Thursday, January 2, 2014
Washington Redskins season wrap-up
By John Keim
Arrow indicates direction team is trending.
Final Power Ranking: 31
Preseason Power Ranking: 10
Biggest surprise: The complete collapse. After last season's strong finish and all the youth on offense, the Redskins appeared poised to have an excellent year. Their defense looked good this summer, too, and welcomed back linebacker Brian Orakpo. But instead of fighting for a playoff spot, they're now battling other teams to find a head coach. It was not difficult to see the Redskins doing worse than last year, considering the cap penalties and Robert Griffin III's knee. But 10-6 to 3-13? That was tough to predict.
• NFC season wrap-ups: N | S | E | W
• AFC season wrap-ups: N | S | E | W
Biggest disappointment: The return of the circus atmosphere. The locker room held together well during the losing and maintained their support of the coaching staff. But the consistent leaks led to one story after another taking shots at Griffin, his father and the Shanahans. It led to speculation about why certain stories emerged. It also turned a bad season into a horrible one in which it became clear change was necessary. And the rift between Griffin and coach Mike Shanahan widened. One year ago the future appeared bright for the franchise. Now they'll enter the offseason with a lot of questions about their future.
Biggest need: Head coach. They already needed secondary help, another linebacker, a pass-rushing lineman and another receiver -- plus an offensive lineman or two. Now they need someone to lead the franchise. This is the sixth time owner Dan Snyder will have to find a new head coach in the offseason, which suggests his approach has not worked. No coach will have lasted more than four years under him. Not everything is his fault, of course, but it is a fact. Snyder will need to find someone who can develop Griffin, which means the offensive coordinator hire will be highly important as well. The Redskins likely will look to an offensive-minded head coach (for the fourth straight time under Snyder). But what they need to find is a good head coach. Otherwise they'll repeat this scenario in three or four years.
Team MVP: Wide receiver Pierre Garcon. He set a franchise record with 113 receptions, a testament to his consistency as he caught at least five passes in every game. He made the occasional flashy catch -- a one-handed grab or when he slipped and fell and caught a ball while sitting. But for the most part it was just about consistency, from the way he ran his routes to his approach to playing. Garcon played with passion and emotion and also contributed in the run game with his blocking. Garcon excelled at getting yards after the catch on horizontal routes because of his fearless style. Though running back Alfred Morris had a strong season, too, Garcon was more consistent.
GRADING THE WASHINGTON REDSKINS
Robert Griffin III was inconsistent after missing the offseason, which hurt his mechanics. Griffin showed some signs of his former self, but not often enough, and his impact wasn't what it needed to be. He was benched, ostensibly for his health, for the final three games. Kirk Cousins showed good and bad in his three starts.
They had a solid season, led by Alfred Morris' 1,275 yards. But his fumbles hurt the Redskins badly in two games. Roy Helu was supposed to be a big threat out of the backfield, but he rarely impacted games. Fullback Darrel Young was solid, but injuries limited him down the stretch.
Pierre Garcon would get an A, but there are too many others who received less than a C. It would have been good to see if Leonard Hankerson would have continued to progress. But another injury ended his season.
Logan Paulsen was a solid blocker and managed to catch 28 passes. Athletic tight end Jordan Reed was a terrific pick in the third round and caught 45 passes -- but the rookie also missed the final six games with a concussion. Fred Davis, returning from an Achilles injury, provided little.
They were hurt by quarterback indecision at times and they're not built to handle the dropback passing game, which they were forced to do. But it's wrong to pin the high sack total just on them. They do deserve credit for the run game success.
Barry Cofield played well at times, but was not as disruptive as it appeared he'd be after his preseason. Stephen Bowen missed the final six games because of a knee injury and didn't record a sack. The line combined for 5.5 sacks, with 4.5 from Cofield and Jarvis Jenkins. That needs to change in 2014.
Ryan Kerrigan started the season well and Brian Orakpo had a strong second half of the season. But they rarely were disruptive together the way the Redskins needed. They did not get enough big plays from inside linebackers Perry Riley and London Fletcher. Only Kerrigan is signed for next season.
Corner DeAngelo Hall was solid, making big plays and facing the best receivers. But overall the secondary was way too inconsistent, especially at safety, thanks to injuries and bad play. They need a talent infusion in the secondary. Rookie corner David Amerson showed positive signs, but was inconsistent. They had no depth.
The Redskins allowed three returns for a touchdown and never made any sort of game-changing plays of their own. You can't just blame special teams coach Keith Burns as the unit was poorly built, and that's not his fault. The kick coverage improved, but the entire season overall was a struggle.
This was the same coaching staff that helped the Redskins to a division title in 2012. But it failed to develop enough depth and did not always get the most from its talent. The Redskins had some good coaches, but they did not look like a well-coached team. Many reasons explain the bad season (including turnovers and the cap penalty). But the coaches couldn't prevent a collapse.