Washington Redskins 2014 NFL Season Preview

Quarterback

The Redskins declined significantly in 2013, going from 10-6 and in the playoffs to 3-13 and the 2nd worst team in the league last season. To make matters worse, they didn’t have their own first round pick this year, thanks to the RG3 trade made in 2012, so they don’t have the luxury of adding a top caliber talent to this team. Why did they decline last season? Well, teams that have big win total improvements, like the Redskins did in 2012, going from 5-11 to 10-6, tend to decline by an average of half that total. The Redskins obviously declined by more than that, but it’s just an average and it shows that teams that have big win improvements tend to do it on the backs of unsustainable things.

For the Redskins, that unsustainable thing was the turnover margin as they finished with a +16 turnover margin in 2012. That type of thing tends to be very tough to depend on. Teams with a turnover margin of +4 in a week on average have the same turnover margin the next week as a team that had a turnover margin of -4 the previous week, a turnover margin of about +0.0. Meanwhile, teams that have a turnover margin of +15 or better in a season see their turnover margins drop by an average of about 15.8 the following season, resulting in 2.32 fewer wins. Teams with a turnover margin of -15 or worse in a season have an average turnover margin the following season of +2.04.

Meanwhile, teams with a turnover margin of +15 or better in a season have an average turnover margin the following season of +3.42, a difference of about 1.38. If you’re using a team’s turnover margin from the previous season as a reason why they’re going to continue to struggle (or have success) the next season, it’s usually not going to work out well. It was unreasonable to expect RG3 to continue throwing an interception on just 1.3% of his throws. No quarterback has ever kept that up for a career (1.8% is the best all-time career interception rate). It was also unreasonable to expect the Redskins to continue recovering 67.39% of their fumbles, as that always tends to even out towards 50% in the long-run.

On top of that, RG3 declined significantly last season, and not just in terms of interceptions. As a rookie, he completed 65.6% of his passes for an average of 8.14 YPA, 20 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions, while rushing for 815 yards and 7 touchdowns on 120 carries (6.79 YPC). Last season, he completed 60.1% of his passes for an average of 7.02 YPA, 16 touchdowns, and 12 interceptions, while rushing for 489 yards and no touchdowns on 86 carries (5.69 YPC). He went from Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked quarterback to their 26th.

He also was shut down for the final 3 games of the season and Kirk Cousins struggled mightily in his absence, completing 52.3% of his passes for an average of 5.51 YPA, 4 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions, effectively killing any trade value he might have had. Even in the 13 games when RG3 played, the Redskins moved the chains at a 71.73% rate, which would have been 17th in the NFL over a full season. That simply wasn’t good enough as their defense was horrific, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 74.56% rate, 24th in the NFL.

The good news is he should bounce back this season. Most of his struggles last season were the result of the torn ACL he suffered in January of 2013. He was able to make it back for week 1, but it clearly limited him. Even Tom Brady struggled, by his standards, in his first year back from his torn ACL and Griffin is much more reliant on his legs and had less time to recover (Brady’s injury was in September). Griffin won’t match his insanely low interception rate from his rookie year, but he should be noticeably improved over last season, both running and throwing the ball.

Griffin is still a special talent when healthy and will prove to be worth what the Redskins gave up for him over the long-term. The wild card for Griffin and the rest of this offense is that offensive minded head coach Mike Shanahan was fired and replaced with former Cincinnati offensive coordinator Jay Gruden. Shanahan is a two-time Super Bowl winning head coach and his system worked masterfully in 2012, but it didn’t work nearly as well in 2013 and he’s coached some other poor offenses in the past. Gruden, meanwhile, is an unknown as a head coach. We’ll see how he and his new offensive scheme affect this offense.

Grade: B+

Wide Receivers/Tight Ends

While the Redskins did have a hobbled Griffin for 13 games last season and then they lost him for 3 games, they, overall, didn’t have a lot of injuries, as they finished 4th in adjusted games lost. Griffin should be healthier this season, but they will have more injuries around him, which is why I don’t totally buy that this team, overall, has the talent to get back into the playoffs. One player who missed a significant amount of time with injury in 2012 who stayed on the field in 2013 was wide receiver Pierre Garcon.

