Are the Redskins improved at safety?

Are the Redskins improved at safety?
September 4, 2013, 11:45 am
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By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler

Countdown to kickoff question 6: Are the Redskins better at safety with Brandon Meriweather and Bacarri Rambo?

Robert Griffin III is back. So is Brian Orakpo. In all, the Redskins retained 21 of the 22 starters who led them to the NFC East title in 2012. But that doesn’t mean there aren’t any potential pitfalls as the new season approaches – because there are. Over the next week, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will identify and examine seven areas of concern going forward.

The Redskins ranked 30th in passing yards allowed in 2013 and yielded more passing touchdowns (31) than all but one team. Some of that was the lack of a consistent pass rush, which allowed quarterbacks ample time to deliver the ball. Some of it, though, was poor play in the secondary, particularly at safety. In fact, starting free safety Madieu Williams and reserve DeJon Gomes were the 62nd and 65th-ranked safeties, respectively, by Neither Williams nor Gomes are with the team now. Which brings us to today’s question: Will Brandon Meriweather and Bacarri Rambo provide a substantial lift?

El-Bashir: On the surface, the answers is yes, Meriweather and Rambo will be an improvement. It’s not a lock, though. Meriweather earned Pro Bowl berths in 2009 and 2010, but has started only five games (and appeared in only 12) the past two seasons. The 29-year-old was also limited to two quarters this preseason as he worked his way back from ACL surgery and missed Monday’s practice with a “tight” groin muscle. If Meriweather can knock off the rust and, most important, stay healthy, he’ll be an asset. Rambo, meantime, has shown the ability to learn and quickly apply those lessons on the field as he figures out one of the game’s most complex positions on the fly. My guess is that there will be a steep learning curve for the rookie as opposing teams unveil their real offenses, not the vanilla versions he faced in the exhibition season. By the end of Monday night’s game, we’ll know exactly were the Redskins stand in respect to safety play. 

Tandler: The safety tandem of Rambo and Meriweather will be one of the better ones in the NFL—sometime after the Redskins’ Week 5 by, that is. Rambo seems like a fast learner but he will have growing pains, especially dealing with the receivers the Redskins will face in the first few weeks of the season—DeSean Jackson, Randall Cobb, and Calvin Johnson. It seems likely he’ll be chasing one or two of those guys across the goal line this month. Meriweather just needs to get healthy. He probably won’t be as good for 800 snaps as he was for 44 snaps in the one game he played last year but he can be a solid contributor in the Redskins’ defensive scheme once his knee is good to go. That might not be until the bye week.

Upcoming on Countdown to Kickoff

  • Question 5 Thursday: Will defenses slam the door on the read option?
  • Question 4 Friday: Can Orakpo help make the Redskins pass rush a disruptive force?
  • Question 3 Saturday: Can Garçon be a 1000-yard receiver?

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