2012 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 5-11)

2012 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
WR Pierre Garcon, WR Josh Morgan, ILB Jonathan Goff, CB Cedric Griffin, S Tanard Jackson, S Brandon Meriweather, K Neil Rackers.
Early Draft Picks:
QB Robert Griffin, G Josh LeRibeus, QB Kirk Cousins, ILB Keenan Robinson.
Offseason Losses:
WR Jabar Gaffney, WR Donte’ Stallworth, DE/DT Kedric Golston, OLB Rocky McIntosh, SS LaRon Landry, FS O.J. Atogwe.

2012 Washington Redskins Offense:
It’s mind-boggling that some people thought the Redskins gave up way too much in the Robert Griffin deal. If anything, they didn’t surrender nearly enough. A franchise quarterback is worth more than just two first-round picks, a second-rounder and the swap of Nos. 2 and 6 overall. Sure, Washington won’t be selecting in the first round until 2015 (barring a trade), but who cares about picking in the 20s (or 30s) when coming off a long postseason run? It’s better than having a top-10 selection almost every year.

Griffin is completely legitimate. Some non-observers will cite that he’s just a running quarterback and none of his kind have won a Super Bowl. But Griffin is so much more than that. He has great passing skills and a high football I.Q. He’ll have to endure early struggles like most young signal-callers do, but he has the potential to lead the Redskins to multiple Super Bowls.

While obtaining Griffin was a great move, the Redskins were guilty of a couple of dubious decisions this offseason, which is pretty much the norm for that front office. For instance, the organization spent way too much money on Pierre Garcon (5 years, $42.5 million). Garcon is a nice deep threat, but he drops too many passes and struggles with route running. He and Griffin will connect on several beautiful deep bombs, but the former Colt wideout will also infuriate his quarterback and coaching staff with numerous blunders.

The Redskins also acquired Josh Morgan for a ridiculous two years and $11.5 million. That was even more puzzling than Garcon because Morgan doesn’t figure to be a factor on offense. Santana Moss is healthy again and will serve as Griffin’s safety valve. Leonard Hankerson, a second-year wideout who has much more upside than Morgan, will likely be the starter across from Garcon. Hankerson started to show flashes in 2011, catching eight balls for 106 yards in a November game against the Dolphins. Unfortunately, he suffered a season-ending hip injury in that contest. Meanwhile, the two tight ends (Fred Davis, Chris Cooley) figure to be on the field a lot. Davis is an emerging star, so Griffin will probably utilize him heavily.

Washington ran the ball really well last year, so Griffin’s presence will only bolster that aspect of its offense. Roy Helu, taking over for an injured Tim Hightower, rushed for 640 yards on a 4.2 yards-per-carry average. He also caught 49 passes, though 14 of his receptions came in an ugly game in which a craven John Beck ceaselessly checked it down to him. Meanwhile, fellow rookie Evan Royster held a 5.9 YPC figure when Helu himself went down late in the year. All three backs are still on the roster and figure to share the workload, assuming Hightower can recover from his torn ACL.

Continuity is key for an offensive line, so it’s a good thing that Griffin and his running backs will be playing behind a front returning all five starters. Some of them have to improve some aspects of their game, however. Left tackle Trent “Silverback” Williams blocked well last season, but he committed way too many penalties (8). He also has to refrain from smoking weed; he was suspended for the final four games of 2011, so if he’s caught again, he’ll be slapped with a year-long ban.

Williams will start next to left guard Kory Lichtensteiger and center Will Montgomery. The former played well last year prior to tearing his ACL in October. He has yet to be cleared to practice fully, as of this writing. Montgomery did a decent job; he didn’t miss a single snap.

Right tackle Jammal Brown and right guard Chris Chester were the weak links of the offensive line last year. Brown, who surrendered nine sacks, dealt with numerous injuries in 2011, but that was nothing new. He’s been working hard this offseason to stay healthy, so maybe it’ll pay off. Chester is still starting only because the front office gave him $20 million last summer – another instance in which the Redskins overpaid for a pedestrian player. Third-round rookie Josh LeRibeus will challenge him in camp.

2012 Washington Redskins Defense:
The Redskins were mediocre or worse in almost every defensive category last year. The one aspect of their defense that was above average, however, was the pass rush, which tied for 12th with 41 sacks.

