The Washington Redskins fans have reason for optimism as they look for improvement from the offense in the upcoming season. The campaign of 2013 was a worst case scenario played out in real life. The team’s horrific season brought the end of the Mike Shanahan era as the head coach’s relationship with star QB Robert Griffin III imploded. Compounding the difficulties on the offensive side of the ball, the Redskins pass defense was not just poor but historically bad. To top off the tire fire of a season, the special teams likewise failed to perform. With some new pieces to the roster puzzle and new Head Coach Jay Gruden leading the charge, Redskins fans once again have hopes their favorite team will contend in the NFC East. First up for review is the offense.
With the off-season sniping between RGIII’s camp and Mike Shanahan occurring before the 2013 campaign even started, the potential for a train wreck appeared evident. The hard-edged coach and competitive star could never find themselves on the same page. Starting over with a new coach is no doubt a step in the right direction for Griffin to reclaim the mojo from his rookie year. Being a former Arena League quarterback himself, Gruden understands the position. While putting his own stamp on the Redskins offense, Gruden and new offensive coordinator Sean McVay will reportedly retain many of the same West Coast schemes favored by Shanahan. While RGIII appears to be a quick study, no one wants to repeat the situation endured by former Redskins QB Jason Campbell as he was forced to contend with learning three entirely new offenses in his five-year stint with the team. Consistency breeds consistency for a young QB.
Griffin will have two new offensive weapons in his arsenal lining up at wide receiver in the form of free agents DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts. Redskins coaches believe the wideout duo will be able to consistently achieve separation from defenders, which should assist Griffin as he works to become more comfortable as a pocket passer. In all likelihood, RGIII will not be forced to thread the needle as much when throwing downfield. Pierre Garcon returns as a primary weapon. With Jackson and Roberts, and continued improvement from TE Jordan Reed, the Washington Redskins offense will still improve even if Garcon is not needed to do as much as last season.
The offensive line remains a bit of a question mark, as Kory Lichtensteiger will be shuffled from left guard to center and free agent pick up Shawn Lauvo slotted in as left guard. In the draft, the Skins selected Morgan Moses of UVA and Spencer Long of Nebraska with two picks in the third round to compete for playing time and spell the starters. Hopefully, the offensive line can perform well enough so Griffin feels more comfortable in the pocket.
The one constant in the Washington Redskins offensive framework will be workhorse running back Alfred Morris. The newly married star failed to receive the proper attention and acclaim in his stellar rookie season next to supernova RGIII. Morris is the type of hardworking, no-nonsense player that all NFL organizations crave. When everything else was falling apart last season, Morris still played well and will once again be counted upon as the primary ball carrier for the Skins. Roy Helu, Jr., Evan Royster and draft pick Lache Seastrunk will compete for the job as third down back behind Morris.
The Washington Redskins will be more productive on offense this season almost by default. Without the poisonous relationship between RGIII and the Shanahan’s, the team can concentrate on actually playing football. Dan Snyder has to be happy he could make a splash signing Jackson from the Philadelphia Eagles to add an explosiveness component the team previously lacked. If the O-line gels and Morris adds his level of consistent excellence, the offense should fare well.
Commentary by William Costolo