Firing popular general manager Scot McCloughan on the first day of free agency seemed to add to the discontent the fan base developed toward the Washington Redskins after a disappointing late-season collapse in 2016. However, the team gradually salvaged a disastrous start to their offseason with respectable free agency and draft hauls. The team signed big-bodied receivers Terrelle Pryor while addressing each level of their defense, highlighted by their first-round selection, defensive lineman Jonathan Allen, falling to them at pick No. 17 and the signings of linebacker Zach Brown and safety D.J. Swearinger.
The Redskins missed the playoffs by one game in 2016 and the road to the postseason in 2017 hasn’t gotten any easier based on the improvement of their NFC East counterparts.
Let’s take a look at what the top NFL preview magazines expect from the Redskins this season.
Prediction: 4th NFC East – via Howard Balzer (2016 prediction: 4th NFC East)
Power Ranking: None
Analysis: “What the Redskins do isn’t strange considering Dan Snyder is in charge but losing two top receivers could handcuff them.” – Howard Balzer
Notable Anecdote: Preston Smith is named the Redskins player on the hot seat. Here’s a fragment of that sidebar: “Two of his sacks [in 2016] came in a Nov. 13 win over Minnesota that looked like a turning point. It wasn’t. The coaches still believe Smith can turn into a consistently strong pass rusher with the size to effect the run game, but it’s time to show it in his third season.”
Prediction: 3rd NFC East (2016 prediction: 2nd NFC East)
Power Ranking: 12th NFC (2016 power ranking: 7th NFC)
Analysis: “Given all that has gone on since the bitter end of the 2016 season, it seems amazing to say this — but at least on paper, the Redskins appear to be a better team than the one that went 8-7-1 and narrowly missed the playoffs a year ago.”
Notable Anecdotes: “Kirk Cousins’ future” is No. 5 in Athlon’s story “15 Things to Watch in 2017.” In the “Athlon Sports Top 50 Ranking,” Josh Norman came in at No. 37 and Kirk Cousins ranked No. 50. Shockingly there was no Trent Williams on that list. Terrelle Pryor did not make the list of Top 30 wide receivers. Trent Williams was ranked as the fourth-best offensive tackle in football while Brandon Scherff was listed as the 15th-best guard in the NFL. Zach Brown came in at No. 14 in the Top 20 inside linebackers, while Ryan Kerrigan (No. 9) and Trent Murphy (No. 19) made the Top 20 3-4 outside linebackers. Josh Norman was ranked the fourth-best cornerback in football. No Redskin cracked the Top 20 centers, defensive tackles or 3-4 defensive ends, nor the Top 30 safeties. The Redskins 2017 draft was graded a B+.
Street & Smith’s
Prediction: 3rd NFC East
Power Ranking: None
Analysis: “The Redskins are staring at a third straight barely winning season for the first time since 1989-1992 after going 9-7 and 8-7-1, respectively.” The team receiving a 2017 team grade of “B” and their stock valuation is considered “outperforming.”
Notable Anecdotes: None.
Pro Football Weekly
Prediction: 4th NFC East (6-10) (2016 prediction: 3rd NFC East, 7-9)
Power Ranking: 10th NFC, 25th overall (2016 power ranking: 9th NFC, 20th overall)
Analysis: “Lots of small moves don’t spell big improvement.”
Notable Anecdotes: Despite a fourth-place projection in the NFC East, the Redskins are ranked ahead of the Philadelphia Eagles in the magazine’s power rankings. Trent Williams is ranked 33rd in the magazine’s “Super 50” list of the league’s top players. The magazine still doesn’t use the name “Redskins” and refers to the team just as “Washington.” PFW didn’t go out on a limb by projecting Kirk Cousins and Josh Norman as the team’s Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, respectively, but it did list Josh Doctson and Preston Smith as the offensive and defensive breakout players for 2017. It also lists running back as the position battle to watch.