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Need to Know: The Redskins’ strongest and weakest positions

Sep 5, 2015, 5:53 AM EDT

Kerrigan-vs-Jags-2

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, September 5, eight days before the Washington Redskins open their season against the Miami Dolphins.

Best and worst position groups on the 2015 Redskins

The Redskins have not yet quite set the 53-man roster yet but we still have a pretty good idea of who will be on it. Let’s take a look at where the Redskins are strongest and weakest on each side of the ball.

Offense

Strongest: The running backs are a strong, versatile group. Alfred Morris has three seasons with over 1,000 yards rushing under his belt, Matt Jones has one of the most talked about rookie backs during the preseason and it looks like Chris Thompson is finally healthy and running with both speed and, unexpectedly, power. And Darrel Young is solid blocking fullback who can catch passes out of the backfield.

Weakest: It’s hard to overlook the issues at quarterback. Kirk Cousins will start but he has a lot to prove in regards to cutting down on interceptions. Colt McCoy is a journeyman who has never consistently been able to lead an offense to points. And the trials and tribulations of Robert Griffin III are well known to anyone reading this.

Defense

Strongest: Even after losing Junior Galette to a season-ending Achilles injury, the linebacker group looks pretty strong. Ryan Kerrigan is the team’s best player on defense and Keenan Robinson could be the second best. Opposite Kerrigan, second-round picks Preston Smith and Trent Murphy will compete for playing time; one or both could be very effective. And while fans love to complain about Perry Riley’s coverage issues, there are many worse inside linebackers in the league.

Weakest: The Redskins added two veteran safeties, drafted one, and got Duke Ihenacho back after he missed most of 2014 with an injury. But the unit may not be much better than the one that struggled last year. The last time we saw Dashon Goldson he was trying to chase down Steve Smith of the Ravens and failing to do so. Ihenacho can force the run well but he needs to work on coverage. In Seattle, Jeron Johnson backed up Kam Chancellor and Earl Thomas but he has been injured during camp and did not stand out in any way against the Jaguars’ backups on Thursday. Add in a shaky cornerback group and you have to hope that the line and linebackers are able to get a pass rush.

Timeline

Today’s schedule: Off day, no availability; Final roster cuts due 4 p.m.

—It’s been 251 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 8 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Rams @ Redskins 15; Redskins @ Giants Thursday night 19

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In case you missed it

  1. troylok - Sep 5, 2015 at 7:38 AM

    I think the secondary is going to improve as the season wears on. They put a few of those guys in some tough spots with the defense called. Goldson is never going to catch Steve Smith in a straight on foot race. Hopefully, Barry has a few ideas about how to work to the strengths of the guys he has. I would love to see a lot more press coverage, but without a sideline-to-sideline safety on the roster, we will still see a lot of plays with the corners playing off, and not a lot of eight men in the box when opposition running games start to grind.

    • rtcwon - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:21 AM

      Goldson didn’t lose a foot race with Smith, he took a ridiculously horrible angle. He basically ran right at Amerson who was about 10 yards lost because they were trying to see if he could play the slot. He can’t. I still believe in Amerson on the edge but they have to rely on Breeland & Rodgers to play slot. And we are all hoping that was just rust on Breeland’s part against Jacksonville.

      It will upset a lot of fans but this will be a bend, but don’t break D. Teams will move the ball against soft corners playing cover 3. I know most fans hate that but the hope is to use pressure to get turnovers or hold to field goals.

      • kenlinkins - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:00 AM

        It did seem that the 1’s were playing a “contain” style defense in preseason and the 2’s were playing a more attack, down hill style with the front 7 with Jeffcoat and Bates getting sacks. I wonder why that was?

        • bangkokben - Sep 5, 2015 at 11:41 AM

          Because Murphy and Smith and even (Bates with the ones) weren’t getting home. Not for lack of trying.

        • Darren - Sep 5, 2015 at 11:40 PM

          Because, they wanted to see who could play in his scheme. The ones aren’t doing much but basic defense until week one. Xwe will have good defense don’t worry. Don’t pay attention to last year like everybody does.. New team

    • kenlinkins - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:56 AM

      I would still love to see Amerson or Hall at FS (i.e. side line to side line) and see how that works (Assumes that Hall doesn’t HAVE to place CB due to failures of others). I think CB will be high on the new GM’s list for next years draft.

  2. smotion55 - Sep 5, 2015 at 8:40 AM

    I am optimistic about Cousins and McCoy . I believe if Robert leaves a breath of fresh air will be all positive. They will score more points this year
    I do think that the GM alcoholic behavior and wife problems that come with that is something to cause concern. I also think that Pot Roast is 30 pounds over what he was to be playing at- no pressure so far will add to the secondary problems as you stated.
    I also believe Forbath will cost us 1 game all by himself and special teams another 1 or 2.

  3. rtcwon - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:09 AM

    Wide Receiver is the no brainier strongest group on this team, on either side of the ball. Two legit studs that keep Grant, who is better than a lot of teams one, off the field. Roberts had a bad year but still could be anybodies three. If he cuts his drops just in half, he will be somebodies two next year. If they get anything out of the rookie, they are the best 1 through 5 anywhere.

    Yes, the running backs are good but let’s wait until the rookie plays in some actual games. If he turns out to be a consistent threat spelling Morris, then you can put them in the conversation.