Garcon missed 6 games and was limited in others in 2012, in the first year of a 5-year, 42.5 million dollar deal that was highly speculative when he signed it because he had never had a 1000 yard season in four years with the Colts, three with Peyton Manning. However, Garcon still flashed in 2012 on 403 snaps, grading out well above average and catching 44 passes for 633 yards and 4 touchdowns on 215 routes run, an average of 2.94 yards per route run that was 2nd best in the NFL. Given that he did that with a bad foot, it was very promising for 2013.

He wasn’t quite as efficient in 2013, but that’s to be expected considering he had significantly more playing time and his quarterback play was significantly worse. He was still really good, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 26th ranked wide receiver. He caught 113 catches on 174 targets (64.9%) for 1346 yards and 5 touchdowns on 615 routes run, an average of 2.19 yards per route run, 12th in the NFL. He was largely a volume receiver, catching primarily underneath targets, with only 25 catches 10+ yards downfield, and finishing 2nd in the NFL in targets, so he wasn’t quite as good as his numbers suggested. However, he should be even more efficient this season as a possession receiver with a healthy Griffin and DeSean Jackson coming in to take some of the defense’s attention off of him and open up the short-to-intermediate part of the field.

As I just mentioned, to help Robert Griffin bounce back, the Redskins signed DeSean Jackson, after the Eagles cut him. There were rumors that the Eagles cut him because of gang ties, but more likely, they cut him because they just didn’t feel he was worth his 10.7 million dollar salary, even coming off of the best season of his career. Jackson was Pro Football Focus’ 8th ranked wide receiver last season, catching 82 passes for 1332 yards and 9 touchdowns, all either career highs or tying career highs. He caught 68.9% of his targets and averaged 2.45 yards per route run, 6th in the NFL.

However, the Eagles still cut him because they felt he was largely a product of Chip Kelly’s system, because of his inconsistent past, and because of his salary. The Redskins are paying him less money, 24 million over 3 years, so it’s not a bad value, but expecting him to be the player he was last season is a little short-sighted. From his rookie year in 2008 to 2012, Jackson maxed out as Pro Football Focus’ 34th ranked wide receiver. He’s not historically nearly as efficient as he showed himself to be last season. He could have another strong year, but I doubt he reaches last year’s numbers.

While the Redskins didn’t have a lot of injuries last season, one player who did miss a significant period of time that really hurt them was Jordan Reed. Reed, a 3rd round rookie last season, missed 7 games with concussions, but still graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked tight end last season despite playing just 384 snaps. He was very well-rounded too, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 10th ranked pass catching tight end and 13th ranked run blocking tight end.

Reed caught 45 passes on 60 attempts (75.0%) for 499 yards and 4 touchdowns on 228 routes run, an average of 2.19 yards per route run, 3rd in the NFL. If he stays healthy, he could have a breakout year in 2014. He probably won’t be as efficient as he was last season with more snaps, but he’ll have better quarterback play. He won’t be targeted as often with Jackson coming in, but he’ll have more room to operate in with Jackson downfield taking the defense’s attention off of the short-to-intermediate part of the field. Assuming the trio of Jackson, Garcon, and Reed stays healthy (as is the case with any player), they could be one of the best trios of pass catchers in the NFL.

After that trio, the Redskins have experienced depth in the receiving corps, but the talent isn’t really there. At wide receiver, they signed Andre Roberts to a 4-year deal worth 16 million this off-season. He’ll line up as their primary slot receiver this season. The Redskins really struggled for depth at wide receiver last season, as, other than Pierre Garcon, no wide receiver graded out above average on Pro Football Focus. Santana Moss was Pro Football Focus’ 107th ranked wide receiver out of 111 eligible in terms of pure pass catching grade.

Things won’t be much better this season though, outside of Garcon, Jackson, and Reed. Roberts was a slot receiver last season in Arizona. However, he’s graded out below average in each of the 4 seasons he’s been in the league, including 102nd out of 105 eligible in 2012 and 111th out of 114 eligible in 2011. Meanwhile, Logan Paulsen will be the #2 tight end. He’s been the Redskins’ leading tight end in terms of snaps played over the past 2 seasons because of injuries to Fred Davis and Jordan Reed respectively. He’s probably better suited to be a #2 tight end, grading out below average in 2 of the 3 seasons he’s been in the league and played more than 100 snaps, since going undrafted in 2010. Last season, he was Pro Football Focus’ 60th ranked tight end out of 64 eligible. There’s more talent in the receiving corps than there was last season, but there are still some issues outside of the talented trio of Garcon, Jackson, Reed.

