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Grading the Redskins Starting Offense



The Redskins were not a good team, but some offensive players still received high marks for their work.
By: Matt Harmon and Will Fairfax

Quarterback: Robert Griffin III
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: D+

After one of the best rookie season in quarterbacking history, Robert Griffin III endured a disastrous second season. RGIII clearly came back too soon from his knee injury. He was a very unpolished NFL passer in 2012, but got by on physical gifts anyways. Without a proper second offseason to develop, he fell flat on his face in 2013. He was not without some nice moments, but those were too few and far in-between.

Griffin brought hope back to Washington as a rookie, but there is a lot to be concerned about from where we stand now. From his atrocious fundamentals to his questionable decisions off the field, RGIII showed he has a ton of room to grow. Of course, Griffin is still a very young man. He still possesses a world of potential to foster on and off the field; the future could still be very bright. 2013 was still a major setback.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: C-

Griffin struggled all season long with his accuracy finishing the season with a 60% completion percentage, which ranks 25th in the NFL. Compare that to 2012 when he finished with a 65% completion percentage, which was fourth best. Part of that contrast is his knee injury, dropped balls by receivers, and poor pass protection. He spent all offseason rehabbing his knee, which meant that he couldn’t concentrate on improving from 2012 and lacked the offseason reps.

In any case RG3 was on the field and he didn’t perform. Griffin had fewer touchdowns, more interceptions, more fumbles and more pass attempts than he did in 2012 in only 13 games (15 games in 2012). It was clearly a regression for Griffin who struggled all year with his footwork, delivery and working through reads. He showed glimpses of his 2012 form against the Bears and Chargers, but those glimpses were too rare.



Running back: Alfred Morris
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: B

Alfred Morris kept the offense afloat in 2013. Griffin was not the elite running threat he was as a rookie, and Morris’ numbers suffered just a tad as a result. Nevertheless, he was still the foundation of this offense. Morris is a smart back with very good vision.

All that being said, Morris is not without his share of flaws. He contributes next to nothing in the passing game, and the offense is far too predictable with him on the field. It is also more than fair to question how effective he will be away from the Shanahan zone running scheme. A good season, but it feels like he will always be just a slightly above average running back.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: B

Morris had a solid year running the ball with fewer running lanes than he did in 2012, finishing the season with 1,275 rushing yards and 7 touchdowns. Morris finished fourth in the league in rushing yards and had 10 rushes of 20 yards or more (best in the NFL). That is impressive considering the fact that defenses were so focused on stopping the run because of Griffin’s poor year throwing the football. Morris is one of the toughest running backs in the league to bring down and is excellent in the zone blocking scheme and finding the cutback lane. Morris doesn’t get an A due his hands, which may be the worst in the league at the running back position. Going into 2014 Morris needs to get better hands and hold on to the ball better (5 fumbles in 2013). Morris was initially selected as a first alternate to the Pro Bowl, but was selected to the game after Marshawn Lynch and the Seahawks punched their ticket to Super Bowl 48.



Fullback: Darrel Young
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: B

Washington is one of the few teams that still feature a true fullback. Darrel Young is a solid contributor at the position. His snap count was down this season, because the team was so often playing from behind. Young still had a nice season, and even sprinkled in a few big plays.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: A

The former linebacker has quickly become of the best young fullbacks in the league. Young has been excellent at opening holes for Morris and others in the running game and has good hands coming out of the backfield. His best game came in the Redskins last win of the season against the Chargers when he had 3 rushing touchdowns.

Wide Receiver 1: Pierre Garcon
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: A+

Pierre Garcon was incredible in 2013, easily his best season as a pro. Racking up over 100 catches; Garcon was the best player on the entire team. He is a perfect fit with Robert Griffin, and the west coast offense in general. His best work is done on those quick slants to the middle of the field.

