For the not-so-distant past, it has been the Redskins defense that hasn’t carried its weight. To put it frankly; they have stunk!
In 2017, the Skins ranked 21st in the NFL in total defense...but wait, it gets better. In 2016 under then defensive coordinator Joe Barry, they were 28th in the league! 2015? - 28th again! They finished 20th in 2014, and 18th in 2013. So, over the last five years, the Redskins have averaged an abysmal 23rd overall defensive ranking.
That my friends, stinks!
But hope springs eternal for 2018...and beyond.
The Redskins have invested heavily on the defensive side of the football over the last two drafts, and this year could be the season where the defense actually turns around.
Back-to-back drafts saw first round picks spent on the defensive line - you know, the place where it all starts on defense. Jonathan Allen, who many pegged as one of the top overall players in the 2017 draft, slipped to the Redskins at pick 17 because of concerns about his shoulder during the pre-draft process. He looked very good early on until a Lisfranc injury sent him to IR. This past draft, the team selected fellow Alabama defensive tackle Daron Payne with the 13th overall pick. He and Allen should form a devastating tandem for years to come.
Aside from the two first rounders mentioned above, the Redskins also selected the following defensive players who are expected to play big roles in 2018 and beyond:
17’ (2nd round) - Ryan Anderson OLB
17’ (3th round) - Fabian Moreau CB
17’ (4th round) - Montae Nicholson FS
17’ (7th round) - Josh Harvey-Clemons ILB
17’ (7th round) - Joshua Holsey CB
18’ (4th round) - Troy Apke FS
18’ (5th round) - Tim Settle DT
18’ (6th round) - Shaun Dion Hamilton ILB
18’ (7th round) - Greg Stroman CB
18’ (supplemental draft pick - 6th round) - Adonis Alexander CB
During the same period, two key free agent signings have found themselves as mainstays in the Redskins lineup.
- Zach Brown ILB
- D.J. Swearinger SS
In just two years, the Redskins have completely re-shaped their defensive identity, and dividends are bound to pay off.
The Redskins offense has not received as much recent love with higher draft picks. The highest offensive pick they have used in the last two drafts has been a second round pick this year on LSU running back Darrius Guice, who is unfortunately lost for the season with a knee injury.
The only other entrenched starter who was drafted by the team in the past two drafts is center Chase Roullier, a 6th round pick in 2017 out of Wyoming. Former Oklahoma running back Samaje Perine, a 4th round pick in 2017, has a chance to lead the Redskins in carries in his second year, but that is probably only by default due to the Guice injury. There is also a chance he can get beaten out by third year back Rob Kelley for early touches.
It can be argued that since 2016, the Redskins have downgraded on offense.
Gone are 1000 yard receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson. Starting C/G Spencer Long found a new home this offseason in New York. Reserve wide receiver Ryan Grant signed as a free agent in Indianapolis this spring. Most importantly, quarterback Kirk Cousins, who holds the franchise record for passing yards in a season, departed for Minnesota, after the team decided to part ways.
Health has been another major issue for the offense.
Starting tight end Jordan Reed, the player head coach Jay Gruden said the offense runs through, has played in just 18 games the past two seasons (just 6 contests in 2017). Former first round pick Josh Doctson, who missed all but two games as a rookie, has battled both injuries and inconsistencies. Chris Thompson, arguably the Redskins biggest play-maker last season, went on IR with a broken leg after 10 games, and will be starting the season at less than 100 percent. Sean Lauvao, Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff, Chase Roullier and Ty Nsekhe all missed games last season due to injury. Morgan Moses, who was the only starting offensive linemen to play all 16 games last season, was not healthy for the majority of the year, and had off-season ankle surgery.
The Redskins also had some bad injury luck in 2017 when it came to free agent additions. Terrelle Pryor, who was a 1000 yard receiver in Cleveland in 2016, missed seven games last season after being placed on IR for an ankle injury that ended up needing surgery. Prior to his departure from the lineup, he accumulated just 20 receptions for 240 yards and a touchdown.
Enter the new additions:
As we’ve already discussed, the NFL draft has really not produced much for the Redskins over the last two classes. Although Guice was projected to see a significant workload this season, his effect still can not be measured.
The Redskins did bring in some fresh faces.
Quarterback Alex Smith, who finished eighth in the NFL in passing yards last year, was acquired via a trade that sent a third round pick and corner back Kendall Fuller to Kansas City in exchange for the 34 year old veteran. His intelligence, athleticism, accuracy and professionalism will be heavily relied upon to lead Jay Gruden’s offense, and try to get the Redskins back to the playoffs.
Paul Richardson, a speedster from Seattle, signed a five year, $40 million dollar contract with the Redskins in March. He will be relied on to provide Gruden with the deep threat the team lost when DeSean Jackson left for Tampa two years ago. Over the first four years of his NFL career, the diminutive receiver has played in just 47 games, registering 95 catches for 1302 yards and eight touchdowns.
Aside from these two players, and the ones that left this offseason, one could say not much has changed for the Redskins offense... but the question marks surrounding the quarterback position (many think Smith will be a better fit for this offense) and the hole now left at running back, are huge.
Can the Redskins offense be just good enough to put some points on the board this season, while the defense is relied upon to shut down opposing teams?
If so, it will be in stark contrast to what we have seen in previous years, where the offense marched up and down the field, and the defense let the opposing team do the same.
If history tells us anything, it’s that the team will shine where the most resources have been allocated - and most recently, that has been on the defensive side of the football.
How do you feel the Redskins offense will preform in 2018?
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Top 10 offense
Middle of the pack offensively
Bottom third in the NFL
As a fan, which positional area on offense are you most concerned with?
This poll is closed