The last two decades have been more disappointing than memorable for the Washington Redskins, and it seems like offseason analyses often center around the team's multiple weaknesses instead of its strengths.
2013 is a different story. For the first time in what seems like forever, the Redskins will enter the season with more answers than questions and will continue looking to build the core of last year's squad.
That being said, there are still needs to be addressed.
The Redskins are still a young team with weaknesses, and those deficiencies could come back to bite them as the season progresses. Here are three areas of the game where Washington could use some help as fans turn their gaze to the upcoming season.
All is not well in the deep secondary despite Washington making some good moves in the draft. Safety remains the biggest issue on the team, and there doesn't seem to be a quick fix.
As it stands, Brandon Meriweather and Reed Doughty appear to be the guys to man the position, with Phillip Thomas waiting in the wings since Doughty will probably be on a short leash.
There's potential among these three, but nothing to be particularly comfortable with. Meriweather was decent in limited action last season and Doughty was his generally unspectacular self.
Thomas will undoubtedly require some time before he can step in as a starter.
Still, the unit as a whole looks better than last year's mess. Safety play will almost certainly not be as abysmal as it was in 2012, and that's all the Redskins can really ask for.
For this position to have a successful year, Meriweather needs to stay healthy and Thomas must develop quickly. Washington's schemes will likely do a better job of hiding the inadequacies of the unit, but the team's play will be dictated by how consistently the deep men can prevent big plays and third down conversions.
The future is looking up, but this remains the biggest issue on the squad.
Frankly, safety is the only true deficiency the Redskins have.
Cornerback is a little iffy, but the return of DeAngelo Hall ensured that there would be two competent players manning the corners. Right tackle is somewhat questionable but not really a major concern, and Kirk Cousins allays any fear of a significant drop-off if Robert Griffin III re-injures himself.
Because of this, it becomes necessary to be a bit nit-picky when diagnosing the weaknesses on this team.
We're stuck looking at what might be an issue as apposed to what will be an issue.
Inside linebacker is one of the those positions. London Fletcher—despite the iron man that he is—will be 38 before the season's first game and Perry Riley—despite being a quality player—isn't a game-breaker.
There's nothing wrong with this unit per se, but an injury to Fletcher (or if he loses another step, which is completely in the realm of possibility) could really make things interesting. There isn't much depth and it could throw off the entire flow of the defense.
In addition, the Redskins need to make sure they address this position in the near future because, as much as everyone may hate to admit it, Fletcher won't be around forever. He and Riley will be a solid tandem in 2013, but there's no clear plan for when Fletcher retires.
This will be the Redskins' biggest priority by the end of the season.
Offensive Line Depth
The big guys up front are often taken for granted—but not in Washington.
It seems as though every year, the Redskins suffer through a multitude of injuries to the front five and never have a cohesive unit for 16 games.
That changed in 2012, when the starters played the vast majority of the snaps together. But the chances of such good fortune again are very low.
Trent Williams, Kory Lichtensteiger, Will Montgomery, Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus were as good an offensive line as there was in football last season, doing a solid job of protecting RGIII and leading the way for the NFL's leading rushing offense.
But who is behind them? That's where things get dicey.
Tony Pashos, Jeremy Trueblood, Maurice Hurt and Josh LeRibeus are among the cavalcade of players vying for backup spots. None are particularly accomplished or talented, and if the Redskins face a rash of injuries to the starters, it could get messy up front, as the team will have to make adjustments to keep their game plan on track.
And with that, we look forward to 2013.
Redskins fans have learned over the past several years never to expect too much from the burgundy and gold. But there has never been a brighter future in Washington.
For those fans who doubt the team's ability to repeat as division champs, just take a look at the roster—there aren't many weaknesses.
Quarterback, running back, tight end, offensive line and wide receiver are all pretty much set on the offensive side.
The defensive line, linebackers and cornerbacks are looking mostly solid.
The coaching staff is as good as any in the NFL.
As of right now, it looks like the Washington Redskins will be fielding a very, very good football team in 2013.