Call me crazy if you will(I kind of expect you to), but some of the veterans that were already on this team, and some of the new veterans that McCloughan brought in this offseason, could be the reason for a major turn around in the Nation's Capital - maybe even a winning record in 2015!
Along with veteran players comes leadership. Leadership on the field, leadership in the locker room and leadership in the community. Every team who has success on the field, has leaders who operate as vital pieces to their infrastructure, and the 2015 Washington Redskins have some guys who fit this mold. This internal dynamic could help yield a fruitful bounty of wins this season and beyond.
Trent Williams - Williams is the unquestioned leader of this team. Ask any player, coach or local reporter covering this team, and you will get the same answer when you ask who is the most respected, vocal and demonstrative player on the Redskins - Trent Williams. Two years ago when I interviewed Josh LeRibeus we talked a bit about Williams, and he told me how much he, and all of the team, respects Williams. He mentioned the respect doesn't just stop there, as players around the NFL also hold him in the same regard. Williams is a true leader of men.
Kirk Cousins - Some may question the addition of Cousins on this list, but during his time at Michigan St., Cousins was praised for his leadership, twice being named as a team captain, and displaying the quite, confident, calm demeanor required of a quarterback. Cousins may not be a in-your-face type of guy, but he commands respect in the huddle, and will lead by example with his play. Hopefully the mental aspect of his game has grown since last season, and if it has, Kirk could become one of the intregal pieces to this team's success in 2015 and beyond.
Pierre Garcon - Garcon hasn't been as productive on the field as his 2013 campaign, but he is a vocal leader who commands the respect of his teammates. The fiery competitor is still a very gifted receiver capable of changing a game with one play, and although he is often overshadowed by fellow receiver DeSean Jackson, his leadership qualities can't be ignored.
Terrance Knighton - Knighton was brought in to anchor our defensive line, but his personality will also be one that can hold down the fort when the going gets tough. He is a vocal leader both on and off the field, and is a great guy for younger teammates to gravitate towards. Unlike a former very large defensive linemen we once had here in DC, Knighton will be far from a distraction if things hit a rough patch during the season. Instead, he could be the voice of reason and motivation that reunites the troops as sets them back on the path to success.
Deangelo Hall - The wise old vet has seen it all, and his experience, vocality and competitive mentality is just what is needed for the stable of young defensive backs the Redskins have. Even if Hall's play declines a bit due to age and injury, his mind is still as sharp as ever, and his competitive juices and swagger will flow ever-smooth. His presence on the field should help a defensive that lacked communication last season.
Ryan Kerrigan - Kerrigan is still growing into this role, but becoming a true veteran leader is something he should have no problem adapting to. His play on the field commands immediate respect from teammates young and old, and his work ethic, professionalism and lead-by-example mentality is a perfect mesh with some of the other more outspoken veterans on this team. Ryan is a true pro's pro, and his leadership will go a long way in deciding the team's success.
Dashon Goldson - Goldson has always been viewed as a great leader of men, but he fell on some rough times in Tampa with a team he didn't quite fit with. The Redskins are a team who has embraced the veteran safety, and by all accounts, he's taken his role as a leader seamlessly. Dashon will be replacing former vocal leader Ryan Clark, and if he can capture the play that once made him one of the better safeties in the game, the team may flourish under his tutelage.
Keenan Robinson - Middle linebackers are often viewed as the leaders of the defense. Guys like Mike Singletary, Ray Lewis, and Brian Urlacher were not only leaders of their respective defenses, but also the cornerstones of their football teams. Robinson has a long way to go to get to that status, but he's certainly taken steps in the right direction, and has show the leadership qualities that can make him a leader on this team.
Chris Baker - Many think of Baker of the "class clown", but the massive defensive linemen is a true leader in his own right. Don't let his jovial demeanor be confused with a lack of passion for the game. Baker brings his BIG personality both on the field and into the locker room, and when teamed up with good friend Terrance Knighton, there are not two bigger personalities in the NFL.
The one thing I have noticed over the almost two decades of dysfunction, has been the lack of leadership on this football team. Some players came to DC to get that final contract before riding off into the sunset, and this proved to be costly for the mental makeup of this team. With Scot McCloughan running the show, there is a new metric placed on leadership, and fans of the team should begin to see how a team can operate successfully when the appropriate foundation is in place. The leaders of this team should go a long way in deciding the success of the organization for years to come.