.
DeAngelo Hall Moving to Safety:
This is something I have been talking about for the last three years, and with the way Amerson and Breeland have been playing, this move seems inevitable if Hall wants to extend his career. It seems like Hall has been in the league forever, but he'll be just 31 at the start of the 2015 season, and when healthy, the 5'10" 200 pounder can still bring it. His tackling has improved from his earlier years, and he's still one of the better ball-hawking corners in the league. He may no longer be a 4.3 guy, but his speed has never been an issue, and with 10 months to rehab, his Achilles should be fine to start the 2015 season.
A Defensive Change:
I don't know what form this change will come in, but it's evident to even the most casual fan that sweeping changes need to be made on the defensive side of the ball this offseason. The removal of Jim Haslett would be step number one. The move back to a 4-3 defense would be step number two. And step number three would be the removal of some aging, struggling veterans, and an infusion of youth and talent.
Safety, defensive tackle, the Orakpo dilemma and a move to safety for Hall are all things that need to be addressed from a personnel standpoint this offseason. Free agency and the draft will be key to how our team is shaped heading into 2015.
The key here is that we already have some pieces in place. Like I mentioned above, we seem to be set at cornerback for the foreseeable future. We have a young pass rusher in Ryan Kerrigan, and a developmental defensive end in Trent Murphy. The emergence of Keenan Robinson has solidified one of our linebacker spots, and eventhough Perry Riley has struggled with pass coverage responsibilities this year(again), he still makes plays for us when needed. We all saw a glimpse of what Will Compton can do when called into action, and if a switch to the 4-3 is made, he would make a great WILL linebacker. If Hall can make a successful transition to free safety(which I believe he can), than we may be able to limit our focus to strong safety and defensive line. With the draft and free agency, this should be a fairly reachable fix.
The Growth of RG3:
Yes, this is the elephant in the room. The growth and maturation of Robert Griffin III will be vital to our teams future success. I believe Griffin is our future, but we do need to see marked improvement from him over these final six games, and a different mind-set heading into the 2015 offseason. It's not fair to point the finger solely at Griffin, as we all know a very poor offensive line, lack of a sustainable running game, injuries to key players, and even offensive play calling are partially to blame, but when you take on the role of "face of the franchise", these are the issue that comes with this. If Griffin can have a injury-free six games, where he shows glimpses of his 2012 form, we will go into the offseason with renewed hope. If not, we go into the offseason with even more questions.
If two elephants could fit into a room, the offensive line would be elephant number two; and trust me, it's not because of the size and power they possess. The offensive line has been absolutely horrible this season. Chester is a shell of his former self(and mind you, that former self was never an All-Pro linemen). Lichtensteiger has officially set up base camp in our own backfield, and it doesn't seem like he's moving out anytime soon. Despite what the Pottery King who enjoys showing his private parts to the social media world may say, Licht is a walking disaster at center. It has also become very clear to me that Compton is not the answer at right tackle. This leaves us with three huge holes to plug on the offensive line this offseason.
I have started to gain some faith in Morgan Moses. Only problem is, I believe he is better at left tackle than right tackle. No way does he take Trent Williams' position on the left side, so our only hope is that he can step up his game, and become a competent right tackle. At guard, Long seems to be the smart choice to take over in his second season. He's big, strong and nasty, and with a bit of seasoning, could turn into a nice player. I'd still like to see him get a chance to play in these last six games, so we can get some film on him heading into the offseason. As for center, I believe that is going to have to come from the draft or free agency. The draft seems like the most logical choice, but if a young, affordable free agent hits the market come March, we'd be hard pressed not to take a look.
So, for the offensive line in 2015, I'm going to go all optimistic on you, and say the lineup looks something like this:
LT - Williams
LG - Lauvao(he's not as bad as people are making him out to be)
C - draft/free agent
RG - Long
RT - Moses OR draft/free agent
Guys Who Need to Play More:
There are some guys on this team that need time to show coaches if they can play or not, and other rookies who need to get some real game action on tape to evaluate for next season.
Phillip Thomas - Thomas is the top guy I'd like to see get playing time. If he can show his talent, we may have solved one of our safety issues.
Josh LeRibeus - There is no reason LeRibeus shouldn't be on the field for the next six games.
Morgan Moses - Even if Trent Williams returns this week, Moses has to be inserted into the starting lineup.
Spencer Long - Again, we need film on the rookies. Now is the time to get it.
Silas Redd - Let's see how he can handle 15+ touches a game.
Will Compton - We have already seen what he can do in a starting role. At the very least, put him in for obvious passing situations.
Akeem Davis - This kid is uber-athletic, and supposedly very intelligent. Let's see if these skills translate to games.
Ryan Grant - Someone young needs to begin developing chemistry with Griffin.
Niles Paul - I'm about done with the Jordan Reed experiment.
Cuts/Do not Re-sign:
Moss(he's likely to retire anyways)
Clark(he's likely to joing ESPN as an analyst)
.....and finally - Watching the cheerleaders!