Season Preview – Washington Redskins

The Redskins are coming off a mediocre year and turbulent off-season in which they parted ways with their GM just before the draft. They lost two key receivers and it Kirk Cousins is unlikely to be around beyond this year. Christian Burt’s expectations are muted…

What to expect?

The slightly sour off season of the Washington Redskins appeared to be settling down into something sweeter after the shock firing of GM Scot McCloughan.

Superbowl hero Doug Williams was hired in a sort of hybrid GM/Main Scout role – Senior Vice President of Player Personnel – and despite the exit of some tried and trusted NFL WR stars in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon, Washington have young and hungry replacements in Terrelle Pryor Sr. and 2016 First Round pick Josh Doctson.

Pre-season, however, has not been great for the new wide outs – Pryor Sr. is hopefully getting the drops out the way before the main event and Doctson never seems to be quite injury free.

And the Redskins were landed a recent blow when 2016 second round draftee and potential SS star Su’a Cravens dropped a proverbial (rather than North Korean) bombshell by announcing he is considering retirement at the age of just 22.

Part of me thinks “fair enough”, I wouldn’t fancy being hit by 6ft6 American football players; but when you see so many who fall by the wayside in the NFL who don’t get that opportunity, you can’t help but feel a bit let-down by this decision. The team have rightly stuck by their guy publicly and we don’t know the actual reasoning behind Cravens timeout. Next man up, however, is the NFL ethos and it’ll be that way for at least a month of the season.

Anyway, back to expectation – muted really – not sad face Browns or Bears despair levels; but no major expectations other than hang on in there for any play-off possibility (I’d put that about 20-80 against).

Did the Redskins address all of their needs this offseason?

Washington used the rounds 1&2 to draft two Alabama D-Linemen, and they’d be little argument from the burgundy & gold faithful with those picks. Jonathan Allen was a big surprise to fall to the Redskins and an absolute no-brainer to take at #17.

There’s a niggling feeling that Ryan Anderson might be a tad undersized, but by all accounts he is a real motor player and with Junior Galette fit after terrible bad luck with two Achilles tears to KO two seasons, the Washington Defense may finally be on an upward curve.

Coaches Jim Tomsula and Greg Manusky bring a tad of the eccentric to proceedings and whilst not all needs are entirely filled on the Redskins roster, overall this isn’t a terrible squad. Losing the promising comeback story of Phil Taylor to injury was a blow – so no out and out Nose Tackle is currently on the 53.

Who should Redskins fans feel most excited about?

Well, as ever, we remain Stoked on Trent (Williams) as the stand out star on the OL for Washington. The man is likely a future Hall of Famer. I like Kirk Cousins, but he isn’t someone to get excited about – but his receiving group of Jordan Reed, Jamison Crowder and the aforementioned Pryor Sr. and Doctson are a legitimate bunch to scare many a backfield.

Were there any surprise departures?

Not major surprises as it was more than likely Garcon and Jackson would test the market and get paid – and get paid they did at San Fran and Tampa. If Cravens does officially retire that’ll be perhaps the biggest shock across all NFL rosters.

Matt Jones is a RB with fumble issues, and the third round pick from 2015 was released and quickly picked up by the Colts for their running back by committee core. Still have a feeling there’s a real football player in Jones, guess it’ll be make or break in Indianapolis.

Matt Jones had trouble holding onto the football, and now he’s a Colt

What’s the biggest strength of the Redskins?

Rather than pick a group as such, offense or defense, I’d suggest the strength of the Redskins is that they actually have a decent number of very good football players across the roster. Williams, Reed and Josh Norman are all bonafide NFL stars who would walk into most NFL starting teams.

There are plenty of others in the kind of B+ category (Crowder & Brandon Scherff as examples) who will need to play some stellar football if the Redskins are to regain the NFC East crown and go forth into post season.

The recently contracted extended Chris Thompson is as good a third down RB in the NFL and another real strength for the Skins going into the 2017 season.

And the biggest weakness?

The running game on both sides of the ball is likely to remain a weakness – and with Cousins losing the safety net experience of Garcon and DJax, the O-Line need to start helping Fat Rob Kelley and company.

Cousins had Red Zone issues in 2016 – hopefully with a taller receiving core and the head down “punch it in” ability of Samaje Perine at RB this can improve for the new season ahead.

And of course the defense is a little heavy with JAGs. 

Breakout star to watch?

I’ll go slightly leftfield and pick D.J Swearinger as an exciting edition in the troublesome, for the Skins, Safety position. I’ve a sneaky premonition that D.J may hang tough with any opponent and his natural leadership skills make him one to watch in 2017.

Perhaps “breakout” should be for a younger player, but in this context I’m hoping D.J will breakout into the A-/B+ category.

What will the Washington record be?

The NFC East has become a real tough division since 2015. The schedule for Washington looks pretty nasty, although this is a burgundy & gold roster with talent. 8-8 may seem deflating, but that’s where I’m landing DC for 2017. A fully fit all season Jordan Reed, however, and we may be looking at 9-7. The Eagles opener will be a reflection of the season IMO, so a W please Kirk & Co.

 

Christian Burt

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Christian Burt
Washington Redskins Writer
Writing from the UK Capital about the Nation's Capital team.
Hail to the Redskins!
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