The Washington Redskins started last season off 6-3, atop the NFC East with a matchup against the Houston Texans. Late in the third quarter, QB Alex Smith dropped back to make a pass, JJ Watt and Kareem Jackson came on the blitz and sacked him; severely breaking his leg in the process.
Then two weeks later on a Monday Night game in Philly, long-time backup Colt McCoy fractures his leg on a rollout when he slipped. This effectively ended the season. With Mark Sanchez and Josh Johnson as your starting QBs, you have no shot at making the playoffs. They went 1-6 down the stretch, finishing 7-9. They missed the playoffs for the third straight season, and some believed this would be Jay Gruden’s last season as the head coach, but the team brought him back for one last go-around.
Gruden has a lot to prove this year. This team is full of hungry individuals, who have something to prove and feel like they can make a run into the postseason. Just because the team doesn’t have that shiny name like a Baker Mayfield, OBJ, Antonio Brown, etc., doesn’t mean they can’t make some noise.
DJ Swearinger was released the day after their Week 16 loss to Tennessee for his postgame comments about the coaching staff, mainly Defensive Coordinator Greg Manusky. 2015 draftees Preston Smith (Green Bay Packers), Jamison Crowder (New York Jets), and Ty Nsekhe (Buffalo Bills) all left in free agency to pursue more money and/or an increased role on a different team. HaHa Clinton-Dix left to sign with the Chicago Bears on a one-year deal. Dix and Washington had mutual interest on a deal, but Dix wanted to prove himself in a down year, so Washington let him walk.
They released both starting ILBs Zach Brown and Mason Foster before the preseason was underway. Brown finishing top-10 in tackles in 2017, and Foster in 2018, the two struggled with consistencies in different parts of their games.
Recently Josh Doctson and Samaje Perine were waived as a part of cutting the week one 53-man roster. Doctson was cut from lack of production, the former 1st round pick accumulated just over 1000 yards and 8 TDs in three seasons. Perine was just the odd man out in a crowded backfield with the return of AP, Derrius Guice, and Chris Thompson.
Additional Losses: Mo Harris, Byron Marshall
Washington was relatively quiet in free agency. The only outside FA of notability was S Landon Collins, signing him from the division rival NY Giants. They traded for starting QB Case Keenum, exchanging a 6th round pick for 7th round pick and the QB, this gives Washington much-needed depth at the QB position. They also drafted QB Dwayne Haskins and OLB Montez Sweat in the first round of the NFL Draft. Haskins gives the team a long term answer, on they have no had since RG3 back in 2012. Sweat gives them that speed rusher across from veteran Ryan Kerrigan. Adding depth later in the draft with players like Wes Martin, Ross Pierschbacher, Terry McClaurin, Cole Holcomb, and Jimmy Moreland, the Redskins have a feeling they can produce on the defensive end and strengthen up that run game.
Other Additions: Domonique Rodgers-Cromartie, Ereck Flowers, Jon Bostic
The defense is clearly the strong point of this team, mainly that defensive line. Johnathan Allen, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis are going to be a line that you should be fearing for years to come. Adding Landon Collins brings a player who is hungry, feels he has something to prove, and someone who will play hard while being a leader on the field. Bringing back Josh Norman provides another vet who can come out and lockdown like one of the best CBs in football. Jimmy Moreland and DRC are pure defensive playmakers in the passing game. They can both catch about 6 INTs combined, and those momentum-changing plays can do a lot for a defense that isn’t expected to score a lot of points or move the ball with any regularity.
Trent Williams still has not reported to the team, has vowed to never return, and has kept that same stance over the whole preseason. But with recent reports of former teammate DeAngelo Hall saying Trent is returning “sooner than later”, so this brings light to a dark offseason situation.
Without that big named WR, this offense has no expectations but can sneak up on you. Predicting their top 5 pass catchers for the season, Jordan Reed, Steven Sims Jr., Chris Thompson, Trey Quinn, and Paul Richardson. Reed if healthy, had the opportunity to lead way with about 1000 yards. Barring injury of course, because all the players on this list from last year struggled with injuries heavily.
Their main yard-producer will come from the three-headed horse in Derruis Guice, Adrian Peterson, and Chris Thompsom throwing some yardage in there. Combined they are going to have about 1600-2000 yards between the three main RBs.
The Redskins have the talent to finish anywhere from 6-10 to 10-6, so conventional wisdom would say about 8-8 when splitting the difference. The games are not going to be pretty if it’s the same case as last year, with the team having about a mid-tier offense, with a top 10 defense that many teams will hate to face, especially come late season if the team stays healthy.