Bold Predictions For The 'Skins In 2013
This is the third and final part of an unannounced and unplanned preseason trilogy. In other words, this wasn’t some intentional strategy to introduce the 2013 season — it just happened. Organic is always best. Last week, I discussed the status of the Washington Redskins organization and roster from a press box/overarching viewpoint. Early this week, I offered up a dangerously detailed breakdown of the 2013 schedule. The last preseason itch to be scratched was offering a few specific predictions just before the kickoff of the 2013 season. Want to know what the immediate future holds for Robert Griffin III, Mike Shanahan and few key players? Well, then, read on.
Alfred Morris Won’t Replicate 2012
If there’s something to dislike about ‘Skins RB Alfred Morris, it has yet to be exposed. Off the field, the former sixth-round pick from Florida Atlantic is humble, reserved and attention deflecting (unlike his backfield mate). On the field, Morris is patient yet violent, has a knack for gaining a few more yards than what is apparently available, displays good ball security and avoids negative plays.
Last season head coach Mike Shanahan entrusted Morris with 335 carries. As the bell cow of their rushing attack, Morris produced 13 touchdowns and a franchise-record 1,613 yards — his second act won’t be as productive.
In 2012, Morris benefited from his anonymity, RGIII’s athleticism and the limited production from other running backs. This year, Morris will sneak up on no one, RGIII will be limited physically (at least early in the season), and Roy Helu, after spending last season on injured reserve, will likely spell Morris periodically and serve as the third-down back. Morris will still get his scores, so his 2012 touchdown total may be duplicated, but his rushing yards will noticeably decline.
Brian, Ryan And The Opposing Quarterbacks
Outside LBs Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan looked incredible in the preseason. They are chiseled specimens who could easily have served as Spartan warrior No. 301 and 302. After being good but not dominant (Kerrigan) and recovering from a flurry of injuries (Orakpo), the duo seems poised to realize its promise. I’ll quantify that statement: Orakpo and Kerrigan will combine for no less than 20 sacks, make the Pro Bowl and will vault the ‘Skins defense from 28th in 2012 into the Top 12.
Kirk Cousins Will Have A Big Role
I chose the optimistic angle with this prediction. The pessimist quickly saw through that feel good B.S. and deduced that only another injury to RGIII would allow for Kirk Cousins to have a big role in 2013. If I had a dollar for every time I muttered “he’s not going to make it” as RGIII was sent flailing out of bounds or took unnecessary hits trying to gain extra yards or extend broken play last season, I’d be drinking much better beer from exotic breweries around the globe. Alas, I was not compensated for my dark prophecies and am stuck consuming adult beverages I can actually pronounce. Life truly is unfair.
My “terrible hardship” aside, Led Zeppelin and I agree: the song remains the same. I don’t believe RGIII is completely healthy. I also don’t believe he’s a fundamentally changed player or that the Shanahan’s will be able to resist using or abusing his full capabilities. There will be caution early, I think; but, eventually, any fleeting sense of prudence or global thinking will fade under the weight of egotism, a hyperactive competitive drive and winning the moment.
Will RGIII play 16 games? If you set the over/under at 12, I’d probably take the under — and that scenario would allow for everyone to find out just how good Kirk Cousins is. There I go with the misplaced optimism again.
CB David Amerson Will Start (Eventually)
Here’s something you already knew: the pass defense was bad last year (30th in NFL for the record). What you might not have known is that London Fletcher, an inside linebacker, led the team with five interceptions. The starting cornerbacks — DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson — contributed six … combined.
With Kerrigan and Orakpo providing more pressure and inducing hastily thrown passes, the defense simply must have more playmaking ability at cornerback. Insert David Amerson, the team’s second-round pick this year, into the void.
Amerson is a big, physical corner who displayed a nose for the ball in college and in the preseason. Will he make mistakes? Will he be called for frustrating pass-interference penalties and yield some big plays? Of course, he’s a rookie. But, eventually, the plays Amerson is able to make will trump his mistakes and the plays the incumbent starting cornerbacks (particularly Wilson) leave on the field.
Shanahan & RGIII or Shanahan Vs. RGIII?
There is obvious tension between Mike Shanahan and RGIII. The head coach and quarterback have taken turns assuring the masses that they’ve worked out their lingering differences from last season, but RGIII’s unprompted commentary screams another story. This offseason, the quarterback has consistently overstepped his bounds and used his considerable organizational control to tweak his head coach and influence the course of his comeback. In recent weeks, RGIII has expressed displeasure with the team’s sudden risk aversion — “Operation Patience” as he dubbed it — and has directly (through his father) and indirectly (through his half-hearted endorsement) conveyed doubts about the read-option, the Shanahan’s offense of choice, being good for his long-term health. And in his final act of defiance, RGIII declared his comeback and “Operation Patience” complete moments after the final preseason game. Perhaps a last shred of patience in the form of a conversation with your head coach would have been well placed ahead of that declaratory tweet? Just sayin’…
With RGIII starting Week 1, the residual tension is moot — for now. But should the quarterback struggle or, more likely, suffer another injury that compromises his availability and clouds his return, the temporary truce will dissolve. The bottom line is the relationship between Shanahan and RGIII lacks trust, and any marriage — professional or personal — lacking trust is but a slight irritant away from dysfunction. My guess is there’s more acrimony to come.