The Washington Redskins had a tough offseason. General manager Scot McCloughan was chased out of town in a power struggle. The team couldn’t make a decision on Kirk Cousins and continued to overpay him on the franchise tag. And while it was assumed the ‘Skins wouldn’t be able to keep both Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson at receiver, it wasn’t expected that both would walk away in free agency.
The rough offseason has left the Redskins underrated. Consider the Las Vegas odds to win the NFC East, with the number indicating the profit one would make on a $100 bet…
How are the Eagles considered a contender and the Redskins not? There’s only one team in the NFC East to be on the right side of .500 the last two years and it’s Washington.
And the Redskins still have the following strengths going for them…
*Kirk Cousins has become a flashpoint for debate in light of his contract status. He also happened to be the guy in the wrong place at the wrong time when the organization was mishandling the RG3 soap opera, leaving a considerable amount of emotional baggage tied up around any discussion of Cousins. But here is the reality—his 67% completion rate was eighth in the league. His 8.1 yards-per-attempt was third. And Cousins’ interceptions, long his downfall, are under control—he was intercepted 2% of the time in 2016, slightly better than average.
*The offensive line has become a good one. Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses are solid on the left side and Trent Williams continues to go to Pro Bowls at right tackle. Most NFL teams have serious deficiencies here, so there’s a comparative edge to any team with three quality linemen like this.
*The receiving corps is still led at tight end by Jordan Reed, one of the best in the game. Vernon Davis found rejuvenation in Jay Gruden’s system. Jamison Crowder began to emerge as a Julian Edelman-type receiver that holes inside a zone. Gruden’s strength as a coach is his ability to design a passing game that can pop people open in the short-to-medium range game. The key question mark is whether second-year receiver Josh Doctson can replace Jackson as the field-stretching deep threat.
*The secondaryis at least above average. Josh Norman has one corner spot in firm control. D. J. Swearinger is a good safety. The linebackers can generate a pass rush, with Ryan Kerrigan leading the way and Preston Smith is competent in the middle.
The decision of safety Su’a Cravens to leave the team this past weekend to deal with personal issues was a significant loss, especially if Cravens follows through on his plans to leave football. He was an important contributor last year and at 22-years-old, has upside.
The defensive line is still a problem. This is a flawed football team. They aren’t on a level with Green Bay or Seattle. But if you take a serious look at the Cowboys, Giants and especially the Eagles, you see more flawed football teams. The Redskins are a contender and from the Vegas perspective, they are the only worthwhile bet in the NFC East.