JIMMY’S PRESEASON PICKS
Last night’s Hall of Fame Game inspired more than just a slew of sixth-string receivers: it’s time to brush off the offseason dust and take a deepened look into what teams are the best and worst going into the NFL season. Some have made excellent strides regarding personnel and strategic coordination, while others have continued on their hapless tirade of mediocrity. With that being said, the first stop will be within the NFC East: a division jam-packed with contention and drama almost every single year.
With the knee of Robert Griffin III still on the mend, the Redskins are hoping to continue the fervor that led them to a division title last year, while remaining cautious about the health of their young quarterback. A Washingotn team without RGIII is similar to a Corvette with no wheels. With great precaution needed with any knee injury, Redskins fans need to accept that they will see less of the huge runs from Griffin and hope for more of the huge passes. From wide receiver to running back, this team is absolutely jam-packed with talent and ready to take that next step to a deep playoff run. Does Shanahan revert back to a pro-style offense, abandoning the much riskier read-option, or should he go with a spread to further mix things up? The beauty of the Redskins personnel is that they have the ability to run many, many different plays from scrimmage.
The defense is a completely different animal. The Redskins were one of the most passed-on teams in 2013, and don’t expect to see that number fluctuate much. Their secondary seemed amateur at times and wonderful at others. One of their trademark performances from last year can be seen when they were leading the Giants by three with 1:13 left in their Week 7 matchup. Any intelligent safety would know that this is a time to play off the linebackers and drop into a very deep zone, especially with Victor Cruz on the other side of the line of scrimmage. Instead, this happened.
The Redskins are on the cusp of doing something truly great in this league. They could very well be Super Bowl contenders next year if Griffin is able to stay healthy – but health would require a lot more ducking and sliding and a lot less spinning and jumping. He is the heart and soul of this football team and without him they are just another 7-9, middle-grade club. Perhaps they could rely on more of a run-and-gun type approach with less of the spectacle and more of the grind. With a running back like Alfred Morris, this is entirely possible. The defense needs to gain some form of momentum going down the stretch if they are ever going to keep up with the current trend of carpet-bomb passing that is going on in the league today.
The defense will be the Achilles heel of this team, holding them to a 9-7 record. There are just too many holes in the game plan of Mike Shanahan for this team to make a serious playoff run, and until RGIII figures out how to protect himself, there’s reason to fear that another — more serious — injury is imminent.