NBC Sports online site Pro Football Talk published its early NFL pre-season power rankings yesterday, placing Washington in the 24th spot among all NFL teams in terms of overall team strength. PFT writer Josh Alpern turns in a balanced and savvy appraisal of the strengths and weaknesses of this year’s Redskins team. I must say, I concur in the majority of his assessment, including the ranking. Too much is still unknown about the 2012 Redskins to rank them any higher.
Listed as strengths for Redskins are outside linebacker tandem Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan. Their mild-mannered public personas aside, we can fully expect these two to be dispensing special angry linebacker greetings from Washington in the backfield’s of opposing teams this year. I believe Orakpo has something to prove, and this is the year he may do it. It’s hard to imagine, but Ryan Kerrigan will almost certainly be better in the coming year. Inside linebacker is also rated on the plus side in 2102, led again by stalwart London Fletcher, who led the league in tackles last season. Perry Riley is poised to have a huge year. Tight end is counted as a strength for the Skins as well, with 4th year player Fred Davis expected to lead Cooley and hybrid tight end Niles Paul. The Skins are counting on major offensive production from at least two of these players.
Alpern counts the offensive line, the defensive line, and the defensive secondary as problem areas for the skins. He states that Cofield, Bowen, and Carriker are coming off of subpar seasons. I couldn’t disagree more. I believe defensive line to be a strength of the team, especially with the addition of Jarvis Jenkins. The O-line is still an unknown, I agree. A lot is riding on the health of Kory Lichtenstein. Trent Williams must step it up a notch to where he belongs. There is an intensity missing there. We don’t yet know which, if any, of the new offensive line draft picks will step up and contribute. Griffin will in all likelihood get his chance to do some running.
Also noted as a change is the addition of Garcon and Morgan into the lineup. This group must flourish, especially in the first six games, where the matchups are fairly favorable in comparison with the rest of the season’s schedule. While no one questions Griffin’s talent, he is an unknown in NFL game situations. I don’t believe I’ve ever seen him tackled in an NFL uniform as yet. I definitely need to see that occur before I make any further comment on Griffin the NFL quarterback.
PFT also points out that training camp is likely to feature a camp battle between running backs. This is true, although in Shanahan’s system, there probably is no real number one guy. Expectations are that Hightower will start if healthy. The kicking battle between Gano and Rackers is mentioned. I love a good kicking battle, don’t you?