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Need to Know: 5 reasons the Redskins could struggle in 2014

Jun 23, 2014, 5:01 AM EDT

Morris-fumble-vs.-Eagles

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 23, 31 days before the Redskins start training camp.

Nickel coverage

Yesterday we looked at five reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season. Today it’s the other side of the coin, five reasons the team could struggle this season.

The safety situation is shaky—Perhaps the Redskins should be applauded for not overpaying for safeties like Mike Mitchell and Jairus Byrd but one of the rewards for their fiscal restraint is a patched-together unit at safety. Ryan Clark is smart and a leader but the Steelers thought he’d lost too many steps. Brandon Meriweather likes to go headhunting and Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas are woefully inexperienced.

Injuries on the defensive line—There are three D-lineman over 30 who have had surgery in the last seven months. Barry Cofield (hernia), Stephen Bowen (knee, microfracture) and Jason Hatcher (knee, cleanup) are all likely to be ready to go when the season starts. But it remains to be seen if they can last once the seasons begins.

A high-risk defensive scheme—It’s all about getting to the quarterback for this defense. If the pass rush doesn’t improve dramatically due to injuries, offensive adjustments, or any one of dozens of things that could go wrong, the weak secondary will be exposed.

Offensive line in transition—It seems that Jay Gruden is going to utilize the outside zone run game that was so effective for the Redskins under Mike Shanahan but at the same time he wants bigger offensive linemen to protect the quarterback. This is a “have your cake and eat it, too” situation and how it shakes out will be vital to the team’s fortunes.

A first-year head coach—It seems like Jay Gruden has his act together and the players seem to be responding to him positively. But they haven’t suffered a three-game losing streak yet. Gruden hasn’t yet made a questionable third-down decision and he hasn’t yet faced the wrath of fans who think he abandoned the run too early in a close loss. It remains to be seen how he reacts to such adversity.

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Timeline

—It’s been 176 days since the Redskins played a game; in 76 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.

Days until: Training camp 31; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 45; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 83

In case you missed it

  1. mrhart76 - Jun 23, 2014 at 7:14 AM

    Skins haven’t drafted a D-lineman in 3 years. Your best players are all 30 and up. Coming off surgeries. I hate to say we get ran on and over because Baker is in for Cofield and taking wrong angles and shooting wrong gaps. Jenkins is Jenkins.And Doug Worthington or Kendrick is forced into duty. Making double teaming Orakpo easy.

    • cowboyhater - Jun 23, 2014 at 1:45 PM

      Didn’t draft a D-lineman because you have to address and prioritize your needs. D-lineman was addressed with pickup of Hatcher for the short term. I’m sure this area will be addressed next season in FA, and the draft. You can’t get everything in one year. They have depth at this position so it wasn’t necessary to do anything in the draft. They can double team Orakpo all they want, which will leave Murphy, and Kerrigan free to rush the passer. Opposing offenses will have to pick their poison between Orakpo, Hatcher, Murphy, or Kerrigan. This will be the blitz package this year, and should be lethal. To build depth it takes time. In the Shanahan era, there were some missteps, but there were some good draft picks. It’s a process when you try to rebuild a team that can win on a consistent basis, but the direction seems positive.

      • mrhart76 - Jun 23, 2014 at 5:50 PM

        When your main players on d-line are over 30 and coming off surgery in a rebuilding year thats not good. You draft to replenish. Injuries happen more when you get older and the backups we have suck to be honest.

  2. kenlinkins - Jun 23, 2014 at 9:52 AM

    The Redskin fan in me likes what GM Allen and Coach Gruden have done to date, but the football fan in me knows there are still way to many major question marks for a winning season in 2014. If the Redskins can show development improvements at O-Line, QB, pass rush and Special Teams play I would consider 2014 a success with a 7-9 record. I also hope Redskins fans give coach Gruden time to develop his own head coaching style as with any rookie head coach there will be false starts and mistakes made early on. If Coach Gruden can learn quickly and has little fear of admitting mistakes (and moving to correct them) 2014 could be the year the Redskins turn the corner and become a solid NFL team again. Player Growth and Development is the key in 2014, this will tell us if he have the right head coach to move the Redskins forward. IMO the Preseason is Phase One and should be very interesting to watch!

  3. skinsdawg - Jun 23, 2014 at 8:39 PM

    Cowboy Hater you are right on the money. Sure- we would love to have a couple 25 Y/O studs on the D-Line. But to draft D-Line would have been the dumbest thing in the history of the Redskins Franchise. We picked up the NFC East’s Pro-Bowl Lineman last year, in Hatcher, who is just over 30- but with low mileage. He didn’t start his first few years in Dalls. Then he really came on last year with 11 sacks- more than the combined Redkins D-Line. And he’s ready to roll in the 3-4. Baker is young, and he can play the NT too. He’s getting better. Cofeild’s got a couple solid years left in the tank, and we have options at the other End spot (opposite Hatcher), as long as Bowen is healthy. I kinda think Bowen gets released. Baker takes that spot- or he takes NG, with Cofield moving over. This D-Line will be fine. Don’t forget- it’s a 3-4 line- and not designed to do what a 4-3 line does. It’s all about Kerrigan, Rak, and now getting a groove for Murph to work. D-Line is OK until next year.

    Here’s the thing. I keep saying it. Over. And over. And over again. I am very scared….. that the O-Line is gong to completely SUCK!!! Again. For like the 9th time, in the last 10 years. Why the he11 do they not fix the damn O-Line, once, and for all !!! ?? !!!! Man- until Long and Moses are ready, the line is still gong to probably stink. We dropped a 300LB Center b’c he was too small, and got blown off the line. So they replaced him with a 284 LB Center. Wow. Lick moves over. So really……. only 1 new lineman. Lavaou. McGlynn is a back-up, and supposedly is just terrible. His player ranking wasn’t even on the charts, as far as I can see. At least he’s big. And at least we have a new Center, even tho he’s a re-tread of an existing (so-so) lineman. Maybe he’ll be better than Monty. And better than he was at G. I just don’t see it. I think they’ll stink until we can replace RG, C, and RT. Heck- Lavaou is supposedly a HORRIBLE Run Blocking G. But he is also (supposedly) an excellent pass-blocking G. I guess I’ll take that. It would be nice for Griffin to have more than a half second back there.

    I’m a little worried about the Def Backfield. Not as much about D-Line. Maybe a hair. And I’m worried overall about the D, in general. But the freakin’ O-Line could be a Train-Wreck. Again. That’s the #1 concern.

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