The Redskins have ranged from generally disappointing to just plain bad for years now. Owner Daniel Snyder has way more money than good sense, though, so he is never less than totally willing to make a splashy gamble to get things on track.
His latest is his biggest yet: he pushed all his chips into the middle of the table to acquire the rights to draft Robert Griffin III to be the quarterback to save this franchise.
There is absolutely no question that this team needs a franchise quarterback, or that the lack of one has been a big part of their issues through the years. The last one they truly had was arguably Mark Rypien — though I am biased by the fact that he and I share a home town — and more reasonably Joe Theismann. Either way, it’s been at least 20 years of futility.
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So, is Griffin the answer? That’s the multi-million dollar question. My sense — in the long-term they are going to be very happy with the gamble, but things could be really ugly until then. I think Griffin will transition to the NFL better and faster than many think, but the team gave up so much to get him, and have so little around him, that it will take a while to get him what he needs to succeed. If he can survive that then he’ll be someone to watch for many years.
Take a rookie who doesn’t play in a prototypical NFL-style and surround whim with massive deficits in talent and things aren’t going to go well.
Griffin’s biggest offensive weapon is Pierre Garcon. Though he has been impressive at times there is a very good chance that that success was due more to the fact that Peyton Manning was throwing to him than anything else. At best it’s hard to believe that he is a No. 1 receiver for a legitimate team.
Fred Davis is a talented tight end, but he also missed four games last year thanks to a substance abuse suspension so he’s hard to trust.
Beyond that there is potential but a whole lot of questions. Santana Moss needs to prove he’s serious about playing football again. Josh Morgan is coming back from a broken leg that caused him his season last year. Leonard Hankerson is a receiver with upside, but he’s coming off hip surgery.
As if they didn’t have enough to worry about they also don’t have anything that can imitate a strong running game at this point. Roy Helu is the No. 1 — a role he wouldn’t fill on at least 25 teams in the league at this point in his career. The ground game would ideally take a lot of pressure off of Griffin, but it’s uncertain that it will be able to.
Let’s start with the positives. I like Jim Haslett as a defensive coordinator. I think the addition of Raheem Morris as defensive backs coach is a very positive one. London Fletcher is easier to cheer for than most guys in the league thanks to his heart and leadership. That, sadly, is about it.
The unit lacks big names or a whole lot of depth. there is some talent — Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo are very nice bookends for the linebacking corps — The coaching and leadership will get as much out of them as there is to get, but that’s not saying much.
The ceiling is a middle-of-the-pack finish for this defense, and they could be much worse than that.
2012 Washington Redskins Schedule Analysis
This is not the ideal schedule to break in a new quarterback. They open with two on the road. Their road schedule includes four teams that will continue to be pretty good — New Orleans, the Giants, Pittsburgh, and Dallas — and four more in the Rams, Bucs, Browns and Eagles that each have a chance to be much better than they were last year.
The home schedule is challenging, too — aside from the divisional games they host Cincinnati, Atlanta, Minnesota, Carolina, and Baltimore. There aren’t a lot of spots for the team to relax and regroup, and they have to survive nine games before their bye.
It’s a brutal schedule for a team in this position.
2012 Washington Redskins NFL Futures Odds
Bovada is no more optimistic about this team than I am. They have installed them at +900 to win the NFC East — a distant fourth in the group. They are 28-1 to win the NFC — far too high for what they offer — and 60/1 to win it all.
Betonline opened their season win total at six, and it has actually climbed to 6.5, though the “under” is heavily favored at -160 so it could easily fall back down to six again.
2012 Washington Redskins Predictions
If the Redskins were a stock I would buy them, but only to hold them for the long term. In the short term that investment isn’t going to pay any dividends.
I like the linebackers and the coaching, but the rest of the defense is suspect. The offense is seriously understaffed and will struggle mightily. The schedule does them few favors. I’d wait until the season win total drops back to six then jump on the under.
There are those people out there who argue that this team has a chance to be surprisingly competitive. I don’t see it. Anything over three wins is a victory in my eyes.
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