It’s been tough being a fan of the Washington Redskins over the last two-plus decades. Many fans in their 20’s never really got to see what a good, well run team looks like. Those fans may often wonder if they ever will...
Well, I believe there is a light at the end of the tunnel for this team who many feel has been snake-bit for the better part of the 21st century.
Snake-bit may be an understatement:
-Ownership under Dan Snyder
-The aging former star free agents
-The Spurrier debacle
-The death of the great Sean Taylor
-The Zorn Experiment
-The McCloughan firing
-The Kirk Cousins saga
A new dawn, a new day:
I know not everyone is a fan of Jay Gruden, but he’s brought this team back to respectability, while giving us something we haven’t had here since Joe Gibbs 2.0 - continuity and stability.
Sure, Gruden only has a career 28-35-1 record and a winning percentage of .445, but that is the second highest multiple season mark since the turn of the century (Gibbs 2004-2007 at .469). Gruden is also the only coach since Norv Turner (1999-2000) to post back-to-back winning seasons (2015-2016), and if it wasn’t for horrific injuries in 2017, he would likely have made that three years straight.
Aside from the head coach, it appears owner Daniel Snyder is finally taking a back seat, and letting his lieutenants run the show. It hasn’t always been pretty, as was evident during the Scot McCloughn tenure and the Bruce Allen reign, but things finally seem to be looking up in the front office.
Doug Williams has done a fine job in his new role as Senior Vice President of Player Personnel, and the scouting department has taken on a new look under the young Director of College Scouting Kyle Smith. The recent hiring of Brian Lefemina as President of Business Operations and Chief Operating Officer should bring the business side of the franchise back to respectability, while further diminishing Bruce Allen’s role with the team.
Overall, the biggest improvement has come from the renewed focus on improving through the draft, and limiting the acquisition of high priced free agents.
Over the last two seasons, the NFL Draft has taken on a whole different approach for the Skins.
2017 saw a value vs. need draft approach. The team hung tight at pick 17 and had one of the draft’s top players, Jonathan Allen (DT - Alabama), fall to them. Allen, who was regarded by many as a consensus top 10 pick, slipped because of concerns about chronic shoulder issues. The Redskins were able to fill their top need while also netting incredible value for the pick. In the second round, the Redskins chose Allen’s Alabama teammate Ryan Anderson. The 3-4 outside linebacker had a slow transition into NFL life as a rookie, but his workman-like mentality and body transformation this offseason has fans excited. Another pick that represented great value was UCLA CB Fabian Moreau in the third. The former Bruin was considered a first round talent by many, but slipped because of a pre-combine injury. The fourth round saw two players selected who would become starters in 2017, in safety Montae Nicholson and running back Samaje Perine. Getting that type of value out of fourth round picks is essential in building a solid young nucleolus. To further the impressive haul, sixth round center Chase Roulier became a starter after Spencer Long went down with injury and never looked back.
Overall the 2017 draft saw 10 players drafted, and all 10 saw time on the active roster during the season - which is pretty impressive in itself.
As impressive as the 2017 draft was, 2018 may stand to be even better.
On paper, the Redskins 2018 class is one of the NFL’s best. Daron Payne was taken at pick number 13, and although he may have been a slight reach, he filled a position of great need yet again for the Skins in the first round. In the second, the Redskins traded back, netting them a third round pick, and still got their man in LSU star running back Derrius Guice. Already a fan favorite, Guice will look to become the first complete 3-down back since Clinton Portis. With the additional third they got in a trade with San Francisco, the front office selected Garon Christian, who is a massive offensive tackle with an equally massive upside. He will immediately look to become the team’s swing tackle, and may be a replacement when Trent Williams hangs them up. Troy Apke in the fourth may have been a reach, but Tim Settle in the fifth more than makes up for that. With the final pick in the 2018 draft, the Redskins selected wide receiver Trey Quinn, who is anything by Mr. Irrelevant.
I believe there is indeed a light at the end of the tunnel for the Washington Redskins. This light is certainly focused around building a solid base of young drafted talent, combined with a respectable coaching staff and functional front office.
For the first time in what feels like decades, Redskins fans have something to look forward to. We are drafting well, developing that young talent, and putting together a competent front office who doesn’t overspend on aging free agents.
The light is certainly shining much brighter in D.C. these days!