Redskins roster analysis: Offense

Redskins roster analysis: Offense
September 1, 2013, 10:30 am
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Pat White makes 53-man roster

The Redskins cut their roster to 53 players yesterday. We took a look at the players who are gone, now let’s examine the players who are here.

Rich Tandler takes a look at the who survived on offense here; later today, Tarik El-Bashir puts the defensive roster under the microscope.

Quarterbacks (4): Starter, Robert Griffin III; backups Kirk Cousins, Rex Grossman Pat White.

—Strengths: Griffin gives the Redskins a chance to win every time he takes the field. Cousins could be the best No. 2 QB in the league and Grossman’s experience makes him a solid third. White may not be around for the long haul but for right now he’s an intriguing project.

—Weaknesses: Griffin’s recovery from his knee injury has been remarkable but the situation must be viewed with eyes wide open. He could be rusty to start and he will always be one ill-directed hit away from a third major knee injury.

—In summary: For so many years a weakness on this team, the Redskins have one of the best quarterback situations in the league.

Running backs (5): Starters Alfred Morris, Darrel Young; backups Roy Helu Jr., Chris Thompson, Evan Royster

—Strengths: Morris is one of the top backs in the league; you can put him down for 1400 yards and quite possibly more, maybe a lot more, right now. Helu provides proven big play ability behind him and Thompson has that potential.

—Weaknesses: If Morris were to miss an extended period of time there is nobody with the proven ability to be a workhorse running back. Thompson might not handle the ball much but when he does he will have to remember his two fumbles during the preseason; defenders will and will attack the ball when he has it.

—In summary: How will Mike and Kyle Shanahan distribute the “extra” carries that should come by reducing Griffin’s carries from the 120 he had last year? It might be unwise to hand the ball off to Morris more often than they did last year (335). Will they give Helu and Thompson shots at making game-changing plays and give Royster some work in relief of Morris? If they can figure out how to maximize the potential of this group of backs, the running attack that led the NFL in 2012 could become explosive.

Wide receivers (5): Starters Pierre Garçon, Joshua Morgan; backups Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, Aldrick Robinson

—Strengths: It’s a balanced group as all but Robinson gained at least 500 yards receiving last year. Garçon might be the perfect weapon in the Kyle Shanahan offense with his ability to run after the catch. Morgan is healthy this year after having seven screws removed from his foot in the offseason and if his speed is back he can be a deep thread with YAC ability as well. Moss has found his fountain of youth with the perfect role as the slot receiver.

—Weaknesses: Mike Shanahan spoke of wanting third-year receivers Hankerson and Robinson to develop more consistency and they remain works in progress. Garçon made it through training camp unscathed in the injury department but there has to be lingering concern about the toe injury that cost him six games last year.

—In summary: If Garçon stays healthy and can take some defensive attention away from others this could be a good, not great, group of receivers.

Tight end (4): Starter Fred Davis; backups Logan Paulsen, Niles Paul, Jordan Reed

—Strengths: The group is so versatile that it allowed the Redskins to go into the season with just five wide receivers on the roster. Davis has superb athleticism and speed, Paulsen is good a blocker as there is at the position, Paul can create a matchup nightmare with his wide receiver speed and Reed can be a wild card with big-play ability.

—Weaknesses: There isn’t a lot of proven production here. Davis has been “on pace” to put up good numbers in each of the last two seasons before he went out with a drug suspension and a torn Achilles. Paulsen caught just 20 passes in eight starts after taking over for Davis last year. Paul’s hands are suspect and Reed is just a rookie third-round pick.

—In summary: This group could drive defenses crazy, especially if any two of them are in the game at the same time. But this coaching staff has yet to show that it can figure out how to effectively utilize multiple tight ends (see days of Cooley and Davis in their primes) so we will have to see. Stay tuned.

Offensive line (8): Starters Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester, Tyler Polumbus; reserves Tom Compton, Josh LeRibeus, Adam Gettis

—Strengths: Besides having one of the best left tackles in the game in Williams, continuity is the strong point there. They all started all 16 games except for Polumbus, who missed one start. Although none of the four besides Williams is considered to be a stud, the team did manage to lead the NFL in yards per play and in rushing yards so they must have been doing something right.

—Weaknesses: Here are concerns about Polumbus’ ability in pass protection and the team is hoping that he will improve in his second year at right tackle. Also, the backups are very inexperienced. LeRibeus was passable at left guard in two games towards the end of the season but Gettis and Compton have never taken an NFL snap. It’s good to keep your draft picks and give them important roles and the Redskins will just have to hope that they drafted and developed well if there is an injury problem.

—In summary: No Pro Bowl invites will come to anyone except Williams even if the team does well but that won’t bother anyone around the Redskins if the unit can do what it did last year.