As we count down to the first game of the Redskins’ season, Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler are going to be looking at some of the big questions facing the team and attempting to look into their crystal balls and answer them.
Question 18: Can Brandon Meriweather get the job done at strong safety?
The background: Just over a year ago, it looked like Meriweather was a star on the rise. At age 27 he was coming off of back-to-back Pro Bowl appearances with the Patriots. But Bill Belichick decided that he wasn’t in the team’s plans and he was released at the end of training camp. The Bears picked him up, started him for four games and then benched him. They let him go this spring and the Redskins became his third NFL team in the past calendar year. Can two teams’ trash become the third teams’ treasure?
Tandler: The Redskins say that Meriweather was not a fit in Chicago’s Cover 2 defensive scheme and that his skills are better suited to their defense. Observation of Meriweather during practice indicates that the Redskins may be right. He is much more comfortable lining up close to the line of scrimmage and moving forward at the snap rather than staying back and moving laterally or backwards. The key will be keeping Meriweather in his comfort zone. They will best utilize him by having him blitz, play the short zone, or set the edge in run defense. If they rely on him to be the last line of defense against deep passes very often, they are asking for trouble. Meriweather can be a solid player if he used in the right role in the right situations.
El-Bashir: In limited action this preseason, it can be argued that Meriweather’s been the Redskins’ most active defensive back. Having played roughly two quarters, he’s been in on five tackles and defended a pass. But there are legitimate concerns about his health after he suffered a left knee injury Saturday in Chicago that neither the team nor the player has been forthcoming about. We’ve been told that surgery is not required and he won‘t suit up the remainder of this preseason. But when will he return? Until Meriweather shows he’s 100-percent recovered, it might be wise to reserve judgment on the impact he’ll have this season, particularly early. But amid uncertainty, we do know this much: given the Redskins’ struggles last season at safety, there’s only direction it can go in 2012.
20 questions in 20 days