    On D, the line is the strength. Not close at all if you don’t separate inside and outside linebacker, which I do. I really like the inside guys, Robinson is one of three or four legit stud two-way Mikes in the league, Riley is an above average Jack and Compton can play either position admirably but they’re not as deep with proven talent as the DL.

    Again, I separate safety and corner but neither are the weak link they used to be. Duke is above average at strong and hasn’t shown any coverage issues. Goldson is just a place holder until TRob earns the job. With Johnson and the rookie for depth, they are vastly improved over last year. They have 4 #2s at corner. If Culliver really steps up to a 1 and one of the prospects shows they can back up Breeland in the slot, they also will be very solid.

    Easily the weak link on D are the outside linebackers. The only chance they had at generating any consistent pressure was with Galette around. I like Kerrigan, who doesn’t? But he just doesn’t have the talent to be a one man show. Murphy is great setting the edge against the run. That’s a start but everything else about the OLBs is unproven at best.

  4. bangkokben - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:43 AM

    Just read Rich’s CSN article on Griffin being the number two when cleared but inactive until he is “ready.” Interesting. Very Redskin like – do whatever the opposite is from what Jason Reid “suggests.”

    • rtcwon - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:12 AM

      I didn’t know anybody still paid attention to anything Jason Reid writes.

      • bangkokben - Sep 5, 2015 at 11:24 AM

        He has more outlets than just print. He was “pounding the table” (figuratively) that the ONLY thing the Redskins could do would be to release Griffin.

  5. goback2rfk - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:45 AM

    Now with RG3 a lock as the number 2 quarterback it should’nt take until about the 3rd quarter of the Miami game for the cheers of “RG3” “RG3” to rain down from the crowd. Leaving Rob as the number 2 guys is not only a distraction but a horrible idea. Wont be long before we get another “switch” at QB. The Skins are a joke, the laughing stock of the NFL.

    • redskinscaio - Sep 5, 2015 at 9:57 AM

      I think the Jets and the Jaguars are in a much worse state than the Skins. Oh and the Raiders….and maybe the Vikings, with AP missing all of last season for beating his child. Look at the circus that is the Jets, not only a terrible team, but their QB got his jaw broken in the locker room by a teammate, lol.

      • Skulb - Sep 5, 2015 at 1:05 PM

        You can not seriously compare Minnesota to this parody.

    • kenlinkins - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:04 AM

      As long as the drama stays in the stands and media, and not in the locker room I do not care. It will be interesting to see how RG3 handles the set back. If he can just keep his mouth shut, stay off social media, things could work out very nice for him.

  6. redskinscaio - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:02 AM

    If Trent and the offensive line can stay healthy, the Skins will win some games. Kirk cannot turn the ball over. He needs to manage the games, but he hasn’t done that his entire career.

    If Trent Williams goes down, the Skins are in big trouble. Go ahead and look it up, I don’t think they have EVER won a game when Trent didn’t play a majority of that game.

    • bangkokben - Sep 5, 2015 at 11:53 AM

      Any team that loses a stud left tackle is going to suffer. Richie Pettibone lasted one season but Jim Lachey was lost for the season from a training camp injury. Had we not been so spoiled with ten win seasons, we might have given Pettibone more than one year.

  7. kenlinkins - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:07 AM

    “It is 10AM, do you know who your player are?” “Yea, me neither”!

  8. redskinscaio - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:08 AM

    The Dolphins are a solid team and they will be fighting for a playoff spot. I see them going around .500 or 9-7. It will be a good test to see where the Redskins are at.

    The keys to beating the Dolphins will obviously be the turnover battle, but also keep an eye out on the battle between their tight ends versus our linebackers/safeties.

    It’s going to be hard to move the ball consistently against them, especially with Suh dominating the line of scrimmage, but Kirk needs to stay patient and not succumb to turning the ball over!

  9. goback2rfk - Sep 5, 2015 at 10:29 AM

    Now that RG3 has cemented his place maybe cut McCoy and carry only 2 QB’s to open up a spot for someone else. Im sure Colt would not mind as 3rd string on the Redskins is not the most glamorous positions to be in. Surely Colt could at least be a number 2 guy somewhere else. Cya Colt.

    • bangkokben - Sep 5, 2015 at 11:55 AM

      Griffin hasn’t been cleared to play, yet. This is not going to happen. Griffin will be inactive week 1.

      • goback2rfk - Sep 5, 2015 at 12:54 PM

        Rg3 will soon be cleared to play and he will be suited up against Miami. He will have the speaker set in his ear also. He will be walking around the sideline clapping for his teammates. He will put on the best show he can so that he may be picked up by another squad in the future. He may even come back this year early in the season. He is one hit away from coming back in the game.

        • Skulb - Sep 5, 2015 at 1:03 PM

          And one more hit away from going out again. This has to be a trade baiting maneuver.

  10. Skulb - Sep 5, 2015 at 1:02 PM

    I´m just gonna put “owner” at the top of my list. Everyone else looks competent next to him.

  11. goback2rfk - Sep 5, 2015 at 2:10 PM

    Even a stoned out Fred Davis is better at the TE position than what we have now. What is the big deal about smoking a joint or whatever? Its not like he beat up his wife or anything. Fred could be a solid back up behind Jordan Reeed. You know Reed is going to get hurt early again this year. Man I can already sense that hammy coming. (Jordan Reed doubtful – hamstring)

  12. Skulb - Sep 5, 2015 at 2:49 PM

    I might put TE above QB on the offense. Other than that I think Rich has this spot on. Although it might also be a toss up between RB and WR for strongest on offense.

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