Assuming Redskins fans have forgotten the horrors of 2013, there is much to be excited about in Washington after several offensive acquisitions. While Robert Griffin III, Alfred Morris, and Pierre Garcon remain, it’s the new faces that have Redskins fans buzzing.
After signing wide receivers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts, the new duo will join Pierre Garcon, who had perhaps his best season in 2013 racking up 113 catches to go along with 1,346 yards. With new head coach Jay Gruden at the helm, I expect Garcon’s numbers to look similar in 2014, if not get better. As for Jackson and Roberts, both men resemble players formally coached by Gruden in Andre Hawkins and A.J. Green. While Jackson may not be as dominant as Green, his speed and ability to stretch the field can’t be contained by one defender. In a division with teams who have considerably weak secondaries, Jackson can easily get 70-80 catches and double digit touchdowns. Ask the Redskins themselves, as they had first hand experience watching Jackson torch them for three seasons in Philly. Roberts on the other hand, can play slot receiver and much like Hawkins, has the ability to get 50-60 catches a season. Even after signing a four year, $16 million deal, I expect the fourth year wideout to have around 45 catches and 450+ yards, much like he did in 2013.
While the new crop of receivers is one topic, the man throwing to them is another. Since tearing his ACL in late 2012, quarterback Robert Griffin has since looked shaky and very hesitant. Griffin had only 16 touchdowns to 12 interceptions in 2013, and nearly cut his rushing yards from 2012 in half by only rushing for 489 yards. As of recent, the buzz on RG3 is all positive. Teammates have raved on his current condition, saying he looks fast, savvy, and freakish. According to Pro Football Talk writer Michael David Smith, Griffins teammates are all blown away. Smith would write:
“For all the talk last year of Griffin being ready for Week One, the reality is that just because Griffin was healthy enough to play at the start of the 2013 season, that doesn’t mean he was healthy enough to do everything he had done as a rookie. This year, from all indications, he will be.”
All signs point to the Redskins being a fast and high scoring team in 2014. However, the balance between passing and rushing must be steady and pragmatic, rather than one-sided. This is where Alfred Morris comes into play. Coming off back-to-back 1,000+ yard seasons, Morris will be the difference in both creating space for the receivers, as well as taking pressure off RG3. Under Jay Gruden, I expect Morris to be used in both short yardage situations, and catching passes out of the backfield. In Cincinnati, Gruden had the pleasure of a power back in BenJarvis Green-Ellis, and a speedy pass catcher in Giovanni Bernard. Washington has three bruisers in Alfred Morris, Roy Helu, and Evan Royster. All three backs should see a good amount of carries, with Morris taking the bulk, but with no change of pace runningback, it will be interesting to see how Gruden uses his aggressive screen game.
This is where it pays to have tight ends. More specifically, an athletic and pass catching tight end who can easily become a comfort blanket for RG3. Not taking anything away from Logan Paulsen, but Jordan Reed is my guy in this offense. After being injured the first part of 2013, Reed burst onto the scene with his sneaky quickness and excellent hands. At 6’3”, 225 pounds, he becomes a mismatch nightmare for linebackers and smaller corners. Coach Gruden has had plenty of practice coaching tight ends in his days in Cincinnati. Jermaine Gresham had 46 catches and 458 yards receiving last season, while Tyler Eifert had 39 catches for 445 yards. If healthy, I believe Jordan Reed will have better numbers than both Gresham and Eifert.
All in all, the Redskins will be a force to be reckoned with. If healthy, I don’t see any other NFC east team beating Washington for the division title. All three opponents have had their struggles on defense, and with no more DeMarcus Ware or Justin Tuck coming after RG3, expect the Redskins to have a field day offensively. Not to mention, I’m sure DeSean Jackson would love to get back at the Eagles for his sudden release. Jay Gruden has something up his sleeve, we’ll have to wait and see what exactly that is!