The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Who will assume London Fletcher’s leadership role?
When Robert Griffin III arrived in Ashburn in 2012, the rookie quarterback found his locker stall right next to London Fletcher’s. Why? Team officials wanted Griffin to learn from the unquestioned leader of the locker room, the heart and soul of the Redskins. Lessons such as: what to say to teammates and when to say it; how to answer questions from the media; how to lead vocally but, just as important, how to lead without saying a word. Since 2007, that was Fletcher’s job. Now that he’s retired, there’s a sizable and significant void that must be filled.
El-Bashir: I don’t think a single player will immediately step into Fletcher’s role. It’s simply too big. Instead, I suspect it’ll be leadership-by-committee. On offense, unit captains Robert Griffin III and Trent Williams are my picks. RG3 must prove himself on the field and be a uniting force in the locker room, particularly given how things unraveled last season. Gathering the team’s skilled players for a passing camp in Arizona this offseason was a good start. On defense, I anticipate DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Clark and Barry Cofield will take the reigns. Despite his reputation as ‘MeAngelo,’ Hall has evolved into a leader and last season took particular interest in mentoring young players like David Amerson. Clark, who turns 35, in October is the elder statesman. Cofield, meantime, is your prototypical lead-by-example type, playing through the whistle (even when hurt) on each and every play.
Tandler: There is one position on each side of the ball that demands that whoever plays it is a team leader. One, of course, is quarterback. It seems like Griffin is in pretty good shape there. Tarik mentioned the QB camp last month and his teammates have said that he has been leading the way during the conditioning drills the last couple of weeks. And his teammates voted him a captain during his rookie year. The other position that demands leadership is the Mike linebacker spot. That was Fletcher’s old spot; now it belongs to Perry Riley. The Mike has to call defensive signals, change them when necessary, and help get players lined up right. Some leadership skills are required to get that done. That doesn’t mean that Riley has to be the guy in the middle of the pregame huddles firing up the crew. But he does need to be the guy who leads by example and becomes a coach on the field, an extension of Jim Haslett. It will be interesting to see how Riley, who is very sharp and well liked by all but somewhat camera shy, grows into the role.
- April 10: Who from the draft class of 2011 will step up?
- April 11: Who will claim the punter position?
- April 12: What 2013 draft pick will emerge to play a key role?
- April 13: Will Brian Orakpo take the next step?
- April 14: Will Jordan Reed have a Pro Bowl season?
- April 15: Will the Haslett without handcuffs scheme work?
- April 16: Who will start on the offensive line?
- April 17: What will Jay Gruden’s offense look like?
- April 18: What effect will Jackson have on the rest of the receivers?
- April 19: How much better will the pass rush be with Jason Hatcher?
- April 20: Who will replace London Fletcher at inside linebacker?
- Yesterday: Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- Yesterday: Will special teams improve?
- Today: Who will assume London Fletcher’s leadership role?
- Tomorrow: Is there enough depth on the offensive line?
- Friday: Is David Amerson ready to start?