Continuing on with our "dumpster fire series," today we'll take a detailed look at the Redskins and why they'll fail in 2014. Yesterday we eviscerated the Cowboys, in case you missed it. To note, we will not be talking about the positives of any of the Eagles' NFC East rivals, because, again, screw that. Also to note, this was originally published in the Eagles Almanac, which I can say without any hyperbole may be the best piece of literature in the history of mankind.
1) What is Robert Griffin III? Is he a star player? He certainly has all the tools.
Or is he Michael Vick 2.0? Will he have sporadic moments of greatness, but ultimately always be an injury risk and ineffective from the pocket?
Are the concerns over his mentality legit? Does he take accountability, or is it always someone else's fault? Can he get along with his coaches over a long period of time? Is the fact that this his third offense in four years noteworthy? Maybe Jay Gruden will bring stability to the Redskins, in which case RG3 will have a stable environment with which to work? But in the short term, could learning an entirely new offense slow his growth?
And then there's the ACL injury… He's now two years removed from it, but will he be what he was as a runner his rookie season?
While RG3 has the highest upside of any QB in the NFC East, he also has the most question marks.
2) The Redskins did not have a first round pick, as I'm sure we're all aware. The Redskins traded up a mere four spots from six to two in the 2012 draft to get RG3. That move up cost the Skins their second round pick in 2012, as well as their first round picks in 2013 and 2014. If the Redskins still had their 2014 first round pick, they would have drafted second overall.
It's interesting to wonder who they would have taken with that pick if they still had it. Would they have gone with Greg Robinson, the beast mauler from Auburn? That'd be a nice upgrade over RT Tyler Polumbus. Or maybe you stick him at LG next to Trent Williams and just dominate on the left side of your line. Or maybe you take stud pass rusher Khalil Mack? With Brian Orakpo playing on the franchise tag this season, Mack could have been mixed in situationally and eventually replaced Orakpo full time in 2015.
The point is this – The Redskins don't have much in the way of starters in recent drafts. In fact, only nine of the Redskins' projected 22 starters on offense and defense were Redskins draft picks. That is the fewest in the division.
If Robert Griffin III turns out to be a "Top 5-10" kind of QB, the extremely hefty price the Redskins paid will have been worth it. However, they are already feeling the effects on not having those high picks, as several holes in the starting lineup might have been solved, both in the short term and long term.
3) The Redskins gave up 29.9 points per game last season, which was tied for second worst in the NFL. It was also the 5th worst points per game allowed in the NFL in the last decade. While that's obviously not good, it's even worse considering the Redskins didn't have any major injuries on the defensive side of the ball in 2013.
4) According to Football Outsiders, the Redskins led the league with 104 missed tackles in 2013. The league average was 66.8. To note, the Eagles led the league in 2012 with 97 missed tackles, and they only had 66 in 2013, which is an even more impressive turnaround considering their defense played more snaps than any other team in the NFL. In other words, the Eagles proved that better tackling can be improved drastically from one year to the next.
However, last offseason the Eagles cleaned house on their defensive coaching staff and specifically targeted defensive backs in free agency who had both the desire and ability to tackle. The Redskins did neither.
5) Because the Redskins were SO bad at tackling last year, we're using it twice. More specifically, their defensive backs were atrocious tacklers. Using PFF's numbers, Redskins DBs who played at least 200 snaps missed a staggering 20.3% of their tackles last year.
Here's how that compares with the other NFC East teams' tackling efficiency.
It seems like something more than a coincidence that almost every Redskin DB missed at least 20% of their tackles last year. Did the Redskins just happen to find a collection of some of the worst tacklers in the league, or is it a bigger problem?
Wilson and Doughty are out, and Ryan Clark, who missed 14.8% of his tackle attempts last year, is in. Have they gotten better at tackling? Let's check in on the Redskins' dress rehearsal game against the Ravens:
6) The Redskins' defense isn't just bad. It's old. Five starters are over the age of 30, and its entire starting defensive line had injuries this offseason. Jason Hatcher (32) had arthroscopic knee surgery, Barry Cofield (30) had hernia surgery, and projected backup Stephen Bowen (30) had microfracture surgery. Rounding out the starting thirty-somethings on the Skins' D are DeAngelo Hall (31 in November), Brandon Meriweather (30), and Ryan Clark (35 in October).
7) The Eagles were fortunate to have good health along their OL in 2013. We all remember how badly the OL was devastated by injuries in 2012, so the Eagles' ability to stay healthy has been a highly cited reason for their success last season, and a potential killer if they don't have a repeat of said health. However, the Redskins also had extremely good health along their OL last year as well. Three of their starters -- Will Montgomery, Tyler Polumbus, and Chris Chester – played every single snap last year. Trent Williams missed two snaps, and Kory Lichtensteiger missed 17 snaps. The same "they're unlikely to experience the same kind of health this year" theory applies to the Skins.
8) Alfred Morris is a running back that I happen to like quite a bit. He's a big back who runs hard, rarely has negative rushes, and almost always falls forward. In his two year career, he has 2,888 yards on 4.7 yards per carry, and 20 rushing TDs.
However, Morris has two significant issues.
First, he has nine fumbles his first two years in the NFL. The Eagles were big beneficiaries of Morris' fumbling Week 1 last season. He fumbled on the Redskins' first offensive possession, which led to an Eagles TD. And later in the first quarter, he mishandled pitch from RG3 that led to a safety, and he wasn't even charged with that fumble.
Secondly, he's extremely one-dimensional. In 2013, Morris had a grand total of two first downs on receptions. When the Redskins pass with Morris in the game, he serves as little more than an extra blocker.
A lot of running backs had success in Mike Shanahan's zone blocking scheme, then fizzled out in a different offense. It will be very interesting to see how Morris' game translates to Jay Gruden's west coast offense.
9) Mike Tanier wrote an article for Sports on Earth in November claiming that the 2013 Redskins might be the worst special teams unit of all time. Football Outsiders agrees. They ranked the Redskins dead last in the NFL in special teams, with a -11.9% DVOA.
10) Dan Snyder still owns the Redskins.
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