The Washington Redskins head into this year following a third place finish in the NFC East last season. They were in the hunt all the way to end, but were eliminated from playoff contention in the last week of the regular season.
Kirk Cousins will be playing his second season under the Franchise tag due to the teams inability to reach a long-term deal. Cousins took over the duties as Washington’s starting quarterback in 2015 over Robert Griffin III. He’s been red-hot since taking over, throwing for 9,083 yards, 54 touchdowns, and 23 interceptions the past two seasons. He completed close to 70 percent of his passes since 2015, making him a dependable and effective behind center.
Cousins will have a hard time producing another 4,000+ yard season due to losing some big time targets. In the offseason, they lost over 2,000 yards of receiver production with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon finding new homes for 2017. The team added Terrelle Pryor with hopes he and second year wideout Josh Doctson can carry the load. Pryor was able to have a breakout 1,000 yard season with a Browns quarterback. That speaks volumes. If he continues to find a way to make plays and get open, Pryor has a chance to put up just as much yards, if not more.
He’s looked pretty good in camp so far.
— Terrelle Pryor Fans (@TP11Nation) August 4, 2017
The Redskins need receiver production – this including tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis – because the team cannot yet lean on the running game to win games. Reed is very effective when healthy and Davis can be a solid contributor despite his age. As for the running back, Robert Kelley did well and Matt Jones – well, he ran the football too. Neither have a feel of being a number one back. Washington picked up another ball carrier. Samaje Perine was added in the draft. If he can develop and improve pass protection, the could eventually be the number one option. That probably won’t happen until after mid-season, at the earliest.
The Redskins defense was a point of focus during the offseason. They used their first round draft selection on Alabama’s Jonathan Allen. The Roll Tide defensive stud was initially projected to be a top five pick. He fell to Washington at 17 after concerns of his shoulder injury being an issue. The Redskins are hoping he proves to be the perennial Pro Bowl caliber player he was once billed to be.
The Redskins added Terrell McClain and Stacey McGee to help bolster up the defensive front. Add tackling machine Zach Brown to mix. Brown did well in Buffalo and hopes to add his production to talented defense. Ryan Kerrigan, Phil Taylor, and Ziggy Hood are solid. A the loss of sack generator Trent Murphy for the season hurts. He was second in sacks with 9 behind Kerrigan 11. His production will be missed.
Junior Galette signed with Redskins in 2015, but has yet make it to the regular season due to back to back achilles injuries. Galette’s injury history is concerning. It is reported he’s been working hard to get back to playing football, but his health remains a concern.
The secondary added D.J. Swearinger to the group. Swearinger is known for brutal hits, but can be a liability in coverage. Su’a Cravens moves from the linebacker spot to help out in coverage. Josh Norman will be a productive annoyance for receivers this season. Bashaud Breeland had as many picks as Norman last year. Fabien Moreau was drafted to eventually position himself into the starting lineup. He is a physical cover corner that will bring his physicality to a tenacious group of defensive backs.
The defense will be strong this season and will keep the Redskins in most games.
Schedule walk through
Week 1: VS./ PHILADELPHIA EAGLES
Washington host division rival Philadelphia in the season opener. Cousins has had some of his best games against the Eagles. He’s 4-1 against Philly and the team has been victorious in the last five meetings. Cousins will have to rely on Pryor as his main receiving threat, as Doctson has been hampered by injury. In a battle of the defenses, the Eagles end the streak and get the win.
Week 2: VS./ @ Los Angeles Rams
The LA Rams may not have Aaron Donald at this point if his holdout bleeds into the beginning of the regular season. Washington benefits from this and chemistry begins to build between Cousins and Pryor. The Redskins defense is stout and rookie Allen is getting comfortable and finds a way to get to Jared Goff. Washington comes away with a win.
Week 3. VS./ OAKLAND RAIDERS
The Raiders are one of the top teams in the league. They are on a mission for playoffs and beyond after last seasons unfortunate finish. Norman will be a nuisance for Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, but they still manage to both contribute solidly in the pass attack. “Beast Mode” rumbles through a tough defensive front, and the Redskins lose to a strong contending team.
Week 4. VS./ @Kansas City Chiefs
Cousins and company face the Chiefs in week four action. Alex Smith begins to struggle and Norman gets a pick, maybe two. The defense of Washington comes up big and upset Kansas City at Arrowhead. That’s tough to do. The ‘Skins head into the BYE with a sense of confidence.
Week 5. BYE
Week 6. VS./SAN FRANCISCO 49ERS
Cousins could wind up playing for San Francisco next season. For now, he’s in Washington. The 49ers defense do not make it easy for Cousins, but somehow he manages to pull it off. Washington’s defense contains San Francisco, giving the team a home win against a tough defensive team.
Week 7. VS./@ Philadelphia Eagles
Washington has gained momentum and Cousins looks to seek revenge for the opening loss at home. The Cousins-Pryor connection continues to work. Allen continues to play well and is a handful in the trenches. Redskins get the win and split the series.
