Washington Redskins: You Like That?
NFC East Champions.
You liked that?
This time last year the gents did power rankings and unanimously we all placed Washington into the bottom 3 teams in the league. We felt that the heady cocktail of swirling QB controversy and the massive roster turd Mike Shanahan left on the desk before he slithered away would make them utterly unwatchable for at least one season. Well we were wrong. Sort of.
Jay Gruden’s decision to dub RG3 the Number 2 QB on the roster behind a relatively unproven Kirk Cousins seemed sound given Griffin’s regression, but still made me feel certain that Washington would be a 4-12 team in the NFC East. By week 9 they were a 3-5 team with an anaemic offense, a schizophrenic running game and a leaky run defense that in six games between weeks
Then lots of little things all happened all at once. Tony Romo was injured again and Dallas returned to being terrible. The Eagles regressed and regressed until they became a parody. And the Giants, who never got started to begin with locked themselves in the garage put the key in the ignition and…..well…
DeSean Jackson returned from injury at mid season, and Kirk Cousins grew into the role of being a very accurate, very smart West Coast QB comfortable with scheme and personnel alike.
The Redskins team that finished the season rode a stunningly accurate and productive Cousins to a Wildcard berth and along the way discovered their previously unknown QB was a true competitor (albeit a supremely nerdy one). The growth of Jordan Reed in that offense was a real boon. And while everyone else in the division was busy shooting themselves in the face, Washington hit a second half of the season purple patch and skidded sideways and a little on fire into the playoffs.
What we needed was someone to put them out of their misery. And then we thought, wait, no, we like Kirk Cousins and Washington are actually very watchable and fun. And just as we started to love them for all their little quirks it was then that the Packers showed up
Washington were never going to go that far, it is nigh on impossible to make the playoffs if you cant run, or stop the run and I give Cousin’s and Gruden a Ton of credit for managing to even get them into the postseason. Nice work chaps and yes, I liked that.
The draft was a decent enough one for Washington. First rounder Josh Doctson gives them a potentially big-bodied redzone threat to complement Jordan Reed and drafting Sua Craven at Outside linebacker is a step in the right direction in shoring up the Defense against the run as was the addition of Matthew Ioannidis at DT.
Free Agency saw them swoop for Free agent cornerback Josh Norman, a corner who, on paper, is an excellent system fit and who alongside gifted second year Corner Bashaud Breeland and veteran DB DeAngelo Hall, gives that secondary a “better than you think” feel to them. In fact the whole defense has that “sneakily good” thing about them.
Will I still like that??
Well, the problem is this. We dont know for certain wether Kirk Cousins 2015 was a mirage ( I think not, but I have been wrong before) , and to all intents and purposes the Running game is actually a little bit worse than last year with Alfred Morris gone to the Cowboys. This means Matt Jones is the only running back on the roster with any kind of track record of week to week production in the league.
Having said that I think the Redskins are the one team in the NFC East most likely to live upto their potential and maximise their talent. They are also the NFC east team with the most stable roster this year ( trust me, continuity, and a short injury report counts for a lot!). I am willing to bet that they finish above .500 and sneak into postseason. I also think they are the team in the East with the lowest floor.
If you put a gun to my head and told me to support an NFC East team or die. I would pick Washington. Anyone else and I would seriously consider the bullet.
Prediction 10-6 due to a very good secondary and generally improved defense.