The NFC East: Will the Washington Redskins be on Top?
By Joanne Kong
Last time I discussed last year’s NFC East champs, the Dallas Cowboys, and how I think they’ll end up in the 2019 season as well as the Wild Card winning Philadelphia Eagles, and how I think they’ll fare in 2019, which means its time to turn to last year’s 3rd place team in the NFC East, the Washington Redskins.
2018 Record: 7-9 (3rd in the NFC East)
2019 Odd to Win the NFC East: 7/1
2019 Odds to Win the NFC: 50/1
2019 Odds to Win the Super Bowl: 100/1
After their last Super Bowl win in 1991, Washington has made it to the post-season just six times, with their last attempt for Super Bowl dreams in 2015. So clearly, change is in order. With ten picks in the 2019 NFL draft, the Washington Redskins came away with some great young players. They managed to snag Dwayne Haskins and Montez Sweat, and that was just the first round. With the hype surrounding Haskins, Washington might have found the final piece to their offensive puzzle. Las Vegas might disagree, as although Haskins was a great College athlete, he’s unproven in the NFL. And how many riches-to-rags stories have we seen with top-10 drafted quarterbacks in the NFL? A lot, and way too many to list in this article. This might be why Washington is sitting with distant 100/1 odds to win the Super Bowl in the upcoming season.
|Washington Redskins 2019 Draft|
|3||76||Terry McLaurin||Wide Receiver|
|4||112||Bryce Love||Running Back|
|5||173||Cole Holcomb||Line Backer|
|6||206||Kelvin Harmon||Wide Reciever|
Washington’s biggest issue might be the receiving core, or lack thereof. The person with perhaps the best opportunity to step up in this moderately nondescript group may be 76th overall draft pick Terry McLaurin. Again, as a rookie, his talent in the NFL is yet to be proven, but the upside is certainly there with competition limited to the likes of Jordan Reed, Josh Doctson, Paul Richardson (from the Seattle Seahawks) and Brian Quick (from the LA Rams), all of which were less than impressive last season. McLaurin managed only 701 receiving yards and 11 TD in his final year at Ohio State, but his athleticism on the field is clear, he certainly has a connection with Haskins and he’s already impressing in camp. Washington desperately needs play makers in their receiving core, and if things go south, it may be something they’re looking to correct in the 2020 draft.
— PFF WAS Redskins (@PFF_Redskins) July 11, 2019
However, could the up-and-coming backfield surprise this season? Washington is another team that loves running backs, but unlike most other teams, it’s loaded with talent. Seven running backs are on the unofficial roster, two of which come from the 2019 draft class, and one of which was undrafted. Adrian Peterson, a 13-year veteran, had one of his better years with Washington last season. Derrius Guice, drafted in the second round in 2018, was out with injury during his rookie year after a strong preseason, but is looking to return in 2019. And rookie Bryce Love should be a great addition to Washington. The ACL injury sustained during his senior year might diminish Love’s time on the field, as well as leave him on the sidelines during his rookie season, but during his junior season, Love put up an eye-popping 2,118 receiving yards and 19 rushing touchdowns and was a Heismann Trophy runner-up. There’s clearly plenty of upside here.
So, what are they doing right? Defense. You might not realize it, but Washington has built a top ten defense in the league on the back of a successful 2018 campaign where the defense ranked 7th in sacks (46), ranked 12th in interceptions (15) and 6th in forced fumbles (20). Edge rusher, Ryan Kerrigan, led the Washington defense with 13 sacks and returns to the addition of Montez Sweat, who will replace now-Packer Preston Smith, and should only make the defense better.
Will there be quarterback issues? There’s an argument for seasoning a rookie quarterback by learning behind a veteran. Haskins will at least start the year riding the bench behind two mediocre quarterbacks, as well as Alex Smith returning from injury. Case Keenum had 3,890 passing yards, 18 touchdowns and 15 interceptions in 2018 for the Denver Broncos, the very definition of mediocre. Colt McCoy has been Washington’s backup for the last four years, but has never gotten a starting season. In that time, McCoy has played 11-games totaling 1,557 passing yards, 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. Alex Smith, who suffered a severe ankle injury in the end of the 2018 season against the Houston Texans, will probably be riding the bench in the upcoming season. Although he won’t play, it’s worth mentioning that Smith did lead the Kansas City Chiefs to the post-season 4-out-of-5 years in which he started, as well as mentored current Chiefs quarterback phenom Patrick Mahomes II. So letting Haskins learn from him might not be so bad.
Of course, none of this may matter if Pro Bowl starting left tackle Trent Williams decides to hold out, as Ereck Flowers is essentially a revolving door that will make it extremely challenging for anyone behind center to be successful.
— #JayAndDan (@JayAndDan) July 18, 2019
Finally, looking at Washington’s strength of schedule in 2018, Washington had a better season than expected, defeating the Green Bay Packers in week 3 and the Dallas Cowboys in week 7. In 2019, Washington should see the same level of difficulty with the Chicago Bears, the New England Patriots, the Philadelphia Eagles and the Dallas Cowboys looking to be their toughest competition.
However, with so many question marks on offense remaining, Las Vegas may have it exactly on the money.
Predicted 2019 Record: 6-10