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Answering 4 off-season questions for Big Blue View

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Explaining the Redskins to an NFC East rival fan base

NFL: New York Giants at Denver Broncos Isaiah J. Downing-USA TODAY Sports

Earlier this week, I posted an article that featured my answers to 5 questions posed by the Canal Street Chronicles (New Orleans Saints) blog. I introduced that article with some explanation of how I feel about the responsibility for answering questions from opposing fan blogs.

Today I thought I’d share the 4 questions that the NY Giants blog, Big Blue Review, sent in a quest to prepare a preview of the Giants season. As with the Q&A from the Saints, I invite you to participate a bit:

a. Feel free to comment on my answers. What did I get right and what did I get wrong?

b. Use the comments section to answer one or all 4 of the Big Blue View questions yourself. What would you have said in reply to these queries?

c. Feel free to suggest questions that we can include in the 5-questions request that we will undoubtedly send to BBV in advance of our first matchup with them in Week 8.

First, here are the 4 questions I received from BBV:

  1. Are all the changes on offense a net positive or net negative from what the unit was in 2017?
  2. This defense led the league in pressure rate last season per Sports Info Solutions. Is that something the unit is built to come close to repeating?
  3. What is the most underrated aspect of this team heading into 2018?
  4. If you had to pick a regular season record, what would it be?

Think about your answer to those questions. When you finish, scroll down and read what I said in reply.

Are all the changes on offense a net positive or net negative from what the unit was in 2017?

While the Redskins didn’t improve everything that needed fixing on offense, I think the net changes were positive.

First and foremost, the team improved the situation at quarterback by finally letting go of Kirk Cousins and bringing in Alex Smith, who brings leadership, experience, mobility and stability to the Redskins.

At wide receiver, the 2017 Terrelle Pryor experiment was a miserable failure, so the 2018 Paul Richardson signing should work out much better. A lot of questions remain at wide receiver. Will Josh Doctson finally put it all together? Will Richardson be able to restore some of the deep threat capability that left with Desean Jackson? Was Jamison Crowder’s uneven 2017 an abberation, or a harbinger of things to come? Also, the situation with the depth players behind the three clear starters is as clear as Mississippi mud.

The team has the same offensive line group as it did at the end of last season, so nothing was done to address the weakness at left guard.

We still don’t know if Jordan Reed will finally start the season healthy and stay that way for most or all of the games. Without him, the ‘Skins offense isn’t the same, and the team was without him for 10 games in 2017. We’re hoping for better in ‘18, but no Redskin fan is holding his breath.

Aside from QB, the big leap forward comes at the running back position. The Redskins drafted Derrius Guice, and we all believe that he is going to provide the spark that’s been missing in the run game for a few years now.

This defense led the league in pressure rate last season per Sports Info Solutions. Is that something the unit is built to come close to repeating?

I believe so. The outside linebackers played very well last year, but the pressure was also generated largely through interior defensive pressure.

The interior line play should be much improved in 2018, first, because Jonathan Allen will return from his Lisfranc injury that put him on IR following Week 5 last season. Secondly, because the Redskins used their first round pick to select Allen’s Crimson Tide teammate, Daron Payne to bolster the middle of the line. He should help the unit take the next step.

The OLB group lost Junior Galette, a good speed rusher who was among the NFL leaders in pressure per rush last season, but the team signed Pernell McPhee, formerly of the Ravens and Bears, who should contribute to both the pass rush and run defense.

Ryan Kerrigan is probably one of the most criminally underrated players in the NFL, and Preston Smith on the other side has played well since the middle of his rookie season.

A lot of it seems to be driven by the firey Jim Tomsula, who coaches the defensive line, and is a big favorite among Redskin fans.

What is the most underrated aspect of this team heading into 2018?

I think that because the team was so bad against the run last season (the ‘Skins were last or next to last in just about every measure) that people assume that run defense will again be a weakness in 2018.

Matt Ioannidis is an underrated and largely unknown DT who plays most games at a pro-bowl level. He broke his hand in the middle of the season last year and played with a club for several weeks. He was extremely effective when he played beside Jonathan Allen prior to Allen’s injury. With Allen back healthy, Daron Payne added to the line, and the run stopping abilities of Pernell McPhee, I beieve the Redskins abiliity to play the run will be dramatically improved versus last year’s dismal performance.

If you had to pick a regular season record, what would it be?

9-7.

The Redskins have a new QB, new RB, new WR, and an untested CB group. Third party observers who comment on such things rate Washington’s schedule as being among the toughest in the league. I see a Redskins team that (like the Giants) will be less injured than last year, playing at a higher level, but seeing only a 2-game swing in the final record.