Week 8. VS./ DALLAS COWBOYS
The Redskins continue to show balance on offense and defense. Dallas gets behind early and play from behind for most of the game. Dak Prescott attempts to lead the Cowboys to a game-winning drive, but comes up short.
Week 9. VS./ @Seattle Seahawks
This is the week that Washington will begin their fall as division leaders. Seattle’s defense punishes Pryor. He’s ineffective, and so is the offense. Despite strong performances in the first half of the season, the Redskins really have a difficult time keeping up the Seahawks. Russell Wilson exposes the holes and isn’t afraid to target Norman. ‘Hawks win signals a turning point in the season.
Week 10. VS./ MINNESOTA VIKINGS
Dalvin Cook has looked tremendous by this point in the season. The Vikings continue to lean on his production. Allen wraps him up a few times and Norman makes it hard for Sam Bradford. Cravens and Brown have a really good game, but Cousins’ costly turnovers give Minnesota just enough opportunity to win in DC.
Week 11. VS./ @ New Orleans Saints
Drew Brees has his offense rolling. The running game seems to have a fresh set of legs on every drive, with Adrian Peterson, Mark Ingram, and Alvin Kamara alternating snaps. This wears the defense down and Washington gives up a few deep plays to Michael Thomas. Redskins lose on the road and are sitting at .500.
Week 12. VS./ NEW YORK GIANTS
Washington has lost their last three games. They host division rival Giants in a statement game. Cousins value has decreased over the last few weeks due to poor performance. He has new life and Eli Manning cannot get his offense going. Allen gets to him and his technique has improved from early in the season.
Week 13. VS./ @Dallas Cowboys
Fresh off beating their division rival from New York, the Redskins hope to make it back to back wins in the NFC East. The Cowboys prevent the sweep, and embarrass Washington. They force multiple turnovers and score. Dallas wins big.
Week 14 VS./ @ Los Angeles Chargers
With playoff chances fading, the Redskins travel to LA to keep their chances alive. They remain unlucky in the “City of Angels”. Joey Bosa leads a relentless Chargers’ defense and keeps Cousin scrambling for his life all game long. Washington loses to both LA teams in 2017.
Week 15 VS./ARIZONA CARDINALS
Cousins and the offense continue to struggle. They have been inconsistent all season. Without DeSean Jackson stretching the field, the Redskins passing game has underperformed. The Cardinal secondary is tough. The produce turnovers and Washington loses again.
Week 16 VS./DENVER BRONCOS
Denver’s defense is too much. Williams has his hands full with Von Miller throughout the game. The secondary is smothering, and the offense can’t find consistency in the run game. Perine has come on strong at this point in the year, but still struggles in pass protection. Allen does well, but the Redskins lose. Washington may have seen the last home game of their signal caller.
Week 17 VS./@ New York Giants
With no chance of playoffs, a winning record, or finishing .500, the Redskins have nothing to lose. Cousins could be playing his last game as a Washington Redskin. New York, on the other hand, must win to secure playoff berth. The Giants are in do-or-die mode. They win and the Redskins finish last place in the division.
- Kirk Cousins – 3800 yards, 19 touchdowns, 16 interceptions
- Terrelle Pryor Sr. – 1250 yards, 10 touchdowns
- Jonathan Allan – 10 sacks
- Josh Norman – 3 interceptions
- Jordan Reed – 900 yards, 8 touchdowns
- Mason Foster –100 tackles
- Su’a Cravens – 3 interceptions, 3 sacks
- Josh Doctson – 800 yards, 4 touchdowns
- Samaje Perine – 650 yards, 5 touchdowns
- Ryan Anderson – 50 tackles, 3 picks
The Washington Redskins end a promising start with a disappointing finish. They finish dead last in the division after having a commanding lead in the first quarter of the year. Cousins may or may not be a member of this team, but the grass will be looking a lot greener following this season. If the Redskins are willing to overpay, they could keep him. Otherwise, he will be a nice fit in San Francisco.
Washington will appear to be playoff contenders near mid-season, but will collapse following a loss to Seattle. This season could be a precursor to a worse season in 2018 if they lose Cousins. The Redskins will be in the quarterback market either way, whether it’s keeping their own or doing some shopping.
Ceiling – 10-6. The Redskins play tough against division opponents. They sweep the Eagles and split with the ‘Boys and Giants. They win a couple of close games by a handful of points. In this scenario, they are competing for a wild card spot.
Floor – 4-12. The receiving group without Jackson or Garcon doesn’t come close to reaching the level of production expected. Players on both sides of the ball are injury riddled throughout the year and cannot produce on a consistent basis. Galette and Reed do not play enough games to keep Washington in the fight. Little to no production from the running game.
I anticipate the ‘Skins will barely exceed their floor. They do have enough talent to compete in the division and compete for a playoff spot. The likelihood of that is low.