Grade: B+

Offensive Line

I mentioned that the Redskins had very few injuries last season. Their healthiest unit last year was the offensive line. The same starting 5 played every snap last season except 20 snaps. No offensive line had fewer snaps missed by their original starting five last season and they ranked tied for first in adjusted games lost by an offensive line (tied with Chicago). That’s unlikely to continue this season, which is unfortunate for the Redskins because they had pretty solid offensive line play last season, ranking 4th in pass blocking grade and 9th in run blocking grade. The reason for that is twofold. One, they’re unlikely to have as few injuries as last season. Two, they are switching blocking schemes with Jay Gruden coming in and they will have maximum 3 starters from 2013 in the same position that they started 16 games in last season. They could have as few as one such starter if a couple things go a certain way.

That one starter locked into the same position he was in last season is Trent Williams and with good reason. Williams played 1170 snaps out of 1172 snaps possible last season at left tackle and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked offensive tackle last season. Joe Thomas was the better pass protector last season, which is much more important for a left tackle, and he has the more proven history, but Williams might be the 2nd best offensive tackle in the game. He’s graded out above average on Pro Football Focus in each of the past 3 seasons, grading out 27th in 2011 and 16th in 2012.

The 4th overall pick in 2010, he has finally reached his potential and could easily continue be dominant in the future, only going into his age 26 season. He might not be #1 again, but I expect more dominance from him. He’s going into his contract year and the Redskins are reportedly in discussions with him to make him the highest paid offensive tackle in the league. He was the primary reason why their offensive line graded out so well last season.

Kory Lichtensteiger will continue to start on the offensive line, but, with the team transitioning from the zone blocking scheme they ran under Mike Shanahan, he’ll move from left guard at center. Lichtensteiger graded out slightly above average last season, but he’s never started a game at center and graded out below average in both 2010 and 2012, the other two seasons he was a starter in the NFL. In 2012, he was Pro Football Focus’ 71st ranked guard out of 81 eligible. If I had to guess, he’s more likely to grade out below average rather than above average this season at center.

Taking his spot at left guard will be Shawn Lauvao, who they massively overpaid on a 4-year, 17 million dollar deal this off-season. The new coaching staff likes the 6-3 315 pounder’s scheme fit, but he struggled mightily in the first 4 years of his career in Cleveland, after being drafted in the 3rd round in 2010. He graded out below average in each of those 4 seasons, including 3 seasons as a starter. He was Pro Football Focus’ 70th ranked guard out of 81 eligible in 2013. He’s not a starting caliber player, even if the coaching staff thinks he is. The Redskins’ scheme change forced them to cut the inexpensive Will Montgomery (Pro Football Focus’ 15th ranked center last season), move Lichtensteiger out of position, and sign Lauvao to a starter quality deal. It’s a downgrade overall.

The only starter to grade out below average last season for the Redskins was right guard Chris Chester. Chester, owed 3 million non-guaranteed, is a popular cap casualty candidate going into his age 31 season. He could easily be cut if he loses his position battle to 3rd round rookie Spencer Long. Having to start a 3rd round rookie wouldn’t be great for the Redskins, but it’s a possibility considering Chester is aging, struggled last year, and isn’t a good scheme fit. Chester was Pro Football Focus’ 47th ranked guard out of 81 eligible last season, though the veteran had graded out above average in 4 of 5 seasons from 2008-2012.

At right tackle, the Redskins have another veteran competing with a 3rd round rookie to remain at the same position where he started last season. That veteran is Tyler Polumbus, who graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 18th ranked offensive tackle last season. As well as he played last season, there are legitimate reasons why he’s facing competition from 3rd round rookie Morgan Moses. The 6-8 308 pounder is a poor fit for the new blocking scheme and his history is not consistent with how well he played last season. He was Pro Football Focus’ 77th ranked offensive tackle out of 80 eligible in 2012, his only other season as a starter at right tackle, and graded out below average in 2 of 3 seasons from 2009-2011. The offensive line is unlikely to be as good as it was last season.

Grade: B-

Running Backs

Along with RG3, the other offensive player they need to get going again is Alfred Morris. Morris rushed for 1613 yards and 13 touchdowns on 335 carries as a 6th round rookie in 2012, an average of 4.81 YPC, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 3rd ranked running back in terms of rushing grade. In 2013, he rushed for 1275 yards and 7 touchdowns on 276 carries, an average of 4.62 YPC, and graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 13th ranked running back in rushing grade. That’s obviously not a bad season, but he wasn’t as good as he was as a rookie.

