For many years, the news that every starter and key reserve on offense would return for the next season would draw a groan from fans. This year, the news has most of Redskins Nation doing a Tiger-eagles-to-take-the-lead-on-the-back-nine-at-the-Masters fist pump (but wearing burgundy and gold shirts instead of red ones).
When Fred Davis agreed to a one-year deal on Friday morning, the Redskins assured that from their opening day 2012 roster they will return:
—All five starting offensive linemen plus four of the top five reserves
—All three running backs
—All three tight ends
—All six wide receivers
—The top two quarterbacks
Of the 11 starters, the oldest are center Will Montgomery and right guard Chris Chester. Both of them celebrated their 30th birthdays earlier this year. The next-oldest starter, left guard Kory Lichtensteiger, just turned 28. The oldest skill position starter is wide receiver Josh Morgan, who will turn 28 in June.
When he has been on the field, Davis has been a productive tight end; the issue has been keeping him on the field. He was on a pace for 1000 receiving yards in 2011 when he lost the last four games of the season to a drug suspension. He was leading the team in receiving last year and on pace for 900 years last year before he tore his Achilles in Week 7.
The reason that the thought of a Redskins offense returning intact was not a pleasant one for so long is that they have annually been challenged when it has come to scoring points. From 2000-2011 they finished in the top half of the NFL in scoring just once, in 2005 when they were 13th. In that 12-year span they were 20th or worse in scoring 10 times.
Last year, thanks in large part to the arrival of quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins were fourth in the NFL in scoring, first in yards per play and first in total rushing yards. Griffin was pulling the trigger but a quarterback needs weapons to be effective and having Davis back will give him a reliable target.
In 2012 the Redskins had more starters miss games than all but one other NFL teams. Davis missed nine and No. 1 wide receiver Pierre Garçon missed six games and was ineffective due to injury in two others. The way it worked out, Davis and a healthy Garçon were on the field together for less than one quarter of one game. If the Redskins have reasonable luck in the injury department and can get Garçon and Davis on the field at the same time for a substantial portion of the season the Redskins’ offense could take the next step.