2_Washington Redskins2

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strength of the team. There are some questions up front, due to injury and production concerns. It’s likely free-agent acquisition Jason Hatcher will begin the season on the physically unable to perform list, due to the lingering effects of a knee injury, but the end had 11 sacks for Dallas last year, and if healthy, will be a fine addition. Barry Cofield is a solid nose man, while Jarvis Jenkins had his moments while starting five games last year at end. Last year’s secondary allowed enemy passers to complete an obscene 65.6 percent of their throws last year and surrendered 29 TDs. That was a big reason Washington allowed 29.9 ppg, 30th in the league. Signing Ryan Clark away from Pittsburgh to handle the free safety spot was a good idea. He had 104 tackles and two picks last year and has Pro Bowl talent. Everybody knows that DeAngelo Hall is a fixture at one corner. He had four interceptions last year but isn’t at the same level he was five years ago. David Amerson had an up-and-down rookie season at the other corner. The 2013 second-round pick had two interceptions, including one he returned for a TD, but he also had moments where he struggled in coverage. Strong safety Brandon Meriweather is back on a one-year deal. He was suspended for two games last year for a helmet-tohelmet hit and made the infamous comment that “I guess I just got to take people’s knees out.” The seven-year vet can hit; there is no doubt about that. He has to stay on the field, though. Defensive Player to Watch There wasn’t a more apt free-agent pick-up during the offseason than Washington’s signing of Clark, who began his career in D.C. and returns to help solidify the team’s secondary and help it return to the top of the NFC East. Clark, who wore No. 25 before, switched to 21 as a tribute to former Washington safety—and Clark’s close friend—Sean Taylor, who was murdered in 2007. He has been open in his affection for the organization and its fans. Now, all he has to do is help the Washington defense start acting more like the Steelers’ outfits on which he played by cutting down on big plays by opponents and creating opportunities for easy scoring drives. Clark is happy to have the opportunity to do that, and Washington is delighted to have him back. Redskins Special Teams Sav Rocca averaged a mediocre 42.0 yards per punt last year, and Washington decided not to re-sign him. That makes sense. The trouble is that the team doesn’t have anybody on board it can consider a steady force punting the ball. The job looks like it belongs to journeyman Robert Malone, who has been with five organizations in the previous four years and never distinguished himself. Blake Clingan, who has never punted in an NFL game, will challenge him. Kicker Kai Forbath did not have an overwhelming 2013 season, making just 18-of- 22 attempts and going a mediocre 5-of-8 from 40 yards and beyond. He attempted only two over 50 yards last year. The Washington return game, which features Josh Morgan, is not so sturdy, and the team’s coverage units gave up a three TDs on punt returns and one on a kickoff. Clearly, there is room for an upgrade. Prediction The hiring of Jay Gruden was a good idea, but this team needs help before it can be a division champion again. The most important starting point is RGIII. If he’s ready to go, Washington will improve. But the defense must be stingier, and the offensive line has to deliver. SCOREBOARD 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 PLAYOFF FINISH - WC - - - WON-LOSS 3-13 10-6 5-11 6-10 4-12 POINTS/GAME 20.9 27.2 18.0 18.9 16.6 OPP POINTS/GAME 29.9 24.2 22.9 23.6 21.0 YARDS/GAME 369.7 383.2 336.7 337.0 312.5 YARDS/ALLOWED 354.1 377.7 339.8 389.3 319.7 TURNOVERS 34 14 35 31 28 TAKEAWAYS 26 31 21 27 17 Key Additions: WR DeSean Jackson, S Ryan Clark, DE Jason Hatcher, OL Mike McGlynn, LB Akeem Jordan, CB Tracy Porter, QB Colt McCoy Key Subtractions: LB London Fletcher, S Reed Doughty, LB Josh Hull, P Sav Rocca Rookies: LB Trent Murphy, OT Morgan Moses, G Spencer Long, CB Bashaud Breeland, WR Ryan Grant, RB Lache Seastrunk, TE Ted Bolser, P Zack Hocker DeSean Jackson DREW HALLOWELL/GETTY IMAGES SPORT


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