There is a generation of fans that knows something about the Washington Redskins that I don't, mainly that they were once a fun team to watch. That there was a time when the Redskins were among the league's elite and did things like score points and win games under Joe Gibbs. However, for me the Redskins have been one of the most boring teams in the league, and that all culminated with the 2011 quarterback competition between Rex Grossman and John Beck. I'd say that aptly summarizes how I've felt about the Redskins (a team that hasn't finished with a top 10 offense since 1999 and hasn't done it consistently since the late eighties and early nineties) over the last decade.
They're a constant competition between Grossman and Beck. Washington hasn't just been underwhelming, they've been whelming. "Oh, the Redskins? They've got... well, they still have.... wait, who do they have?"
The Redskins seemed to have taken the easy route on finding a franchise quarterback after they won a Super Bowl with Mark Rypien. Drafting the likes of Patrick Ramsey or Jason Campbell, and not trying to make that big splash at the top of the draft. Until now.
The Robert Griffin move was something I would have never expected out of Washington and Mike Shanahan, but they did it and they paid a dear price for it. They won't be drafting much on day one over the next couple of years, but the addition of Griffin and receiver Pierre Garcon will make them something that I never thought they were:
Here's a preview of the 2012 Washington Redskins offense.
2011 Record: 5-11
Drafted Skill Players: Robert Griffin III, QB (1st), Kirk Cousins, QB (4th), Alfred Morris, RB (6th)
Dearly Departed: John Beck, Ryan Torain, Jabar Gaffney, Donte Stallworth
Robert Griffin III
Last season the Redskins had to worst QB camp battle of recent memory when they pitted the career-disappointment Rex Grossman versus Beck, who hadn't played in years. It's the exact opposite feeling of excitement at the position this year as the Redskins went all-in on RG3. They won't have their own first round pick again until 2015 because of it, but I believe that it was worth it. In hindsight, would you have let your team traded 3 1st's and a 2nd for Cam Newton? I sure would have. Franchise QBs are hard to find.
Can Griffin compare to that?
Well, I thought that Newton was a bit overrated coming out of Auburn and was forced to not only eat those words, but do a complete 180. Newton is going to have an incredible career. But I still like Griffin more, coming out of college at least. He's an elite talent athletically and shows elite character. If you're going to go all-in on a QB prospect, I understand why it's Griffin. It's really hard for me to take a stab at what RG3 will do this year, but I'll give it a shot. I don't expect the Skins to put too much pressure on Griffin this year and will try to put him in a position to succeed without having to do everything.
2012 Projection: 56% completions, 3,200 yards, 14 TD, 18 INT, 500 yards rushing, 6 TD. Pierre Garcon was a good pickup, but I'd still like to see Griffin get another big weapon first.
When asked about how likely he thought it was that the Redskins would draft him, Cousins had said, "Out of 32 teams, they were probably 32nd." Makes sense to all of us too, right? With Griffin drafted and already having traded away their second round pick, it seems highly unlikely that Washington would use its third pick in the draft on another QB, but what has ever made sense with Mike Shanahan?
Well, it makes sense if the Skins are correct in their assessment that Cousins is going to be an NFL starter, even if it's not with them. He provides Griffin insurance, but if he displays playmaking ability in pre-season or as a backup, Washington can flip a guy that they drafted in the fourth for who-knows-what.
And then Grossman has to fight a 4th round rookie for a backup job to a starter job that was his just last season.
Good luck figuring this situation out, especially before August. I like Helu the most out of the three, but that doesn't mean much. I'm not entirely sure that there even will be a "starter" by anything more than technicality. What I like about Helu is the 49 catches he had last season. He had an even 200 touches for a little over 1,000 total yards in 15 games.
He started out as the starter last year and then lost it. I just don't get why Hightower would be above Helu on the depth chart, but it could happen.
Royster is the dark horse, the sleeper, the wild card. He had 5.9 yards per carry on 56 attempts, and while he isn't exceptionally fast, he's deceptive. He's not the name that a lot of people are going to know about, but he could come out of this as the starter.
2012 Projection: Hell if I know. This has committee stamped all over it and the Redskins are STILL going to look to veteran free agency depending on how everybody looks in pre-season and Hightower's health. Something in my gut tells me that Royster is going to be a good pickup this year.
It was always assumed that receivers in Indy got a boost from Peyton Manning (and of course they did) but Garcon posted career-highs in catches and yards with a bunch of no-names last season. I think he's been a very underrated free agent pickup this year and I like what I see when I watch Garcon play. He could post career-highs again with Griffin, a real deal quarterback.
2012 Projection: 75 catches, 1000 yards, 5 TD
Moss, 33, posted his worst numbers since 2002 when he was a part-time second year player with the Jets. He also didn't have much of a quarterback to work with. His full-time fantasy days are over, but he could have a couple of nice games.
2012 Projection: 45 catches, 500 yards, 3 TD
The Redskins gave Morgan a 5-year contract and while he doesn't look like anything special, he might be ahead of Moss at this point. I just don't know that I'd give him much of a chance on my team. He played in five games with the 49ers last year and then was lost for the season. He had 220 yards in those games and was looking like he'd repeat his near-700 yard 2010 season.
2012 Projection: 50 catches, 650 yards, 3 TD
He's my sleeper pick for the Redskins but I'm not sure how healthy he'll be this season and how long it will take him to get acclimated to game speed. He might be a better player to keep an eye on later in the year, but I do think he's interesting long term.
2012 Projection: 25 catches, 350 yards, 1 TD
He broke out for almost 800 yards last year but only caught three touchdowns. I expect Griffin to use his tight ends, but also to use both of his tight ends. Cooley played in just five games and if I can't predict injuries, then I can't predict that Davis will repeat 800 yards. I feel safer staying away from Davis or Cooley until we get closer to the season.
He is entering his ninth season with the Redskins and is coming off the shortest season of his career, in which he had 65 yards in five games. I'm not ready to say that Cooley's days as a receiving tight end are over and so I'm not ready to declare Davis as a premium TE1.
2012 Projection: Davis tops 700 yards and Cooley chips in 400.