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Today: The Washington R*******
Last Year: 3-13 (4th place in NFC East)
It’s sort of amazing how much can change in just one year — at least in the NFL anyway. After selecting RGIII in the 2012 NFL Draft, the Redskins went on to win 10 games and made the postseason — all after finishing 5-11 the season before. But, when RGIII tore his ACL against the Seahawks in the playoffs, everything for Washington was turned on its head. While RGIII was technically ready to play week one of the 2013 season, he didn’t look ready. Not at all.
Washington lost its first three games of the season. Heading into the 10th week of the season, the team was 3-5. Then, the wheels fell off. Dan Snyder’s team would lose its final eight games, as RGIII finished the season riding the bench.
To make matters worse, Washington’s defense featured a whole lot of holes that needed to be fixed, but the team had zero first round picks this year to fill those holes. And this offseason, well, it’s been a bit of a shitstorm for Dan Snyder. And rightly so.
Change the name.
Last Year’s Stud: Alfred Morris
For all of Washington’s faults, its offensive core is pretty much set. A key cog in the offense is Morris, who rumbled for 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns on the ground last season. The Redskins also finished the year ranked fifth in rushing yards. If RGIII can return to the form of his rookie year, this offense is incredibly scary, especially when combining the running talents of both Griffin and Morris. Because when your quarterback can do shit like this:
It can open up a lot of space for the rest of the offense. Read-option for days.
Runner-up: Brian Orakpo
Last Year’s Surprise: RGIII
Sure, RGIII didn’t have the kind of year that everyone wanted him to have. But, you got to admit, it’s pretty dang impressive that he was out there in the first place. The dude tore his ACL in January 2013. He was playing an NFL regular season game in September of that same year. I’m not saying his decision was smart — he clearly wasn’t entirely healthy — but you try playing an NFL game eight months after tearing your ACL.
Still, stupid decision.
Runner-up: Jordan Reed
Who would’ve thought he would be the team’s second leading receiver? Especially considering he only played in nine games.
Last Year’s Disappointment: The defense
Washington gave up an average of 29.9 points per game last season — tied for second worst in the league. Of course, it’s not all the defense fault, as the team turned the ball over 34 times — also tied for second worst in the league.
Runner-up: London Fletcher (team low -28.5 score from Pro Football Focus)
Washington was without a first-round pick, but it snagged Trent Murphy out of Stanford in the second round. In 2013, the defense was only able to bring down opposing quarterbacks 36 times. Murphy should bolster the pass-rush in 2014. At Stanford, he led CFB with 13 sacks in 2013.
Other notable pick: Morgan Moses
This Year’s Stud: DeSean Jackson
Imagining a healthy RGIII running a fake read-option with Alfred Morris, then looking upfield and seeing a streaking DeSean Jackson running uncovered down the right sideline is the kind of thing that keeps me up at night. This could be insane.
Runner-up: Alfred Morris
Over the course of the past two seasons, Morris has run for 2,888 yards. There’s no reason to expect a drop off this season, barring an injury of course. He doesn’t contribute much when it comes to pass catching, but he does more than enough on the ground to make up for it.
This Year’s Surprise: Morgan Moses
He’s a third-round selection, but Moses should be starting at the onset of the season. He’s 6-foot-6 and 314 pounds and figures to slot in at the right guard position.
Runner-up: Jordan Reed
Should continue to improve in his second year.
This Year’s Disappointment: The defense
Did the defense improve enough in free agency and the draft? No.
Runner-up: Brian Orakpo
Draft early: DeSean Jackson, Alfred Morris
Good value in the middle rounds: RGIII, Pierre Garcon
Don’t Draft: Defense
What Vegas is saying (LVH sports book): 7.5 wins
What We’re Saying: 5-11 (4th place in NFC East)
Like the rest of the NFC East, Washington is going to have to face all four teams from the NFC West — by far the best division in football. I could very easily see Washington losing all four games against the West. The team’s shaky defense will also have to take on the Eagles offense twice a year. I could see two losses resulting from that matchup.
It’s hard give this team too many wins. It has a new head coach. Frankly, we have no idea what RGIII is going to look like this year. But, for me, the biggest issue is still the defense. If the defense can transform itself into a middle of the pack unit, Washington could be a dangerous team to face — especially if RGIII regains his rookie form.
Either way, change the name.
[genericon icon=twitter] Follow Sean Wagner-McGough on Twitter @seanjwagner