It’s pretty easy to understand why Washington was able to get to the quarterback quite easily. Brian Orakpo and rookie Ryan Kerrigan notched nine and 7.5 sacks, respectively, which was pretty impressive considering the Redskins didn’t hold leads that often. Depending on how well Griffin plays in his first year, both Orakpo and Kerrigan could top double digits. The one caveat is that they have to stay healthy, as Washington has zero depth behind them at rush linebacker.

The Redskins also lacked depth at inside linebacker last season, but that has changed. London Fletcher and Perry Riley have returned as starters, but now they have former Giant Jonathan Goff and fourth-round rookie Keenan Robinson in reserve. Fletcher is amazing; despite being extremely old for a football player (37), he continuously shines on the field. His skills could erode at any moment, but he’ll be a key locker-room leader at the very worst. On the other side of the spectrum, Riley stepped in as a second-year player last season, displacing the ineffective Rocky McIntosh, who for some reason never has quite understood that he should be playing in a 4-3. Riley excelled in run support and played all three downs.

While Washington’s linebackers did a good job of putting pressure on opposing passers, the linemen up front struggled in that aspect, save for defensive end Stephen Bowen, who registered six sacks. Adam Carriker had 5.5 of his own, but lucked into most of his. Carriker did not play well at all last year; he was a major liability in run support. The front office foolishly gave him a 4-year, $20 million this spring, thus making it unlikely that 2011 second-rounder Jarvis Jenkins will be able to supplant him in the near future. Nose tackle Barry Cofield, meanwhile, was simply mediocre. He wasn’t particularly good at holding his own against the rush either.

The secondary was the worst part of the defense. Washington’s safety play was just horrid last year, as LaRon Landry was always hurt, while Reed Doughty was constantly torched. The Redskins acquired two new safeties, but there’s no guarantee that they’ll be an upgrade over their predecessors. Brandon Meriweather is a pretty pedestrian player, as Bears fans can claim. Tanard Jackson, meanwhile, has talent, but he’s a trouble-maker and an underachiever.

The Redskins’ cornerback performance was only better by default in 2011. Josh Wilson did a decent job, but the overrated DeAngelo Hall surrendered five touchdowns and a hideous completion percentage of 67.0. He’ll start again because of his massive salary (notice a theme?) but Washington did, at least, upgrade the nickel position with former Viking Cedric Griffin, who can play well when he’s healthy, which unfortunately, is a rarity.

2010 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
Brandon Banks is a good return specialist. He didn’t score a touchdown last year, but he was solely responsible for the Redskins outgaining their opponents on punts and kickoffs.

Neil Rackers has nailed 90 and 84.2 percent of his field goals the past two seasons, but he’s now with the Redskins, where he won’t be playing in a dome for the first time in years. Graham Gano (31-of-41 in 2011) will compete for the job.

Sav Rocca isn’t a very good punter. He maintained a pedestrian 43.1 average with 28-of-66 tries placed inside the 20.

The Redskins have six tough matchups within the NFC East. The non-divisional slate, meanwhile, is pretty balanced. They have tough contests against the Saints (road), Falcons (home), Steelers (road), Panthers (home) and Ravens (home), but they also can beat up on the Rams (road), Buccaneers (road), Vikings (home) and Browns (road).

2012 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2012 Washington Redskins Analysis: Every spring, Daniel Snyder sits upon his throne, dons a crown and proclaims himself the King of the Offseason. Casual fans and blind media people praise his spending and predict that these new signings will work, and this is “the year” that Washington will crawl out of the NFC East cellar.

And every year, it’s the same. Or at least it was. Robert Griffin changes everything. He may not be able to lead the Redskins to the playoffs in 2012, but the future is awfully bright. It’ll be a major upset if he doesn’t begin engineering long postseason runs beginning in 2014, if not earlier.

Projection: 8-8 (4th in NFC East)

2012 Fantasy Football Rankings

More 2012 NFL Season Previews


2012 NFL Draft Grade: B

Goals Entering the 2012 NFL Draft: Robert Griffin will the choice at No. 2, so Washington needs to provide him with a target and protection. The Redskins have the personnel to contend for a playoff spot with quality quarterbacking, so they must do everything in their power to make Griffin’s transition to the NFL as smooth as possible. The secondary must also be addressed.

2012 NFL Draft Accomplishments: The Redskins didn’t obtain a target for Griffin. They didn’t address their secondary until the seventh round either. What they did do was beef up their offensive line. Josh LeRibeus was a reach, but the Adam Gettis and Tom Compton selections made up for it. As I wrote below, if the three linemen pan out, Griffin may never be sacked.

