Can Three Rookies Change the Fortunes of Washington’s Secondary?

Can Meriweather Stay Healthy Enough to Contribute in Washington?

Can Meriweather Stay Healthy Enough to Contribute in Washington?

It has been a while since I took to pen and paper (or in this case: blogging), but my withdrawal from football and the Redskins has me back at it.

Let me start by saying that I am extremely optimistic about ‘the knee’, and don’t feel the need to further fuel that discussion. But if you want to discuss said topic, feel free to tune into any other major sports television network, radio show, blog, or anything else in between.

Instead, I want to take a dive into the much-discussed and often-maligned secondary of the Washington Redskins.

The 2012 season show cased a Washington team that we have not seen in over a decade. A power house rushing attack, potential to stretch the field, and the ability to score on any given play mad

e football in DC fun again. With talented young WR’s and two affable rookies, the offense carried the city of Washington to unexpected heights and success.

But amidst that success, the one part of the team that continually struck fear into every fans mind was the patchwork secondary. Losing Brandon Meriwaether and Tanard Jackson for all but a half of one game cost the Redskins at least one game (at New York) and allowed others to lurk (at New Orleans).

While the secondary is clearly a weakness, there were instances of hope. Meriweather’s lone half against Philadelphia was superb, and one of DeAngelo Hall’s finest performances couldn’t have come at a better time: the NFC East-clinching victory against Dallas.

(Side now: how is Dez Bryant ranked higher than Alfred Morris on NFL top 100 players of 2012? I’m baffled. Now back to the secondary)

Fast forward to the 2013 NFL draft. A draft, which I believe to be strong, brought in David Amerson (2nd round), Phillip Thomas (4th round), and Bacarri Rambo (6th round). Every one of them were touted ball hawks coming out of their respective colleges, and were brought in to improve a weak secondary lacking talent and depth (queue the Reed Doughty jokes).

This draft intrigues me more so than usual, because it offers a glimpse into the present and future of the Redskins defensive backfield. All three of those guys will see the field in some form this season. Whether it is as a starting player, role player, or special teams contributor, each of them are almost sure to make an impact.

Of those three guys, I believe Thomas has the inside track at starting. If Meriweather is healthy (a big if), one has to believe he will get the starting nod at Free Safety. This opens the Strong Safety position for Thomas. He has played there all spring/summer, and already passes the eyeball test in doing so. Will there be a learning curve? Absolutely. But between learning behind Reed Doughty, getting reps in the spring (and hopefully the summer), and a familiarity with this style of defense dating back to his college days, I believe that Thomas can quickly reach his potential with increased repetitions.

I am enamored with Bacarri Rambo. As my brother put it: “I am stoked about a guy whose jersey sales will trail only those of 12-inch bowie knives and red bandanas”. Awesome name aside, Rambo still needs more seasoning, but could be lethal on special teams. He is physical and talented enough to be a starter in this league, but could use a year of learning and seasoning behind Meriweather. This will allow him time to grow as a player and learn how to handle himself professionally.

David Amerson is a bit of a curious case. He was sensational his sophomore year in college, but fell in love with the interception and cost himself a first round pick. He has first round measurables and talent, but will his over-reliance on ball hawking make him a bust? Even if I am drinking the proverbial kool-aid here, I say no. In Amerson, I see a young DeAngelo Hall without the selfish attitude. With Raheem Morris and Jim Haslett looking on, Amerson has the talent and coaching staff to turn into a star. Whether he does or not, remains to be seen. However, he oozes talent and will be given some time before he is heavily counted on.

So, it begs the question: will this secondary improve from last year?

Frankly, I have no idea. The idea of relying on so many young players against the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Matt Ryan, Peyton AND Eli Manning, and Colin Kapernick (all on the Redskins schedule in 2013) is terrifying.

But I’m still excited about the future of this group. Hall will not be around much longer. Nor will Meriweather. That leaves us with a core of Amerson, Thomas, and Rambo, along with Richard Crawford and Chase Minnifield (if he ever becomes a contributor). It may not happen this year, or the next, but the team’s secondary has potential to make an impact for years to come.

Here is to hoping these players turn out the way we all envision. While the offense will continue to evolve and carry the burgundy and gold, the defense has the talent to push the Redskins into the top tier of the NFL.

Hail to the Redskins!

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