Washington Report: Getting It Going Under Gruden

Robert Griffin III looks to re-capture his 2012 form as Washington rebuilds under first-year coach Jay Gruden

By
Greg A. Bedard
· More from Greg·
It will be up to Griffin (left) and RB Alfred Morris to drive Washington's new offense. (AP Photo)
It will be up to Griffin (left) and RB Alfred Morris to drive Washington’s new offense. (AP Photo)

Beautiful, cloudless skies greeted us in Richmond, Va., the second straight year Washington has moved its summer sessions 120 miles to the south of the team’s facility in Ashburn. This one has a much different feel, however, after the team’s disastrous 3-13 campaign led to the firing of Mike Shanahan, and the arrival of former Bengals offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has head coach. To mark the occasion, big brother Jon Gruden was in attendance. The crowd was large and boisterous, although not to the level of our trip last year, as usual.

One vivid memory from watching practice

The loudest cheer, by far, came when quarterback Robert Griffin III slid on the damp turf after scrambling out of the pocket during a team drill. Griffin missed much of last year’s camp because of ACL surgery, and his durability has been an issue. However, the cheer was notable because what it represented: the high point of the day as far as Washington’s offense went. It’s going to take some time to get up to speed in Jay Gruden’s scheme.

How this team can go 12–4

First-year head coach Jay Gruden was all smiles while big brother Jon looked on. (AP Photo)
First-year head coach Jay Gruden was all smiles while big brother Jon looked on. (AP Photo)

It can’t—there isn’t enough talent, especially in the secondary—for that to happen. That does not mean, however, that Washington can’t be a contender in the underwhelming NFC East, where everybody has issues. A season like 2012, Griffin’s rookie campaign when the team finished 10-6, is certainly possible. The defense, which will have continuity with defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and the steadying presence of veteran safety Ryan Clark, should be improved. Much will depend on how quickly Griffin regains his form and performs from the pocket, and how the rest of the unit acclimates to Gruden’s system. For the latter, that usually doesn’t happen until the second half off the season.

How this team can go 4–12

The learning curve on offense leads to disappointing losses in the first two games against perceived lightweights Houston and Jacksonville (after that it’s a tough stretch: at Eagles, vs. Giants, vs. Seahawks, at Cardinals). But I don’t see that happening. There’s too much talent at the offensive skill positions and at linebacker to get that bad. The more likely scenario, as with just about every other team, is a rash of injuries leads down the path to loserdom. The wheels could come off if Griffin takes a beating and secondary leaders Clark (34) and DeAngelo Hall (30) succumb to age.

Now, from fantasyland …

MMQB from Washington Camp

Peter King and The MMQB RV stopped in for the opening of Washington's training camp. Check out the stories. 

WASHINGTON CAMP HUB

1. Hard to tell how the touches will be disseminated in Gruden’s attack, but it looked like Andre Roberts has some nice camaraderie with Griffin. Both Roberts and DeSean Jackson will get looks on pre-packaged bubble screens; they look like they were lifted right out of the Eagles’ playbook.

2. With defenses having to worry so much about Washington’s speed at receiver (Jackson, Garcon and Roberts), look for TE Jordan Reed to find a lot of open room to operate. He should get plenty of touches.

3. Rookie RB Lache Seastrunk didn’t appear as fast as his Baylor game tape, so look for veteran Roy Helu Jr. to maintain an edge at third-down back until the games get started.

The starters

How I project the lineup, with competitive spots in bold:

  OFFENSE   DEFENSE
WR DeSean Jackson LDE Jason Hatcher
LT Trent Williams NT Barry Cofield
LG Shawn Lauvao RDE Chris Baker/Jarvis Jenkins
C Kory Lichtensteiger OLB Brian Orakpo
RG Chris Chester/Spencer Long ILB Perry Riley Jr.
RT Tyler Polumbus/Morgan Moses/Tom Compton ILB Keenan Robinson/Darryl Sharpton/Akeem Jordan
TE Jordan Reed OLB Ryan Kerrigan
WR Pierre Garcon CB DeAngelo Hall
3rdWR Andre Roberts CB David Amerson
QB Robert Griffin III SS Brandon Meriweather
RB Alfred Morris FS Ryan Clark
FB Darrel Young 3rdCB Tracy Porter/Bashaud Breeland
K Kai Forbath/Zach Hocker P Robert Malone
 

Moses, a third-round pick, looks to be a ways off from competing for a starting spot … Robinson has the edge right now to replace London Fletcher, but Sharpton and Jordan are very game veterans. … The battle for third cornerback is a classic one between a cagey veteran and an aggressive youngster. Breeland has a little boom or bust to his game.

Follow The MMQB on Twitter and Instagram @TheMMQB and check in on our training camp tour at #themmqbtour.

Best new player in camp

DeSean Jackson, wide receiver. It appears that Griffin will need a bit of time to adjust to the speed at which Jackson plays the game—a few balls were thrown behind him. There’s no doubt about how fast Jackson is, and Gruden will find ways to get him the ball.

Strong opinion that I may regret by November

Washington is going to be plagued by poor safety play. Again. Ryan Clark is still, even at 34, an underrated player. But he’s not playing next to Troy Polamalu anymore. It’s a little amazing to me that, four years after watching his terrible camp for the Patriots, Brandon Meriweather is even in the league anymore, let alone a starter. Clark is going to have to do more to make that combination work, and I’m just not that sure he is capable of it anymore.

Something I’ve never seen before

A male fan standing on the rope line during practice wearing a Brian Orakpo jersey while sporting an impressive mullet.

What I thought when I walked out of camp

Meh. Washington is the type of team that will either be very competitive in a weak division, or show it’s a year away with a new coach and offensive system. The division alone should keep them in it for much of the season. After that, it’s about luck, health and how quickly the players really click with the new offense and each other. But a lot needs to go right for Washington to be a threat to anyone outside NFC East.

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10 comments
mesteve8
mesteve8

If you aren't going to use "Redskins" then you might as well blur the logo too.

jdtarheel
jdtarheel

REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS REDSKINS  REDSKINS REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINSREDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINSREDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS  REDSKINS

number18
number18

wonder how many times he heard the N word,you know,by the Thuggers who use it freely??

therick
therick

King said his staff is free to use the word Redskins if they want. Guess Bedard and Benoit are 'voluntarily' choosing not to. Sure. I guess Florio is running this site too.

bartleby'sdog
bartleby'sdog

Going 4-12 is probably about right for this team, this year. Somthing will likely backfire with Desean Jackson. It usually does.

rioroyster
rioroyster

Interesting.. Not one mention of the term "Redskins" in the entire article about the Washington Redskins.


So is this going to be the Medias reaction to this. Just act as if the term isnt still being used?

kemp1313
kemp1313

So... The team's facility isn't in Landover, MD. The Washington Redskins are headquartered in Ashburn, VA.

MoeLarryAndJesus
MoeLarryAndJesus

@gary7  Another fake NA who is really just another RWNJ who can't grasp the your/you're distinction.

TurribleTowel
TurribleTowel

@rioroyster They don't use the R-word on this site. Good for them. We can all agree that there are, by conservative estimates, at least a few thousand people offended by it. And I've never met anyone who was offended by someone NOT using a racial slur.

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