The Kirk Cousins choice really bothers me. What the hell was the point of it? Mid-round quarterbacks are a dime a dozen, so if Mike Shanahan really wanted a developmental project, he could have obtained one in 2013 or 2014. Griffin, as a rookie, will need as much help as he can get. Why not use that selection on a running back, receiver or a corner?

2012 NFL Draft Individual Grades:

2. Robert Griffin, QB, Baylor: A Grade
I said it in my 2012 NFL Mock Draft and I’ll say it again – Robert Griffin is worth every bit of those three first-round picks Washington surrendered in order to swap the Nos. 6 and 2 picks with the Rams. I’m usually against moving up, but not if it involves landing a franchise quarterback. I have a difficult time seeing Griffin bust because of his talent, athleticism and intelligence, so the Redskins should be a force in the NFC East for the next 10-15 years. I doubt the Washington fans will mind not picking in the 20s (or 30s) in the 2014 NFL Draft after watching their team make a playoff run.

71. Josh LeRibeus, G, SMU: D Grade
This is a reach. Josh LeRibeus was No. 140 on the consensus board, and no one had him above 90. He does fill a need, however, and the Redskins needed to find Robert Griffin some help.

102. Kirk Cousins, QB, Michigan State: D Grade
Ugh, what the hell is the point of this pick? Kirk Cousins can become a good backup eventually, but the Redskins would have been better served finding some weapons for Robert Griffin.

119. Keenan Robinson, ILB, Texas: B+ Grade
London Fletcher’s successor? Keenan Robinson fits the range in the middle of Round 4. Fletcher, despite popular belief, can’t play until the end of time. Washington will need someone to take over in a year or two beside Perry Riley.

141. Adam Gettis, G, Iowa: B- Grade
This is a slight reach, but I like that the Redskins are making an effort to improve the offensive line in front of Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins. Adam Gettis fits perfectly in Mike Shanahan’s blocking scheme. Oh, and it’s also hard to hate any pick used on an Iowa lineman.

173. Alfred Morris, RB, Florida Atlantic: C+ Grade
You can’t question a Mike Shanahan late-round running back pick. Alfred Morris has some good running ability, but he’s guilty of fumbling a lot. The Redskins needed to find a running back because Tim Hightower is a free agent.

193. Tom Compton, OT, South Dakota: A Grade
Another lineman? If these guys pan out, Robert Griffin may never be sacked, given his scrambling ability. Tom Compton is a really nice value pick; he was a Round 4-5 prospect enterting the weekend.

213. Richard Crawford, CB, SMU: C Grade
It’s really surprising that the Redskins waited this long to address their secondary. There were better defensive backs available.

217. Jordan Bernstine, S, Iowa: B- Grade
More secondary help, so no surprise here. Jordan Bernstine was a fringe draftable prospect, so this pick makes sense.

Season Summary:
The Redskins haven’t won more than 10 games in a season since 1991. Their quarterbacks have been mediocre at best since then, which would explain their lack of success. Washington will have a chance to acquire Peyton Manning or Robert Griffin this offseason, so the franchise will finally have an opportunity to turn things around.

Offseason Moves:
  • Rams sign OLB Rocky McIntosh
  • Redskins re-sign RB Tim Hightower
  • Texans sign QB John Beck
  • Patriots sign WR Jabar Gaffney
  • Redskins cut WR Jabar Gaffney
  • Redskins sign ILB Jonathan Goff
  • Redskins cut QB John Beck
  • Redskins sign K Neil Rackers
  • Redskins re-sign DE/OLB Chris Wilson
  • Redskins sign LB Bryan Kehl
  • Redskins re-sign ILB London Fletcher
  • Redskins sign S Tanard Jackson
  • Redskins sign CB Leigh Torrence
  • Redskins sign S Madieu Williams
  • Redskins sign OT James Lee
  • Redskins re-sign DE/DT Kedric Golston
  • Redskins re-sign G Kory Lichtensteiger
  • Patriots sign WR Donte’ Stallworth
  • Jets sign SS LaRon Landry
  • Redskins re-sign QB Rex Grossman
  • Redskins re-sign TE Fred Davis
  • Redskins sign CB Cedric Griffin
  • Redskins sign S Brandon Meriweather
  • Redskins sign WR Pierre Garcon
  • Redskins sign WR Josh Morgan
  • Redskins re-sign DE/DT Adam Carriker
  • Redskins cut FS O.J. Atogwe
  • Redskins cut FB Mike Sellers
  • Redskins tender K Graham Gano
  • Redskins re-sign C Will Montgomery

