I must say it is fun to parlay my love for NFL preview magazines into a Washington Redskins-centric breakdown. Even though I typically anticipate their projections won’t be very good, especially by national media, I never really know where they’ll end up. Feel free to enjoy my 2014 and 2015 breakdowns.
The Redskins surprised just about everyone by winning the NFC East in 2015 under Scot McCloughan’s first year as the team’s general manager with a record-breaking season by quarterback Kirk Cousins, an infusion of young talent and gritty, low-cost veteran additions over the course of the season.
The burgundy and gold’s first division title since 2012 was followed up by an offseason primarily spent acquiring top special teams contributors and reserve players. That was until cornerback Josh Norman became available in late April to the surprise of just about everyone throughout the league. Pairing Norman with third-year corner Bashaud Breeland should help cushion the loss of defensive tackle Terrance Knighton up front. The team also rid itself of 2012 stalwarts Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris.
Washington is looking to post its first string of consecutive winning seasons since 1996 (9-7) and 1997 (8-7-1) and its first run of back-to-back playoff appearances since going to the postseason from 1990 to 1992. The team also hasn’t won consecutive division titles since winning three straight from 1982 to 1984.
Prediction: 4th NFC East – via Howard Balzer
Power Ranking: None
Analysis: “The only thing in D.C. more disappointing than the presidential election will be the Redskins.” – Howard Balzer
Notable Anecdote: Junior Galette is named the Redskins player on the hot seat. Here’s a snippet from that sidebar: “If he has a great year — double-digit sacks — then he will cash in with a massive contract after signing yet another team-friendly one-year deal. If he doesn’t? Then he will be two years removed from his last productive year and a 29-year-old free agent with a significant recent injury on his resume.”
Prediction: 2nd NFC East
Power Ranking: 7th NFC
Analysis: “The Redskins have suddenly found a quarterback and some stability.”
Notable Anecdotes: The player rankings are always interesting. Josh Norman was ranked as the 20th best player and third best cornerback in the NFL. After dropping from first (2014) to 18th (2015) in the offensive tackle rankings, Trent Williams vaulted back up to fifth overall. Morgan Moses made an appearance at 14th overall. No Redskin ranked in the top 30 receivers in the NFL. Brandon Scherff was left off the list of top 20 guards. Chris Baker cracked the top 10 for best 3-4 defensive ends. Ryan Kerrigan is ranked as the 11th-best 3-4 outside linebacker, one spot ahead of former Redskins linebacker Brian Orakpo. Trent Murphy ranked 15th while Junior Galette was not on the list.
Prediction: 3rd NFC East (7-9) – via Vinnie Iyer
Power Ranking: 9th NFC, 20th overall
Analysis: “They took advantage of their weaker division rivals last season, and avoided issues with inconsistency and injuries. A tough schedule could result in Washington taking a step back in 2016, however, after Kirk Cousins’ breakout season.”
Notable Anecdotes: Rick Snider, who wrote the team’s preview, says the Redskins “must open at least 5-3 after their midseason trip to London because the season’s second-half schedule is brutal with a three-game road trip and five expected playoff contenders.”
Prediction: 3rd NFC East (7-9)
Power Ranking: 9th NFC, 20th overall
Analysis: “Cousins out to prove 2015 was no fluke, but Vegas isn’t buying it.”
Notable Anecdotes: The magazine still continues its stance of not using the name “Redskins.” Josh Norman ranked as the 40th-best player in the NFL. PFW projects Kirk Cousins as the offensive MVP, Ryan Kerrigan as the defensive MVP, Matt Jones as the offensive breakout performer and Will Compton as the defensive breakout performer. The position battle to watch is at strong safety between David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho.