Hello, folks. Now that the Redskins have concluded spring practices, we’ve entered the greatest lull in the NFL’s calendar. Coaches and players, except those who continue to rehabilitate injuries, are on vacation until they report to training camp in Richmond on July 24.
This provides us media members a six-week opportunity to recharge our minds and bodies before the season and to consider how the team as presently constructed might fare in 2013.
I’m on the record with my belief that the Redskins’ were smart to maintain roster continuity in light of their crippling $18 million salary cap penalty. And because the Redskins retained 21 of 22 first-stringers from last year’s division championship team, we know what strengths and weakness to expect from this year’s group.
After winning the franchise’s first division title since 1999, Mike Shanahan’s goal in the fourth year of his building project should be to establish dominance. Don’t stick around 10 wins and the fringe of the playoffs. Become a team that consistently wins 12 games and competes for first-round playoff byes. That wouldn’t guarantee a Super Bowl appearance, but it would increase the chances. And in this league marked by parity and turnover, that’s all a team could ask for.
In today’s paper, I discussed five reasons why the Redskins will repeat their division title and five reasons they won’t. I believe both sides of the argument are compelling. To take it a step further, the balance in the debate indicates the Redskins have a way to go in order to establish themselves as an elite team with the likes of New England, Green Bay and San Francisco.
I believe the Redskins are capable of reaching such heights if quarterback Robert Griffin III plays 16 games at the level we know he’s capable of. If Griffin is on the field and continues to progress, as expected, I envision a high ceiling for the team. I think they could win 12, maybe 13, games and compete for the conference title.
That’s a big ‘if,’ though, and there are as many reasons to expect a small step back as there are to expect more progress. It will be fun to see how it plays out.