Wednesday, January 4, 2012
Redskins regular-season wrap-up
By Dan Graziano
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 26
Preseason Power Ranking: 28
Linebacker London Fletcher was his usual reliable self for the Redskins in 2011.
Biggest surprise: Rookie running backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster, who combined for five 100-yard rushing games in the final stretch of the season. Helu had three of them, and once Helu got hurt, Royster had two. The Redskins were able to run the ball effectively early in the season, too, with original starter Tim Hightower. And if Hightower can come back from his ACL injury, running back should be a position of remarkable depth and quality for the Redskins as they head into 2012.
Biggest disappointment: The drug suspensions that cost left tackle Trent Williams and tight end Fred Davis the final four games of the season. The two young stars were having fantastic seasons, and the manner in which they were suspended called into question not only their intelligence but their commitment to the team. The Redskins want to consider both of those positions developing strengths as they move into a brighter future, and right now they are left to hope this turns out to be a lesson learned rather than a sign of more trouble to come.
Biggest need: Quarterback. Not that much was expected, but Rex Grossman threw 20 interceptions in 13 starts, and John Beck was an utter disaster in the three games he started in Grossman's place. The disappointment fans feel about quarterback comes from the fact that the team didn't do more to address it last offseason, and upgrading over what they have at that position now must be an offseason priority if the Redskins are going to continue to make the progress they insist they made in 2011.
Team MVP:London Fletcher. The veteran inside linebacker was running offseason player workouts during the lockout, keeping a sheet of paper with some of the team's 3-4 defense plays from 2010 in his pocket and calling them out as they ran through drills on their own. Once the season began, the 37-year-old wonder brought it every game, leading the NFL in tackles for the season, helping with the development of young players like Perry Riley and Ryan Kerrigan and setting an everyday, every-week example as the best, most intense, most focused and most prepared player on the team. Having Fletcher is like having a coach on the field in addition to a great player, and there's no wonder why Shanahan has called bringing back the potential free agent a top priority.
The other side of the ball: The Redskins did a lot of fine work rebuilding their defense in the 2011 offseason, bringing in players such as Barry Cofield, Stephen Bowen and Josh Wilson while drafting Kerrigan. But while they may still need to add a piece or two in the secondary, depending on what happens with DeAngelo Hall and LaRon Landry, the Redskins' focus this offseason is likely to be on offense. They need a quarterback, a No. 1 receiver and some more beef on the offensive line.