    Offseason Needs:
    1. Quarterback: As mentioned in the season summary, the Redskins haven’t had anything better than mediocre quarterbacking since the early 90s. Peyton Manning and Robert Griffin will probably be available this offseason. Washington cannot go into the 2012 season with Rex Grossman as the starter. Drafted Robert Griffin and Kirk Cousins; re-signed Rex Grossman

    2. Wide Receiver: The Redskins have some young wideouts on the roster. Santana Moss is still there as well. None of them, however, is a legitimate No. 1 weapon. Washington will be searching for one this offseason. Signed Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan

    3. Two Safeties: LaRon Landry is yet another Washington free agent that Daniel Snyder will need to keep. O.J. Atogwe was cut. Signed Tanard Jackson, Brandon Meriweather and Madieu Williams

    4. Left Guard: Kory Lichtensteiger played well in 2011, but tore his ACL and MCL. There’s no guarantee he’ll be anywhere close to 100 percent this year. Drafted Josh LeRibeus

    5. Inside Linebacker Depth: London Fletcher continues to get the job done, while Perry Riley was really good in replacing the ineffective Rocky McIntosh. McIntosh is as good as gone though, so Washington will need depth, as well as a successor for Fletcher. Re-signed London Fletcher; signed Jonathan Goff and Bryan Kehl; drafted Keenan Robinson

    6. Right Tackle: Washington should look into adding an insurance policy at right tackle because Jammal Brown can’t seem to get healthy. His hip injury just won’t go away. Signed James Lee

    7. Cornerback Depth: The Redskins don’t really have anything behind DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson. Nickel Kevin Barnes struggled in 2011. Signed Cedric Griffin and Leigh Torrence

    8. Nose Tackle: Barry Cofield wasn’t bad at nose tackle by any means, but he would probably be a better fit at defensive end. It’ll be difficult for the Redskins to find any sort of upgrade, however.

    9. Tight End: Fred Davis is a free agent who will need to be re-signed because Chris Cooley is too unreliable at this point of his career. Re-signed Fred Davis

    10. Center: Will Montgomery had an OK 2011 campaign, but he’s another free agent who will have to be retained. Re-signed Will Montgomery

    11. Rush Linebacker Depth: If either Ryan Kerrigan or Brian Orakpo goes down, the Redskins won’t have much of a pass rush. Signed Chris Wilson

    2012 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Neil Rackers, K, Texans. Age: 36.
      Signed with Redskins (1 year)

      Neil Rackers’ field-goal percentages over the past four years: 89.3, 94.1, 90.0 and 84.2. He’s 7-of-9 from 50-plus in the previous two seasons. Only his age (36) is a concern.

    2. Pierre Garcon, WR, Colts. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins

      Pierre Garcon is fast, but is also unreliable because he drops too many passes. Still, he had some big games with Curtis Painter and Dan Orlovsky at quarterback, so teams know he’s not just a product of the system.

    3. Tanard Jackson, S, Buccaneers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins

      Tanard Jackson was considered to be one of the NFL’s top up-and-coming safeties prior to his season-long suspension in 2010. He returned to the lineup last year, but really struggled. He’s still young and talented, so maybe he can revert to 2009 form with good coaching.

    4. Jonathan Goff, ILB, Giants. Age: 26.
      Signed with Redskins

      Jonathan Goff did a solid job as New York’s inside linebacker in 2010, but he missed the entire 2011 campaign with a torn ACL.

    5. Josh Morgan, WR, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins (5 years, $12 million; $7.5 million guaranteed)

      Josh Morgan looked like he was on his way to having a solid year, catching 15 balls for 220 yards in five games, but he went on injured reserve with a broken leg.

    6. Cedric Griffin, CB, Vikings. Age: 29. — Signed with Redskins (1 year, $2.5 million)
    7. Brandon Meriweather, S, Bears. Age: 28. — Signed with Redskins (2 years, $6 million)
    8. Madieu Williams, FS, 49ers. Age: 30. — Signed with Redskins
    9. Bryan Kehl, OLB, Rams. Age: 28. — Signed with Redskins
    10. James Lee, OT, Buccaneers. Age: 27. — Signed with Redskins
    11. Leigh Torrence, CB, Saints. Age: 30. — Signed with Redskins

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Fred Davis, TE, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year, $5.416 million)

      Fred Davis caught 59 balls for 796 yards and three touchdowns in 2011. He’s a really skilled tight end, but the downside is that one more suspension for substance abuse will result in a season-long suspension.

