LAST season the ‘skins went 2-4 in the division and 4-12 overall. That fourth win represents one more than this team had in 2013, so I guess fans can be comforted knowing that they got better. The sad part is that they finished on the floor of the division again.
Even sadder is the QB controversy that waged at season’s opening about whether the team should go with Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin, was only made worse after Griffin was (gasp!) injured again. Cousins came in was unspectacular and was benched. This set the stage for the highpoint of the Redskins year, when 3rd string, journeyman Colt McCoy put down the Dallas Cowboys 20-17, in their own home, during a nationally televised game. Ultimately this added a third name to the ever raging QB controversy and the question of whether or not the ‘skins gave up too much for Griffin.
This is where they were at seasons end. What follows is where they are as of 4/15/15.
QB: I’m tickled that the Redskins have made their QB situation into a problem. In reality the only problem is Griffin’s inability to stay healthy. Last year between 3 QB’s, they maintained a team completion percentage of 66.5, and threw a combined 18 interceptions. While that number is a little high for a 15-16 game starter, with as much switching out of QB’s as Washington had, that number is actually pretty low. If they would settle on a clear #2 and stick to that, their QB situation would be one worth envying. (-)
RB: For the second straight year Alfred Morris has seen his carries, rushing yards, yards per carry and yards from scrimmage decline. It’s a frightening trend considering that Roy Helu is now in Oakland, leaving Silas Redd as the most dangerous option behind Morris. To his credit Morris has never missed a game, so a vote against this position would be weird, but understand: this vote does come with reservations. (+)
WR: Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, and Andre Roberts should have been more dangerous last year, but the Redskins gave themselves QB problems, which affected the passing games chemistry. Despite that, this trio put up 2,300 yards and grabbed 160 receptions, with Jackson tearing the lid off of coverages with a whopping 20.9 per catch average. That same group comes back this year, and if the QB play is any better, this group will be a problem. (+)
TE: Wanna hear a joke? Jordan Reed is the talented one, but he plays the least because he’s brittle. Niles Paul is the most dependable one, but he’s considered undersized at just an inch shorter than Reed. Logan Paulsen is the least talented TE (possibly in the division), but he gets the starts. (-)
OL: 58 sacks allowed. 33 alone on franchise QB Griffin. It was this way the year before as well. So far no moves were made to significantly upgrade this unit. At this point there’s no reason to believe it won’t be a liability again. (-)
In a nutshell: This offense has the pieces, but the coaching staff seems hell bent to work against itself. The idea that 58 sacks were allowed last year, but only ONE O-line starter was replaced is a farce. That sort of thinking is part and parcel of why this team keeps failing.(-)
DE: Jason Hatcher wasn’t bad for the ‘skins last year but he did trail off towards the end. Kenrick Golston was completely underwhelming. That may be why Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea (both listed as DT’s) were brought in. Many 3-4 lines are satisfied if their linemen eat up blockers, but the Redskins seem to want theirs to actually make plays. Well now the ‘skins have the horse that can do it. (+)
NT: Chris Baker owns this spot. And he’s almost as good at playing nose tackle as he is at doling out cheap shots on QB’s. (+)
OLB: The ‘skins decided they’d had enough of oft injured Brian Orakpo (Titans). While it leaves them less explosive on the edge, it would be a mistake to say that their now less dangerous. Ryan Kerrigan is still the best OLB in the division and Trent Murphy was solid as a rookie playing in relief of Orakpo. Jackson Jeffcoat (son of Jim) was added for depth and could be an intriguing option as a relief player. (+)
ILB: While the Redskins don’t seem to have any bonafide playmakers on the inside, what they have is a trio of guys who know the system and are used to working with each other. At the very least that’s stability. (+)
S: This position was a liability last year so the ‘skins ran out and grabbed Dashon Goldson and Jeron Johnson. It’s unclear how that’s supposed to help with Johnson not having much experience; Goldson making fewer plays against the pass each year for the last three; and both of them thrown into a new system with only Ryan Clark as a mentor despite being himself a washed-up, failed experiment as a Redskin. (-)
CB: It’s time to shake the hands of DeAngelo Hall and Tracy Porter, give them each a gold watch and send them on their way. Perhaps that’s what the brass was thinking when they grabbed Chris Culliver. Last year we found out that David Amerson is just a guy. Given the weakened state of the safeties, I think the corners here will struggle for another year. (-)
In a nutshell: Same as last year. Good front seven, spotty secondary. In a passing league that’s the kiss of death. (-)
P: Tress Way boasted a 40 yard net last year on punts that averaged 47. Not bad for a rookie. (+)
K: Kai Forbath is a decent option here. His leg isn’t a cannon, but he’s accurate. (+)
RS: Andre Roberts got stuck as the PR/KR guy last year and the results were sad. (-)
Bottom Line: This team has the parts, but as is often the problem with offense-minded Head Coaches, the team is locked into one way of looking at things and so only one way can be the right way, even if it keeps being proven wrong on the scoreboard and in the W/L column. This is a team that could easily win the division, but they’ll probably talk themselves out of it again.