Here is what you need to know on this Monday, June 23, 31 days before the Redskins start training camp.
Yesterday we looked at five reasons for the Redskins to be optimistic about the 2014 season. Today it’s the other side of the coin, five reasons the team could struggle this season.
—The safety situation is shaky—Perhaps the Redskins should be applauded for not overpaying for safeties like Mike Mitchell and Jairus Byrd but one of the rewards for their fiscal restraint is a patched-together unit at safety. Ryan Clark is smart and a leader but the Steelers thought he’d lost too many steps. Brandon Meriweather likes to go headhunting and Bacarri Rambo and Phillip Thomas are woefully inexperienced.
—Injuries on the defensive line—There are three D-lineman over 30 who have had surgery in the last seven months. Barry Cofield (hernia), Stephen Bowen (knee, microfracture) and Jason Hatcher (knee, cleanup) are all likely to be ready to go when the season starts. But it remains to be seen if they can last once the seasons begins.
—A high-risk defensive scheme—It’s all about getting to the quarterback for this defense. If the pass rush doesn’t improve dramatically due to injuries, offensive adjustments, or any one of dozens of things that could go wrong, the weak secondary will be exposed.
—Offensive line in transition—It seems that Jay Gruden is going to utilize the outside zone run game that was so effective for the Redskins under Mike Shanahan but at the same time he wants bigger offensive linemen to protect the quarterback. This is a “have your cake and eat it, too” situation and how it shakes out will be vital to the team’s fortunes.
—A first-year head coach—It seems like Jay Gruden has his act together and the players seem to be responding to him positively. But they haven’t suffered a three-game losing streak yet. Gruden hasn’t yet made a questionable third-down decision and he hasn’t yet faced the wrath of fans who think he abandoned the run too early in a close loss. It remains to be seen how he reacts to such adversity.
—It’s been 176 days since the Redskins played a game; in 76 days they play the Texans in their 2014 season opener.
—Days until: Training camp 31; Preseason opener vs. Patriots 45; Home opener Jaguars @ Redskins 83
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