Today our summer film watching series takes a look at the Washington Redskins. When I studied the 2011 Redskins, the real problems they had were not so much on the defensive side of the ball but what was going on with Mike and Kyle Shanahan's offense. Where the Redskins struggled the most were in three areas, quarterback, wide receiver and offensive line.
The more I watched Rex Grossman at quarterback, the more I understood why the club made an all-in type of move in the draft to try and get Robert Griffin III out of Baylor. It was amazing to me how careless Grossman was with the ball at times. The offense would be in decent position to complete a drive on a positive note with points and Grossman would just fire the ball into a crowd of defenders without any regard for the results. To make matters worse, Grossman didn't have the skill level to get away with these types of throws. There were too many times where he was playing like he believed that he was a much more talented quarterback. He is not the type of quarterback that can make all the throws. He has limited arm strength and he will struggle with his accuracy.
Robert Griffin III is a much better fit for this offense. The Shanahans like to run play-action pass off their stretch or zone blocking scheme. They will give you a lot of different formation looks and combinations but in the end, they want the ball to start one way pressing the hole or cutting it back behind the blocking scheme. Griffin is an outstanding ball handler but more importantly he can make the throws off the play fakes whether it is to a dragging Fred Davis and Chris Cooley or Santana Moss over the top.
I mentioned the wide receivers earlier and it was for a reason. Other than Moss, there were no playmakers in the group. In the offseason, the Redskins went out and spent some free-agent dollars on Pierre Garcon from the Colts and Josh Morgan from the 49ers. Garcon has had 137 catches with 12 touchdowns the last two seasons. He has been a durable player who for the majority of his career has been quarterback friendly. Morgan is from the Washington D.C. area but hasn't had the type of career that many thought he might have had out of Virginia Tech. He played only five games for the 49ers last season finishing with 15 catches. Garcon should be a huge help on the outside while Moss can work from the slot. As Cowboys fans know, he has been a very productive player over the years. His quickness and explosiveness is outstanding. He can sprint full speed for 16 yards then turn on a dime for the curl. In the Dallas game, he did just that to Mike Jenkins who was in good shape on the route then over ran it thinking that Moss was going to take him deep. Moss still is a difficult player to handle because he is fearless in where him lines up and runs his routes. The Shanahan's like to use him all over the place trying to create mismatches.
The Redskins have two talented tight ends on their roster in Fred Davis and Chris Cooley. Neither one of these players are great point-of-attack blockers but more athletes that can play slot, flex or out of the back field. Where defensive coordinators get in trouble is when they try to match up a linebacker with either one of these guys. There were plenty of times in the games I was studying where they were both open on routes but Grossman was unable to get them the ball. Griffin will be able to get them the ball.
I mentioned an area that I thought the Redskins struggled on offense was along the offensive line but to my surprise, they didn't add any big ticket free agents but chose to draft two guards and a tackle with the picks they did not send away in the Griffin trade. They drafted Josh LeRibeus in the 3rd and Adam Gettis in the 5th to play inside and Tom Compton in the 6th to play on the outside. Of the starting offensive linemen they do have, I do like left tackle Trent Williams. I have to give him a lot of credit, in the games I watched, he did a nice job against DeMarcus Ware, Trent Cole and Jason Pierre Paul. Williams is very athletic plus he plays with power. There are plenty of times where they leave him one on one and he handles his assignments. The next best player on the line in my view is center Will Montegomery who can also play some guard. Overall as mentioned, it is not an outstanding group other than Williams so you will get to see how athletic Robert Griffin III really is.
If the Redskins defense was in Carolina last season, Cam Newton would have won more games his rookie season. What the Redskins are betting on is that this defense can get the same results from their rookie quarterback that the Panthers did. There are several players on this defense to like. They have hit on two outstanding linebackers in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Both are relentless players off the edge. Orakpo is a nightmare as a pass rusher because of the way he is so explosive off the ball. When he rushes, he is on the tackle right now. There are no wasted steps or movements to the quarterback. He has the ability to get the corner quickly. Kerrigan can get up the field as well but he doesn't play with the explosion of Orakpo but he is more technique driven. I was impressed with the way that he is able to rush up the field throwing pass rush moves without stopping his rush. Think he is a better player against the run than Orakpo but where he can hurt you is his ability to run from the backside.
Defensive end Stephen Bowen had his moments along the defensive line. Like Orakpo and Kerrigan, he plays with a lot of effort and is a good pass rusher from the inside in the nickel. At inside linebacker, London Fletcher is a tackling machine that never seems to slow down despite all his years in the league.
In the secondary, there will be two new safeties in Tanard Jackson from Tampa and Brandon Merriweather from the Bears replacing Reed Doughty and LaRon Landry. The cornerbacks will remain the same, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Hall is an interesting player because I have never seen a corner like him that is able to guess on routes and make more plays. Hall will also bait quarterbacks into throws where he can drive on the ball and make an interception. Wilson does a really nice job of playing man coverage. He is usually in good position in the route and you don't see much separation. I really do like the way that Wilson plays with technique throughout the game.
The Redskins should be a much better team with the addition of Robert Griffin III despite that he is only a rookie. Their defense can hold them in a lot of games and give them the opportunity to win but he is going to need some help to from Garcon, Moss, Davis and Cooley to make some plays. Griffin has more than enough talent to keep the Shanahan's from losing their jobs.