Things couldn’t have gone much worse for the Redskins in 2013, but there’s reason for optimism in the nation’s capital. First-year head coach Jay Gruden – yes, Jon’s little brother – brings a new offense and a new demeanor to Washington. He’ll lean on an offensive wunderkind in first-year, 28-year-old offensive coordinator Sean McVay, who was promoted from tight ends coach.
The additions of Gruden and offensive game breakers DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts at wideout are expected to help Robert Griffin III erase the memory of his forgettable second season and help him evolve into the star quarterback he’s shown the potential of becoming.
Griffin is back to full health and already taking to McVay’s new playbook.
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"He did an excellent job above the neck," McVay told reporters during the team’s OTA sessions. "As far as absorbing the new system, some of the terminology … he’s done an excellent job translating his knowledge in the meeting room onto the field, recognizing some of those looks. Some of the audible situations we’ll give him the opportunity to call things at the line. He’s shown he’s fully capable of doing it, and that’s what gives him a great chance to have success this year."
On defense, the Redskins will miss the veteran leadership of retired linebacker London Fletcher, but they added a trio of free-agent leaders in end Jason Hatcher, safety Ryan Clark and linebacker Adam Hayward. Jim Haslett, despite the team’s rash of defensive struggles the past two years, survived the regime change and remains the coordinator. Haslett, who has significant ties to Gruden dating back to the Arena Football League, is expected to have more say in defensive decisions this season.
On paper, of course, the Washington defense has two of the best young pass rushers in the game in Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, a capable defensive line and a good mix of veterans and youth in the defensive backfield. Alas, games aren’t won on paper.
Fresh faces, both on the sideline and the field, could be just what the doctor ordered in D.C. At the very least, it’s a better situation for the team’s superstar quarterback.