Pierre Garcon’s growth since coming to Washington is quite remarkable. When he played with Peyton Manning in Indianapolis, Garcon was known as an inefficient deep threat. He can still take the top off a defense, but he does so much more now. He brings in very difficult catches, and is phenomenal with the ball in his hands. Pierre Garcon is the best building block Washington has on offense.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: A

Garcon had a superb season finishing the year with 113 receptions (most in the NFL), 1346 receiving yards (8th in NFL) and 5 touchdowns. Garcon plays every play with a fierce passion and anger, which is a big reason why he had 586 yards after the catch (5th in the NFL). Garcon proved that he is a legit number one receiver and was worth every penny of his 5 year $42.5 million contract. Garcon’s fangs mouthpiece epitomize how deadly he is. He’s a tough nosed receiver that doesn’t shy away from contact and has the ability to make the circus catch. Garcon was the only Redskins receiver that made a consistent impact, which needs to change in 2014.


Wide Receiver 2: Josh Morgan/Leonard Hankerson
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: D

All that praise heaped on Garcon is even more impressive when you consider the skeleton crew across from him. Josh Morgan and Leonard Hankerson are not starting receivers in the NFL. Morgan had a number of poor moments, and will be off the roster very soon. Hankerson disappears for long stretches. He should not be a big part of the team’s future.

The Redskins have a ton of other needs, but they really need some help here. The team has a true number one, so there is no need to go to crazy. A mid-level free agent or draft pick would really help out their quarterback.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: D

Morgan and Hankerson are listed together because neither of them proved that they could be a good number two receiver. Hankerson had an inconsistent year before tearing his ACL in week 11 against the Eagles. Kyle Shanahan did say though that he was improving in his last three games before tearing his ACL. Against the Chargers and the Vikings he caught 10 of the 11 balls thrown his way. Morgan wasn’t much better and appears on his way out of Washington after his two-year contract expired. The Redskins would be wise to upgrade the position in the offseason.


Tight End: Jordan Reed
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: B

Jordan Reed made Fred Davis completely irrelevant. The fourth-round tight end from Florida was a revelation. He came on slow in the beginning, but had a dominant three game stretch. His emergence was huge, as it gave Griffin a second dynamic passing weapon.

Reed’s only issue was health, and it was a big one. He seemed to be constantly plagued by head injuries. Concussions are a very serious issue and it is fair to wonder how they will affect Reed going forward. Hopefully it was a one-year deal, and Reed goes on to have a long, productive career. He has a mountain of potential to offer the team.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: A

The third round pick out of Florida turned out to be the Redskins best draft pick last April. Despite only playing in 9 games he finished second on the team in catches, receiving yards and receiving touchdowns. He was consistently RG3’s security blanket and was the only other player to step up in the passing game besides Garcon. Hopefully Reed can recover from his concussion that kept him out of the Redskins final six games. Reed finished the year with 45 catches for 499 yards and three touchdowns.

Left Tackle: Trent Williams
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: A

Trent Williams was Pro Football Focus’ best offensive tackle (subscription required) in 2013, and for good reason. Williams had a few ugly moments—the San Francisco game stands out—but was generally very good this season. His one big flaw is he does seem to have lapses in concentration. He is not a major slacker or anything, but he does appear disinterested at times.

The current generation is light on stellar left tackle play in the NFL, but Williams is near the top of his position. With a rare size and speed combination, he can dominate the opposition. The Redskins will not have to worry about left tackle spot for many years.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: B+

Williams was by far the Redskins best offensive lineman and capped off the year with his second consecutive Pro Bowl nod. Williams was the only Redskins player selected to the Pro Bowl before Morris replaced Lynch. Trent “Silverback” Williams uses his 6’5” 325 pound frame to obliterate anything in sight on running plays. Williams struggled at times in pass protection, but had a solid year overall and did a good job for the most part protecting Griffin’s blind side.

Left Guard: Kory Lichtensiteger
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: C+

Kory Lightenstieger is just about an average starting guard, and the grade reflects that. He does solid work as a run blocker, but can get pushed around in protection. He is not a particularly big man, but he is quick and moves well.