    2. London Fletcher, ILB, Redskins. Age: 37.
      Re-signed with Redskins

      London Fletcher amazingly just keeps getting it done. He played on a really high level last year despite being 36. The Redskins absolutely need to re-sign him.

    3. LaRon Landry, SS, Redskins. Age: 27.
      Signed with Jets (1 year, $4 million)

      LaRon Landry would be ranked much higher than this if he weren’t so injury-prone. Landry has played in just 17 games the past two years. He could miss some more time next season because of an Achilles injury (not torn).

    4. Rocky McIntosh, OLB, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Signed with Rams

      I called Rocky McIntosh an idiot for re-signing with the Redskins last offseason. He’s not a good fit in the 3-4. I don’t get how he didn’t understand that. Maybe he’ll learn his lesson and sign on with a 4-3 team.

    5. Will Montgomery, C/G, Redskins. Age: 29.
      Re-signed with Redskins (4 years)

      Will Montgomery is a good fit in Mike Shanahan’s scheme as a lineman who can play guard and center. He’s worth more to the Redskins than most other teams, so he should re-sign with them.

    6. Graham Gano (RFA), K, Redskins. Age: 25.
      Tendered by Redskins

      Who knows if Graham Gano would have hit the five kicks that were blocked in 2011? He was at least reliable otherwise last season.

    7. Tim Hightower, RB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)

      Tim Hightower is a pretty mediocre running back with solid receiving skills, but he’s coming off a torn ACL.

    8. O.J. Atogwe, FS, Redskins. Age: 31.
      Signed with Eagles (1 year)

      O.J. Atogwe still would be a decent safety if he could stay healthy, but that has been really difficult for him over the past couple of years.

    9. Rex Grossman, QB, Redskins. Age: 32.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)

      Rex Grossman has proven himself as a capable backup quarterback, but he commits too many turnovers to be a starter.

    10. Adam Carriker, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Re-signed with Redskins (4 years, $20 million)

      Adam Carriker can be a solid rotational player in a 3-4 front, but he shouldn’t be a starter going forward.

    11. Kory Lichtensteiger, G, Redskins. Age: 27.
      Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)

      Kory Lichtensteiger played well in Mike Shanahan’s zone-blocking scheme last year, but tore his ACL and MCL in mid-October.

    12. Jabar Gaffney, WR, Redskins. Age: 31. — Signed with Patriots (2 years)
    13. Donte’ Stallworth, WR, Redskins. Age: 31. — Signed with Patriots
    14. Kedric Golston, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 29. — Re-signed with Redskins
    15. Keyaron Fox, ST, Redskins. Age: 30.
    16. Byron Westbrook (RFA), CB, Redskins. Age: 27.
    17. John Beck, QB, Redskins. Age: 31. — Signed with Texans
    18. Mike Sellers, FB, Redskins. Age: 37.

    2012 NFL Free Agent Rankings Coming Soon

    Divisional Rival History:
    Dallas Cowboys: The Cowboys have won 11 of the last 14 meetings, but Dallas-Washington games tend to be close regardless; 12 of the last 16 matchups have been decided by six points or fewer.
    New York Giants: New York used to dominate this NFC East rivalry, having won the past six meetings prior to 2011. The Redskins swept last year.
    Philadelphia Eagles: Philadelphia has claimed the past three matchups.

    Features to be Posted This Offseason:
    1. 2012 NFL Draft Grades (Pick-by-Pick NFL Draft Grades as well – Live on Draft Day!)
    2. Detailed season preview
    3. Fantasy football projections
    4. Positional rankings
    5. Daily updates on free-agent signings

    More 2011 NFL Offseason Pages:

    DAL / NYG / PHI / WAS /
    CHI / DET / GB / MIN /
    ATL / CAR / NO / TB /
    ARZ / SEA / SF / STL /
    BUF / MIA / NE / NYJ /
    BAL / CIN / CLE / PIT /
    HOU / IND / JAX / TEN /
    DEN / KC / OAK / SD /

    2012 NFL Offseason Pages

    Fantasy Football Rankings - May 23

    2025 NFL Mock Draft - May 21

    NFL Power Rankings - Feb. 22

    NFL Picks - Feb. 12