Redskins: Dream/nightmare scenario

Yes, the start of training camps is two months away, but it’s never too early to consider the coming season. A look at the best-case and worst-case scenarios for the Redskins in 2012.

Dream scenario (9-7): This would mean Washington's first winning season since 2007, Joe Gibbs' final year as head coach. What has to happen to make it a reality? Well, lots, frankly. Robert Griffin III will need to be very good right away at taking care of the ball and limiting the kinds of mistakes it's reasonable to expect from rookie quarterbacks. Most important, the Redskins' offense must play very well around him. They'll need health from Tim Hightower and continued development from promising fellow running backs Roy Helu and Evan Royster. They'll need Pierre Garcon to play like the potential No. 1 wideout his free-agent price tag says they believe he can be. They'll need the offensive line to stay healthy and play well, with left tackle Trent Williams as its anchor. The Redskins' dream scenario sees Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan cementing their place among the league's top pass-rushing duos, DeAngelo Hall harnessing his ability and playing like a top corner, and something emerging from the muddle they take to training camp at safety. The defense looked like a young defense on the rise last year, and if the Redskins are to threaten or possibly exceed .500, it will have to continue that rise.

Nightmare scenario (5-11): That would mean the same record as last year and one game worse than the year before, and it would drop Mike Shanahan's three-year record as the team's head coach to a rather uninspiring 16-32. That would be what's called, in official NFL terms, "not good." In the Redskins' nightmare scenario, Griffin struggles with the transition, the wide receiver group is as uninspiring as Washington's free-agency critics believe it is, and the offensive line falls apart thanks to injury for the second year in a row. In the nightmare scenario, the secondary remains a big-time weakness of the defense and costs the Redskins dearly in division games against the likes of Eli Manning, Tony Romo and Michael Vick. If all of this happens, the Redskins would enter the 2013 offseason with far more to fix than they currently believe they do, and with questions about Shanahan's future as coach. I don't think there's much that can happen to wreck the Griffin honeymoon between now and January, but if the rest of the team plays well around him and he commits too many turnovers, that particular nightmare scenario could make Redskins fans nervous about the new franchise quarterback going into next season.