There are plenty of things about the Washington Redskins roster that can be improved in 2014, after all you can't expect to fix everything in one offseason and go from a 3-13 team to a 16-0 team (sorry Ryan Clark). As the season approaches, Hogs Haven will take a look at the Redskins reasons for hope and concern in 2014.
We will start with the Redskins reasons for concern heading into 2014:
The Redskins defense hasn't improved enough; the safety position in particular. The safety position did receive an upgrade when the Skins signed Ryan Clark in free agency. However, Clark will turn 35 during the season and it is fair to wonder how much he has left in the tank. He is also currently battling a hamstring injury, an injury that can be tricky to come back from. The other starting safety spot will be manned by Brandon Meriweather, who also finds himself on the wrong side of 30, and has seen his reckless style of play result in suspensions from the NFL. The depth behind the veteran starters isn't fantastic either. Phillip Thomas showed potential as a rookie in training camp but landed on IR before his season got started, and is also currently battling a hamstring injury. Bacarri Rambo had a disastrous rookie campaign where he was targeted by opposing offenses early and often, exposing the fact that the rookie was not prepared for his role. If Rambo wants to make the team he will have to improve his tackling, he is finding himself being pushed by Akeem Davis and Trenton Robinson. Regardless of the four or five that make the team, the safety position is one of the weakest positions on the roster. Most of the depth guys playing behind the starters are extremely raw and unproven, and also one injury away from a major role. It's concerning.
The defensive front seven isn't a huge concern, but there are a few worrisome spots. Keenan Robinson is the man in charge of replacing future Hall of Fame inductee London Fletcher, big shoes to fill especially for a player that has eleven career tackles to his name. Robinson hasn't seen much game action, can he handle such a big role? Can he play consistently through 16 games? Can he even stay healthy for 16 games? No matter how promising Robinson has looked throughout the offseason, his lack of experience and injury history should be at least a little bit concerning for the Redskins.
Similarly to the safety position, can the defensive line continue to be productive and stay healthy due to their "advanced" age? Jason Hatcher, Barry Cofield, and Stephen Bowen all look to have big roles for the Skins in 2014, and all find themselves on the wrong side of 30. Hatcher and Bowen have already battled injuries during camp, Bowen has yet to return from a knee injury that is threatening his chances to make the roster.
Moving on to the offense, we'll start with the offensive line. If your name isn't Trent Williams I'm concerned about you and concerned about the line as a whole. Protecting RGIII is going to be key to the Redskins success in 2014 and I'm just not sold that the Redskins have done enough to bolster a group that preformed flat out terribly in 2013. The Redskins drafted some promising players for the future, but as of now there will be only one new starter along the offensive line in 2014. I don't believe the Redskins invested enough in protecting Griffin now, those offensive line prospects they drafted this year won't mean much if Griffin gets hurt again behind a shaky offensive line this season.
Special teams: It cant get much worse than it was in 2013, but how much will the unit improve in 2014? The Skins brought in Ben Kotwica and a lot of new players with special teams history to help address this area but will it translate on the field? In the first preseason game the Redskins let up a big kickoff return but caused a turnover that was then negated by an offsides penalty. These are the type of sloppy plays that killed the momentum far too often in 2013 and the Redskins cannot afford to have in 2014. Have the Redskins done enough? Only time will tell.
Hogs Haven will bring you the "Washington Redskins Reasons for Hope: 2014" tomorrow, stay tuned!