Lichtenstieger should probably come into training camp as the starting left guard. Not because he is a great player, but more because there will not be many alternatives. He is one of many guys who would be negatively affected by a major scheme change, however.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: C

Lichtensteiger does a good job in the run game and is a natural fit in the zone-blocking scheme. The scheme requires lighter lineman that are quick and get outside and block in space. The problem is that it often comes at the expense of pass protection, which is where Lichtensteiger struggled. Going forward he needs to work on his pass protection, at which he did a much better job in 2012.


Center: Will Montgomery
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: B+

Another solid linemen, Will Montgomery had a nice 2013 season. He makes the line calls that a more polished quarterback would make, and does his job effectively as well. Montgomery was good in protection, as most of the interior pressure Griffin faced came from the guards’ miscues.

Montgomery is starting to get up there in age. However, he should be able to play well for a few more years. His play might not fall off a cliff if Jay Gruden switches up the blocking scheme. He bounced around the league before landing in Washington, and is probably well versed in more than just the zone run.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: C

Montgomery like the majority of the lineman did a good job in run blocking, but struggled in pass protection. Montgomery rarely adjusted to blitzing linebackers and often gave up pressure up the middle, which is the worst kind of pressure for a quarterback to face. Montgomery is a good scheme fit, but must improve in pass protection or the Redskins may look for a replacement.

Right Guard: Chris Chester
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: D

The whole offensive line gets thrown under the bus, but Chris Chester is the only one who is really a poor player. He was a nice signing by the team a few years back, but his skills have all but eroded. He was a liability on the field in 2013, in both the run and pass game.

The most disturbing part of the Chester situation was that no one else ever rose up to unseat him. Former third-round pick Josh LeRibeus has been a complete non-factor to this point. The Redskins have to find someone to replace Chester. He should not take another snap for the team.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: F

Chris Chester was by far the Redskins weakest lineman and received the lowest grade by profootballfocus.com of any of the Redskins lineman. Chester did an adequate job in run blocking, but was atrocious in pass protection. He was routinely abused when attempting to protect Griffin and even struggled at times at run blocking. The Redskins were better off putting a cardboard box at right guard then lining up Chester.

Right Tackle: Tyler Polumbus
Matt’s Analysis:
Grade: B+

My extensive thoughts on Polumbus have already been dispensed. He made a big leap from 2012 to 2013. He is still relatively young and could just now be hitting his stride as a player. Polumbus is not very popular with fans or local media, but that is unfair. The vitriol is mostly based off his reputation. He does have rough moments, and is unfortunate that those are usually of the very visibly awful variety.

Unless they spend a premium pick, or big money in free agency, the Redskins will not be finding anyone better to man the right tackle spot. Given the other holes on the roster, it would be unwise to do either. The best course of action is keeping Polumbus entrenched in the hopes he builds on a solid year. However, not to be a broken record, he is another one who may suffer from a blocking scheme transition.

Will’s Analysis:
Grade: C+

As sad as it is to say Polumbus is probably the Redskins second best lineman (although a distant one at that). Polumbus was reliable in run blocking and consistently opened up lanes for Morris to run on stretch plays. His pass protection was a mixed bag. At times he would do a decent job in pass protection, but at other times he would whiff in pass protection, which would result in RG3 running for his life. It’s not all on Polumbus and the offensive line though. Griffin’s inability to be decisive in the pocket made the offensive line look worse than it was, and profootballfocus.com ranked the Redskins as the third best offensive line in the league, which will upset Redskins fans. Here's the link.

https://twitter.com/WillFairfax1



1 Comments

Photo
Chad Jensen
Jan 20 2014 09:51 PM

Nice read, fellas. Morris, Reed, Garcon, and Williams stood out for ya'll big time. 

 

Hopefully RG3 doesn't sabotage Gruden and has a turnaround 2014. 

    • Will Fairfax and Matt Harmon like this

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