The good news is that he should find more running space with a healthy Robert Griffin functioning as a dual option at quarterback. The bad news is that Jay Gruden is coming in as head coach and wants to open up the passing offense. Morris has caught 20 passes in 2 seasons and has graded out below average as a pass catcher in each of his two seasons in the league. Gruden is on record saying that he wants to give passing down back Roy Helu more snaps. Last season, Helu played 547 snaps while Morris played 611 snaps. Morris will have a role similar to BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had 472 snaps in Cincinnati, as opposed to 627 snaps for passing down back Giovani Bernard.

BJGE still had 220 carries last season and Morris is much more talented than him, while Helu is not as talented as Bernard. It could be a more even split in snaps and Morris could still see 240-260 carries this season, including all the goal line carries, and average a high YPC, but Helu will have a bigger role than last season. He’s only averaged 4.26 yards per carry in 3 seasons in the league, but he’s caught 87 passes for 675 yards and a touchdown, and he’s been a top-5 pass blocking running back on Pro Football Focus in 2 of 3 seasons in the league since being drafted in the 4th round in 2011.

Grade: A-

Defensive Line

As I mentioned, the Redskins had one of the worst defenses in the league, last season, ranking 24th, allowing opponents to move the chains at a 74.56% rate. They also didn’t have a lot of injuries on either side of the ball and there’s no savior returning from injury to help them on this side of the ball. Fortunately, they did sign free agent Jason Hatcher to a 4-year, 27 million dollar deal. It was a risky deal because Hatcher is going into his age 32 season, but, provided he’s healthy (he had off-season knee surgery and is questionable for the start of camp), he should be able to provide them with value this season.

Hatcher is the only player on this 3-man defensive line expected to be an every down player, playing 3-4 defensive end in base packages and then moving inside to rush the passer from the interior in sub packages. Hatcher has experience in both a 3-4 and a 4-3 and has been dominant over the past 2 seasons, playing in a 3-4 in 2012 and a 4-3 in 2013. He was Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2012 and 8th ranked defensive tackle in 2013. He was a deadly interior pass rusher in a 4-3, but he’s probably better suited to be a 3-4. His all-around game was better in 2012 in a 3-4 as the undersized 6-6 285 pounder did struggle against the run in a 4-3 in 2013, grading out below average in that aspect. The late bloomer was also Pro Football Focus’ 6th ranked 3-4 defensive end in 2011 as a talented reserve on 428 snaps, with no one playing fewer snaps and grading out higher that season.

Hatcher isn’t the only player they gave a significant contract to this off-season, as they re-signed defensive Chris Baker to a 3-year, 9 million dollar deal. It was a weird deal because the 6-2 325 pounder is only a two-down player and he’s not a proven player at all. The 2009 undrafted free agent out of Hampton had played a combined 216 snaps in 4 seasons before last year and then struggled mightily last year on 418 snaps as primarily a base package player, playing 3-4 defensive end and nose tackle. His composite grade would have been 6th worst among 3-4 defensive end and 9th worst among defensive tackles, despite his limited playing time. He wasn’t even good against the run. It was a weird deal.

The Redskins have another two defensive linemen on big contracts, as Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen signed a 6-year, 36 million dollar deal and a 5-year, 27.5 million dollar deal respectively in the off-season before the 2011 season. Neither has really lived up to it in 3 years. Cofield has been the better of the two, but last season was the first season he had graded out above average in 3 seasons with the team. He’s a great pass rusher, especially last season, when he graded out 6th among defensive tackles in that aspect, but he’s horrible against the run, grading out 8th worst, worst, and 7th worst among defensive tackles in that aspect in 2013, 2012, and 2011 respectively. That makes sense as he’s undersized for a nose tackle at 6-4 303, but the Redskins continue to play him there, at least in base packages. He led the defensive line in snaps played with 739 last season, but he should have a smaller role this season, going into his age 30 season with Jason Hatcher coming in.

Bowen has been even worse, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 27th ranked 3-4 defensive tackle out of 32 eligible in 2011, 26th out of 34 eligible in 2012, and 39th out of 45 eligible in 2013. He’s been so bad that the Redskins have cut his snaps from 816 in 2011 and 808 in 2012 to 422 snaps in 2013, missing 6 games with injuries. Now going into his age 30 season, he should have a similar role and continue to struggle. He’s still not completely recovered from knee surgery. Kedric Golston and Jarvis Jenkins are also in the mix on the defensive line, after they played 472 snaps and 333 snaps respectively last season. Both played primarily in base packages and both also struggled mightily, grading out 40th and 35th respectively among 3-4 defensive ends last season. Adding Hatcher to the mix helps this defensive line, but they still have a ton of problems.

