2015 NFL Preview: Washington Redskins

2015 NFL Preview: Washington Redskins

Leaving aside the incessant name controversy, the Washington Redskins have been a terrible football team for the last two years. A 7-25 record and the rapid decline of former wunderkind quarterback Robert Griffin III have sent the franchise careening off a cliff engulfed in a fireball of futility. Head coach Jay Gruden was clearly overmatched in 2014 and there was a sense that the inmates were running the asylum. Despite Griffin being “awarded” the starting role back in February, the maligned signal-caller has competition behind him from Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy, both of whom outplayed Griffin a season ago. But quarterback issues aren’t the only ones plaguing the ‘Skins — a dearth of talent and a glaring lack of organizational direction have been problems for years. Here’s a preview of the 2015 Washington Redskins.

Outlook: If RG III doesn’t return to his 2012 form, the offense is pretty much screwed. DeSean Jackson is a dynamic big play weapon, and Alfred Morris a solid back, but beyond that there isn’t a lot to get excited about. A secondary that yielded 35 scores in 2014 has been rebuilt, but it remains to be seen if the players added will represent upgrades. The front seven appears to be in decent shape, although the free agency defection of their best pass rusher could be problematic if the replacements don’t meet expectations. No NFC East team has repeated as division champs since 2004, so a ‘Skins resurgence wouldn’t be completely shocking.

Later, dude: Brian Orakpo racked 38.5 sacks in the four seasons he stayed healthy, but a pair of torn pectorals in 2012 and 2014 raised enough red flags to allow him to ink a four-year, $32 million deal with the Titans. Roy Helu is an underrated dual-threat back who never got an opportunity to shine behind Morris; he has a chance to make some noise now that he’s a Raider. Veteran guard Chris Chester started 64 straight games, but the coaching staff is high on second-year pro Spencer Long. Chester is now a Falcon. Stephen Bowen and Tracy Porter both suffered injuries in 2014 and neither were retained. Defensive tackle Jarvis Jenkins and wideout Leonard Hankerson never morphed into consistent producers, so both are getting fresh starts elsewhere.

Welcome aboard: Cornerback Chris Culliver had success in San Francisco and will improve a position in need. Safety Dashon Goldson was acquired in a trade with Tampa for a sixth-round pick; he hasn’t been good since 2012. Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea are quality run-stoppers who will upgrade the front three. First-round pick Brandon Scherff is a legit talent who is being penciled in to start at right tackle. Rookie pass rusher Preston Smith brings good depth at OLB behind stud Ryan Kerrigan. Junior Galette recorded 22 sacks in 2013 and 2014 with the Saints, but a beach brawl fight involving a belt, and reports of him being severely disliked by coaches and teammates led to his release last week. Washington never saw a me-first malcontent they didn’t like, so signing him to a one-year contract makes perfect sense.

Over/Under wins – 6: Seven or eight wins is within reach if Griffin and the defense dramatically improve. That said, this smells like a push or worse.

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