Offseason workouts started yesterday for the Washington Redskins and the majority of the league. Tonight, the NFL will unveil the 2015 regular season schedule, getting us one step closer to the start of the season and the odds for the season will be updated shortly after. We already have the preseason schedule lined up, and we know who the Redskins will face this year. The Redskins hired new GM Scot McCloughan to rebuild a franchise that has won 7 games over the last two seasons, and has only won their division twice in the last 16 years.
A new GM, means a new philosophy for team-building that Washington fans have seen in other places, but aren't familiar with the from following the Redskins. Gone are several old, injured players(Cofield, Bowen, Meriweather), and a few disappointing young players(Hankerson, Jenkins). McCloughan then focused on rebuilding a defense that struggled last year, and began acquiring new talent for new DC Joe Barry. Players like Stephen Paea, Ricky Jean-Francois, and Terrance Knighton were brought in to improve a DL that was injured and lacked the ability to create pressure on QBs. He also brought in some familiar faces in SS Jeron Johnson(Seattle) and FS Dashon Goldson to fill the gaping holes at the safety positions. McCloughan's one big money signing was also in the secondary, bringing in CB Chris Culliver to bolster a position that dealt with injuries and poor performances last season.
That's all good for the defensive side, but what about offense? The Redskins spent a lot of money acquiring free agents to fix the offense last year(OG Shawn Lauvao, WR Andre Roberts, WR DeSean Jackson), but that didn't translate to a big improvement in wins. The QB carousel that was caused by injuries and poor play made it impossible to get into a rhythm, and wasn't helped by the other two units on the team. McCloughan looked at right tackles in free agency, but the price was too high. He also brought in C/G Stefen Wisniewski recently presumably for a depth signing.
The team's primary need on offense still appears to be guard and right tackle despite drafting those positions last year. They also need depth at WR, and a solid 3rd down RB. But the biggest factor will obviously be the play at QB. Robert Griffin III will enter the offseason with the tag of #1 QB, but will get competition from the other two QBs who started games last season, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. All of them are on the final year of their contracts, and all of them are playing for their futures.
Is the team improved this season with the group of new players and coaches that have been brought in, and the group that has been shown the door? I would say there is a definite improvement overall, especially on defense, but the team will live or die by the QB. Looking at the odds that were put out a few months ago, the Redskins are huge underdogs heading into the 2015/16 season, with +7500 odds to win the NFC Championship and +12,500 for Super Bowl 50 according to this NFL sportsbook. The Redskins share the worst odds for representing the NFC in the Super Bowl with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. If that miracle happens, they have the fourth worst odds of actually winning the big game.
Only the most....dedicated fans expect either of those to happen this season, but what are the realistic expectations going into this season. The team improved by 1 win last season over the dismal 3 win 2013 season. The Redskins face a relatively easy schedule on paper(12th easiest schedule). They only play three games against teams that made the playoffs last season, the Super Bowl Champion New England Patriots and the Dallas Cowboys twice. They play the rest of the AFC East where Ndamukong Suh is hoping for no OL improvements and an RGIII who holds the ball 1 second too long. Then there is the NFC South, which saw their division won by a team with a sub-.500 record(Panthers 7-8-1) and a total of 22 wins last year. Finally they get he basement dwellers of the NFC West(St. Louis Rams) and NFC North(Chicago Bears). How does this seemingly easy schedule affect the Redskins odds of improvement this year? 2 win improvement? 4 wins? Division title? Super Bowl? Too early to tell? We'll find out more details tonight, and look in more detail at every game.
|Redskins 2015 Opponents|
|New Orleans Saints||@ Atlanta Falcons|
|Tampa Bay Buccaneers||@ Carolina Panthers|
|Buffalo Bills||@ New England|
|Miami Dolphins||@ New York Jets|
|New York Giants||@ New York Giants|
|Dallas Cowboys||@ Dallas Cowboys|
|Philadelphia Eagles||@ Philadelphia Eagles|
|St. Louis Rams||@ Chicago Bears|