Grade: C+

Linebackers

The star is this defense and one of the only things that kept it afloat last season is Brian Orakpo. Orakpo bounced back in a big way from a torn triceps injury that limited to him to 87 snaps in 2012. Last season, Orakpo graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 4th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker and showed a fantastic all-around game. He graded out above average as a run stopper, pass rusher, and in coverage, grading out 9th at his position as a pass rusher, 4th as a run stopper, and 2nd in coverage. The 2009 13th overall pick was also Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2011. The Redskins franchise tagged him this off-season, as they obviously didn’t want him to get away, though they were unable to agree to a long-term deal.

Opposite him, the Redskins have another former first round pick in Ryan Kerrigan, who was the 16th overall pick in 2011. He’s also talented, though he’s nowhere near as good as Orakpo. He’s graded out below average in 2 of his first 3 seasons in the league, but only slightly and in the season he graded out above average, he was Pro Football Focus’ 7th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in 2012. He’s also excelled in pure pass rush grade, while grading out below average against the run in all 3 seasons and below average in coverage in 2 of 3 seasons. He was Pro Football Focus’ 9th ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in pass rush grade in 2011, 5th in 2012, and 12th in 2013, which is notable because the most important part of his job is rushing the passer. The Redskins have picked up his 5th year option for 2015.

The Redskins also have decent depth at the outside linebacker position. Rob Jackson graded out slightly below average on 114 snaps in 2011 and 186 snaps in 2013, but, in the only season in his career in which he saw serious action, he graded out above average. Playing 610 snaps in Orakpo’s absence, he graded out above average in 2012. He graded out slightly below average against the run and as a pass rusher, but he was Pro Football Focus’ #1 ranked 3-4 outside linebacker in coverage grade, playing 112 coverage snaps. They also have Trent Murphy in the mix at the position. The 2nd round rookie won’t see a significant role as a rookie and was mostly drafted as long-term insurance with Orakpo going into his contract year and Kerrigan having two years left on his deal, which is disappointing because it suggests they won’t try to keep both Orakpo and Kerrigan long-term, but he’ll provide solid depth in the short-term if needed.

Things aren’t nearly as good at middle linebacker. The Redskins re-signed middle linebacker Perry Riley to a 3-year, 13 million dollar deal this off-season. Riley, a 2010 4th round pick, has been starting for the Redskins at middle linebacker for about 2 ½ years, since the middle of the 2011 season. He was about an average starter in both 2011 and 2012, for the first 1 ½ year and a half of his career, but he struggled mightily in his contract year last year, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ 42nd ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible. Given that, the Redskins are overpaying. He could bounce back, but there are no guarantees.

London Fletcher was the opposite starter last season, but he retired this off-season. As good of a career as Fletcher had (he may end up in the Hall-of-Fame), him retiring gave the Redskins an opportunity to upgrade his spot, as he struggled mightily in his age 38 season last season, grading out as Pro Football Focus’ worst ranked middle linebacker last season. The Redskins didn’t really make the most of that opportunity though.

Keenan Robinson is currently expected to be the starter, but the 2012 6th round pick played 69 snaps as a rookie and didn’t play a snap as a rookie. The new coaching staff reportedly likes his upside, but he’s still a complete unknown as an NFL player. Akeem Jordan and Darryl Sharpton are the veteran options. Jordan was Pro Football Focus’ 11th ranked middle linebacker last season, including 5th ranked against the run, but he only was a two-down player, playing 483 snaps and grading out below average in coverage. He’s graded out above average in 6 of 7 seasons since going undrafted in 2007, but he’s primarily been a reserve and situational middle linebacker in his career, maxing out at 556 snaps in 2009.

Sharpton, meanwhile, has graded out below average in all 4 seasons he’s been in the league since being drafted in the 4th round in 2010. He’s also missed 22 games in 4 season with injury and only played 550 snaps from 2010-2012. He appeared in 15 games in 2013, starting 8 and playing 743 snaps. He graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 32nd ranked middle linebacker out of 55 eligible last season, which isn’t terrible, but he was Pro Football Focus’ 54th ranked middle linebacker (out of 55 eligible) in coverage last season. He was 2nd as a run stopper, but coverage is more important. He should really be limited to two-down work, as should Jordan, which is, perhaps, why the coaching staff is pumping up Robinson so much. He’s the only player with the ability to potentially play all 3 downs opposite Riley. The middle linebackers sink this whole linebacking corps.

