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.
Will Robert Griffin III enjoy a bounce back season in 2014?
The Shanahans are gone. Jay Gruden and two Pro Bowlers—DeSean Jackson and Jason Hatcher—have arrived. Depth has been bolstered across the board. But look a little closer. How much has actually changed? This team’s success (and failure) the past two seasons has been largely dependent on the fortunes of one man, Robert Griffin III. And you know what? It won’t be any different next season, either, regardless of scheme changes or free agent signings. If Griffin rebounds, he’ll carry the Redskins with him. If he doesn’t, well…
El-Bashir: As I think about Robert Griffin III’s situation, I’m finding it hard to imagine a scenario in which he doesn’t bounce back to some degree. Not only does he have a head coach he likes, Jay Gruden is the architect of the offense, the play-caller and, most important, a former quarterback who sees the game through a signal-caller's eyes. That's big, especially when you consider Griffin's damaged relationship/broken trust with the men who were in charge a year ago. And consider this: when the Redskins play at the Texans in Week 1, Griffin will be a year and eight months removed from major knee surgery. He also won’t be wearing a restrictive brace. In addition, he will have had an entire offseason to get comfortable with Gruden’s playbook, polish his footwork and mechanics and develop chemistry with his teammates. The (very) early signs are good. In an interview with USA Today, quarterback guru Terry Shea said after working with Griffin last month, “He looked 100-percent healthy. …he reminded me of the old Robert Griffin that I knew coming out of Baylor.” Physically, Griffin is in a much better place. Mentally, too. That, combined with better talent around him, should allow him to recapture his 2012 form.
Tandler: We knew things weren’t quite right with Griffin last year when his third pass attempt of the season was thrown downfield into a group of three Eagle defenders and was picked off. Although he has some good moments during the year—late touchdown drives to beat the Chargers and Bears come to mind—he was never the same player who won rookie of the year honors in 2012. Was the knee injury hampering him physically? Was it the fact that defense knew what to look for from him? Had his relationship with Mike and Kyle Shanahan deteriorated to the point where the season was just doomed to failure? Those were factors but the biggest issue was that he had to spend his offseason rehabbing his injury and not advancing his game on the practice field. This year he gets the offseason program, the OTAs, extra practice sessions in Arizona and other off-site locations, minicamps, training camp, and three preseason games to learn Jay Gruden’s offense and to connect with his teammates. If practice makes perfect, he should be a much better player in 2014 than he was with very limited practice time last year.
- 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?
- April 22: Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- April 22: Will special teams improve?
- April 23: Who will assume London Fletcher’s leadership role?
- April 24: Is there enough depth on the offensive line?
- April 25: Is David Amerson ready to start?
- April 26: Who will start at safety?
- April 27: Can Pierre Garçon repeat his 2013 production?
- Yesterday: Will DeSean Jackson boom or bust in DC?
- Today: Will RG3 bounce back?