NFC East: Here Come the Redskins

Mike Shanahan and Daniel Snyder with QB Robert Griffin III (Washington Post)


From Frank DeGennaro / GFB Contributor

If you have turned on any football analysis show or read any sports page this year, you’ll find out that the NFL season truly never ends. After the 4 preseason games, the 17 weeks of the season, the post season, the mediocre pee-wee game known as the Pro Bowl, and the Superbowl, one may think a much needed rest is in store.

Well I’m sorry folks, but you can’t put your face paint and beer bellies away just yet. This reason is that if your favorite team wants to have any shot in the postseason, the offseason is where you must start that rebuilding (or reloading amirite?) process.

Now I realize all of you have a life and one of those jobs I hear my parents yell at me about all the time, so watching and reading NFL news to the point of nausea is not in your “Things to do” list. Well as a 22 year old college graduate with a love for the back workings of football and a pretty successful Madden Franchise, I think I can be of assistance.

What I have done is made a breakdown of the major offseason moves that the NFC East has made and how they will affect the New York Giants offensive (passing game) and defensive (pass rush) strengths. This will not be a database of every move because most people don’t care that the Cowboys released kicker David Buehler, besides maybe David Buehler. However, if you love lists and breakdowns as much as I, then this is right up your alley.

We will start off with the Redskins. It seemed that the only team the Skins actually had success against was the Giants. However, they have made some big splashes trying to strengthen their passing game. Seeing as it’s almost a sure bet that Robert Griffin III will fall to them with the second pick, focusing on the passing game is a good first move. Here’s what they’ve done already:

The Moves

February 27—The signing of center Will Montgomery to a 4 year deal worth $12 million.
Why this matters: Montgomery is a versatile O-lineman playing both guard positions and center in his career. He’s started 29 of the 32 games in the past two years (espn.com). Linemen moves never seem very exciting, but he will be important in helping Robert Griffin from the start. Being 29, the Redskins will look to form a bond between them early and maintain it for as many seasons as possible.

March 9—Redskins trade three future first round picks and a second round pick to the Rams for their 2nd overall pick of 2012.

Why this matters: This pick will be used to get Robert Griffin III. Period.

March 12—The NFL has cut a combined $36 million from the Redskins for the next 2 years. This is due to some salary cap issues during last year’s uncapped year. (Washington Post)

Why this matters: This money lost will handcuff the Redskins from doing everything they want to. In a rebuilding process, teams need as much room to work as possible. Only time will tell how much this effects their plans.

March 14—The signings of Pierre Garcon and Joshua Morgan. These two moves happened on the same day and are another case of the Redskins building up their passing game.

Why this matters: This is important because it gives the Redskins and RGIII two young wideouts to play around with. Add to this the young and promising TE Fred Davis and the receiving abilities of their RB Roy Helu, and you have the start of a scary passing attack.

The issue is that neither Morgan nor Garcon have proven to have number 1 ability. Based on size and their respective Combine numbers, these receivers are more or less the same. (CBSSports) Both deep threats, both suspect route runners. The only difference is Garcon had Peyton Manning throwing to him and the year he didn’t, he still had Reggie Wayne taking all the double teams. The question is if Griffin will mesh with these two early on. Expect a long summer of private sessions, much like Peyton and Wayne or Harrison used to do. Timing is key.

March 15—The Redskins sign Brandon Meriweather after not singing LaRon Landry.

Why this matters: The decision to not sign Landry seems to be a big downgrade. The guy has plenty of athletic ability and is built like a Cadillac Escalade. However, his biggest downside is that he almost always goes for the big hit and is usually out of position. Meriweather has Pro Bowl talent. His biggest downside? Always out of position. (ESPN)

March 16—The Redskins sign CB Cedric Griffin.

Why this matters: With a steady flow of capable QBs in the NFC East, the Skins needed to sure up their defensive backs. Griffin has shown flashes of greatness, grabbing 4 picks in 2009 during the Vikings NFC championship run. The biggest problem for Griffin is that he has torn his ACL in both of his knees. There’s no need to tell you how big of an impact one ACL injury has on a player’s career. Griffin collected the whole set. (Bleacher Report)

How does this all affect the Giants?

Passing Game

The Redskins have followed the tide of the NFL and have focused on creating a strong passing game. Mike Shanahan has been known for his love for the running game dating back to his Denver Broncos days. It will be interesting to see how he adapts with his new QB…RGIII

He has been compared to Michael Vick and Cam Newton. I’d like to think of him as more of an Aaron Rodgers with slightly less arm accuracy but a ton more speed. Now obviously these are lofty expectations, but the skills are there. The guy has shown the ability to make all the throws and should still be considered a pocket QB despite his 4.4 speed. He is also a high character player with parents from a military background. What his biggest problem will be is…

The Giants Pass Rush

Obviously, the Giants pass rush is the biggest asset of the team. The Giants have shown decent containment abilities with guys like Vick, but have let Rodgers and Alex Smith get open space. The biggest issue for the Giants is RGIII’s ability to throw on the run. If he gets a chance to roll out to his right, look out, because big plays will occur. On the other hand, the Giants passing game will have to look out for…

The Redskins Pass Rush

The Redskins run a Base 3-4 defense. They have two of the best, young pass rushing outside linebackers in Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo. These two are already tenacious, but the recent signings in the secondary may help even more. If Cedric Griffin can show signs of his old self and add that to having DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson in front of him, they have a pretty formidable cornerback crew. Getting Meriweather to buy into a scheme is key. If they can, receivers will have a tough time getting open. This ultimately means more sacks and bad news for Mr. Eli Manning. Grade—B+

The Redskins are in a division where all of the teams are good, but none have proven to be great. Yes, the Giants won the Superbowl, but they showed signs of weakness last year. The Cowboys can’t seem to get over the hump, but have the talent. If the Eagles realize that Nnamdi is a man cover defensive back and that offensive line coaches shouldn’t coach defense, they are poised for a 10+ win season.

The Skins are young in all the right places. Obviously a lot is based on the progression of Robert Griffin III, but if he proves to not be a bust, the Redskins will be scary in 1-3 years.