Grade: B

Secondary

Easily the worst part of this team is the secondary and they have arguably one of the worst secondaries in the NFL. They don’t have a savior on the way as they had the 4th fewest adjusted games lost in the secondary last season. The biggest free agent acquisition they brought in was Ryan Clark, but he’s going into his age 35 season. The veteran safety graded out below average on Pro Football Focus last season for the first time to 2008. He could be close to done.

He should still be their best safety and an upgrade on what they had last season, as Reed Doughty, Bacarri Rambo, and EJ Biggers graded out as Pro Football Focus’ 74th, 79th, and 80th ranked safeties respectively last season, out of 86 eligible, playing just 414, 340, and 432 snaps respectively. Brandon Meriweather was 77th, leading the position in snaps played for Washington, playing 748 snaps, but he’ll remain as a starter because they don’t have a better option. Now 30 years old, the veteran hasn’t graded out above average in a season in which he played more than 50 snaps (he was limited to 44 in 2012) since 2009. He’s also missed 23 games combined over the past 3 seasons.

At cornerback, the Redskins brought back DeAngelo Hall on a 4-year, 17 million dollar deal. It was a weird move. Last off-season, DeAngelo Hall was cut from his large contract by the Redskins and brought back on a cheap one-year deal worth about a million dollars. It made sense. He was going into his age 30 season and had graded out below average on Pro Football Focus in 4 of his last 5 seasons, dating back to 2008. The only season he graded out above average was 2010. In 2011, he was Pro Football Focus’ 67th ranked cornerback out of 109 eligible and in 2012 he was 64th out of 115 eligible. He struggled again in 2013, grading out 85th out of 110 eligible and, now going into his age 31 season, I thought he’d have to settle for another cheap one year deal on the open market. I guess the Redskins had different idea. He should continue to struggle this season.

The Redskins didn’t bring back Josh Wilson this off-season. Wilson isn’t very good, grading out 76th among cornerbacks, but his absence will mean a bigger role for 2nd year player David Amerson, who graded out 84th last season (including 93rd in pure coverage grade) on 694 snaps as the 3rd cornerback. Rookie cornerbacks tend to struggle so the Redskins are obviously hoping that Amerson can be improved in his 2nd year in the league and turn into a functional starting cornerback, especially since they currently lack one of those on their roster, but there are no guarantees.

Wilson leaving also meant that the Redskins had to find a new #3 cornerback and to fill that role they, for some reason, gave a 2-year, 6 million dollar deal to Tracy Porter. Porter was Pro Football Focus’ 106th ranked cornerback out of 110 eligible last season with Oakland and 91st out of 109 eligible in 2011 with New Orleans, with an injury plagued season in Denver in between (316 snaps in 6 snaps). He hasn’t graded out above average since 2009 and his career has gone severely downhill since he scored a pick six in the Super Bowl in his 2nd year in the league in 2009. He wasn’t worth much more than a minimum deal, but the Redskins overpaid him and locked him into a significant role. It’s an overall horrible secondary on a defense that should continue to be very easy to move the chains on.

Grade: C-

Conclusion

The Redskins will be better this season. I mentioned in the opening that teams that have big win improvements, on average, decline by half that amount the following season. Well the opposite is also true. That would put the Redskins at 6-7 wins if they fall in line with the average. Robert Griffin should be healthy this season, play the whole season, and resemble the quarterback he was as a rookie in 2012. New head coach Jay Gruden coming in is the wild card and he won’t maintain his absurd interception rate from 2012, but he should have a very good season.

The Redskins have a lot of offensive skill position players with RG3, Pierre Garcon, DeSean Jackson, Jordan Reed, and Alfred Morris, but I don’t think that’s going to be enough to get the Redskins back into the playoffs. They had minimal injuries last season outside of Griffin. Their defense will be very easy to move the chains on once again. Their offensive line won’t be nearly as good this season. They won 10 games in 2013, but they weren’t as good as their record suggested that season. They should finish this season in between 2012 and 2013, near that aforementioned 6-7 win range. I’ll have an official wins prediction for them once I’ve finished every team’s write up.

Prediction: 8-8 2nd in NFC East

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