The 2012 NFC East champion Redskins are returning 21 of their 22 starters. The good side of this is that all of the starters know the system. They are spending their time prior to the start of the season refining techniques and chemistry, not learning the basic plays.
However, there is a possible downside to the Redskins’ stability. Their starters are now a year older than they were last year. According to ESPN blogger Mike Sando, the Redskins have the fourth-oldest starting lineup in the NFL.
Sando doesn’t give many details, just the age rankings for the 22 projected starters on offense and defense for each of the 32 teams. The Redskins are among the younger teams on offense, ranking 19th in terms of age. It is the defensive side of the ball where the Redskins, on average, are showing some age. They are the second oldest starting defense in the league.
But are the really that old? Here are the Redskins’ projected defensive starters and their ages as of today:
DE—Jarvis Jenkins, 25.1
DE—Stephen Bowen, 29.2
NT—Barry Cofield, 29.2
OLB—Brian Orakpo, 26.8
OLB—Ryan Kerrigan, 24.8
ILB—Perry Riley, 25.1
ILB—London Fletcher, 38.0
CB—DeAngelo Hall, 29.5
CB—Josh Wilson, 28.2
SS—Brandon Meriweather, 29.4
FS—Reed Doughty 30.6
That comes to an average age of 28.7 years. According to Sando, only the Steelers have an older defense.
But looking at the ages of the individual players, they only have two starters who are 30 or older. The Steelers, on the other hand, have five starters between the ages of 32 and 34. Let’s go down the list to the Bears, who are the third-oldest defense. They have four starters who are 30 and older.
When you are averaging a relatively small group it just takes one outlier to pull the mean one way or the other. London Fletcher is the oldest starter by 7.4 years. Let’s say that he had decided to retire this year and Keenan Robinson was the starter in his place. That one change would drop the average age to 27.4 years.
And it is likely that Reed Doughty, the other 30-year-old starter, is just holding the starting job temporarily until a drafted rookie is ready to take over. Let’s say that by the start of the season Phillip Thomas takes that job. That change and the hypothetical retirement of Fletcher lower the average to 26.9 years.
Sando doesn’t show the average ages, just the rankings. But he does say that the Browns and Rams are tied for having the two youngest defenses in the league at 25.3 years. At 26.9 the Redskins would probably be closer to the younger defenses around rather than the older group.
Of course, you could play “what if” with other teams’ depth charts and shake up the rankings. But it does appear that the Redskins are not as old on defense as their average might indicate.
It should be noted that being an older team is not necessarily a bad thing. Of the 10 oldest teams on both sides of the ball this year, six made the playoffs (Falcons, Texans, Redskins, Broncos, Patriots, 49ers). The Bears won 10 games, the Giants won nine and the Steelers won eight. Only the 5-11 Cardinals posted a losing record.
For reference, here are the Redskins’ starters on offense and their ages as of today:
OL—Trent Williams, 24.9
OL—Kory Lichtensteiger, 28.2
OL—Will Montgomery, 30.3
OL—Chris Chester, 30.4
OL—Tyler Polumbus 28.1
QB—Robert Griffin III, 23.3
RB—Alfred Morris, 24.5
FB—Darrel Young, 26.2
TE—Fred Davis, 27.4
WR—Pierre Garçon, 26.8
WR—Josh Morgan 28.0
The average age on offense comes to 27.1 years. The 22 starters average 27.9 years.