2012 Record: 10-6

2012 Downfall

Scoreless in Last 3 Quarters

First, it was a four-yard strike to Evan Royster for six on the opening drive. Then Seattle went three and out. 54 yards later, Logan Paulsen caught his own four-yard touchdown via RGIII. Up 14-0 with 2:26 left in the first, how could Washington know it was all downhill from there?

The rest of the way, Washington wouldn't score a single point, losing 24-14 to the Seahawks, thus earning the distinction of being the only home team to lose during Wild Card weekend. The Redskins found themselves sputtering even before Robert Griffin III injured his knee.

After going 3 for 3 on third downs on those two touchdown drives, the Redskins went 2 for 8 the rest of the way. Of their final eight drives, the Redskins failed to gain more than 23 yards on any of them. In the final three quarters, RGIII went 4 for 10 for just 16 yards passing.

Lynch Crushes Run Defense

The Redskins' average run defense gave up 4.2 YPA during the regular season, so they knew all too well the punishment that a solid running attack (like the one doled out by Alfred Morris and RGIII) can inflict. Seattle was just the team to exploit that.

Marshawn Lynch has a history of turning on "Beast Mode" in the Wild Card round, and he brought the pain to DC. Lynch ran for 132 yards on 20 carries, good for a 6.6 YPA average. He scored his lone touchdown early in the fourth on a 27 yard beeline.

Lynch provided six of the Seahawks 12 rushing first downs, and busted off four runs of 15 yards or more. Two of them notched 26 and 27 yards. 99 of Lynch's yards came in the second half, which includes all four of the major runs.

2013 Projected Wins: 9

Top 3 Rookies

-David Amerson, CB (2/51): A defense that gave up 31 touchdown passes gains this tall corner with a predilection for press coverage, which makes up for the elite speed he lacks.

-Jordan Reed, TE (3/85): Undersized tight end won't help much as a blocker, but serves as a more agile fullback that can make plays over the middle.

-Phillip Thomas, S (4/119): Makes instinctive reads before the pass is thrown, and has had success covering slot receivers, but has been known to get burned on bad guesses.

Other Moves

After experiencing great offensive line continuity that led to Griffin and Morris combining for over 2400 yards, it was essential that the continuity remain in tact. And so it made sense for Tyler Polumbus and Kory Lichtensteiger to receive brand new contracts.

The Redskins, like many rising teams, are trying to keep the core in tact, and have re-signed a number of last year's players. Fred Davis is back on a one year deal, while DeAngelo Hall was re-signed, three weeks after the Redskins outright released him.

Coming in from the outside, veteran defensive end Darryl Tapp jumps ship from the Eagles after being used mostly as a situational player. Cornerback EJ Biggers comes over from Tampa Bay, after starting 12 games and deflecting seven passes last season.

Potential Starting Lineup

QB - Robert Griffin III
RB - Alfred Morris
FB - Darrel Young
WR - Josh Morgan
WR - Pierre Garcon
TE - Fred Davis
LT - Trent Williams
LG - Kory Lichtensteiger
C - Will Montgomery
RG - Chris Chester
RT - Tyler Polumbus

DE - Jarvis Jenkins
NT - Barry Cofield
DE - Stephen Bowen
OLB - Ryan Kerrigan
ILB - London Fletcher
ILB - Perry Riley
OLB - Brian Orakpo
CB - Josh Wilson
CB - DeAngelo Hall
FS - Reed Doughty
SS - Brandon Meriweather

K - Kai Forbath
P - Sav Rocca
LS - Nick Sundberg

2013 at a Glance

When RGIII sunk to the grass at FedEx Field on that unseasonably warm January afternoon, the hearts of Redskins hailers too sunk. Their 2012 season, they probably figured, was as doomed as Griffin's mangled knee, but would 2013 (and beyond) be in doubt as well?

Despite the torn LCL and ACLs, Griffin has shown a miraculous recovery. He's thrown at voluntary practices, while getting his footwork back in order. He's even gotten in some sprinting, showing lots of faith in his recovery. It seems as though he's all but a lock to play week one on Monday Night Football.

Controversy has clouded Mike Shanahan, who remains adamant that he would have removed Griffin from that playoff game had he known the severity of the ailing knee. In addition, Shanahan also deflected charges that he put Griffin back into a week 15 game without allowing the world-renowned Dr. James Andrews, present at the game, to inspect his quarterback.

Regardless, it appears Griffin will be good to go long-term. Also, if nothing else, Shanahan will probably be more careful with the franchise star after experiencing this figurative stake-burning from critics.

Griffin's arm and legs accounted for 65 percent of the Redskins offense, en route to his Rookie of the Year season. If he goes down again, especially early in the season, Kirk Cousins and Rex Grossman have a lot to make up for.

Morris also knows a lot about picking up slack. The rookie had 335 carries last season, third most behind Arian Foster and Adrian Peterson. If nothing else, the success of both rookie stars can be partially attributed to a healthy and consistent offensive line. Of the starters, only Polumbus missed a game last year. And that was it: one single game.

Jim Haslett had the worst third-down defense in the league last season, allowing 44.2 percent of trespassers through on the 'money-down'.

His defense was also wrought with injuries. Meriweather missed most of the year, debuted in November, and tore his ACL one game back. Both Orakpo and Adam Carriker suffered season-ending injuries in week two.

Haslett's 3-4 scheme requires versatility from its linebackers. Losing Orakpo and Carriker (who combined for 14.5 sacks and three forced fumbles in 2011) weakened the depth of his core group, asking for more out of the ageless Fletcher and rock-solid Kerrigan.

With everyone healthy, as well as the defensive additions in the draft, it's a clean slate for the defense to do right by the fundamental Haslett.


Can Griffin and Morris duplicate their success from 2012? There aren't many teams that could have anticipated their whirlwind of a year, but with a whole offseason to study their one-two punch, maybe their blazing fast brand of offense doesn't pack the same pop.

It's not an easy schedule; by being divison winners, their grand prize includes trips to Green Bay and San Francisco, along with a visit by the scorned Falcons. A flight to Denver is also on the itinerary. The Redskins will still be solid, but there's the problem: their foes are anticipating them to be.

Prediction: 9-7