The ‘State of the Franchise series continues! We have had great response to this new series and it’s been great seeing so many UK NFL fans getting involved. This week is no different and it’s the Washington Redskins turn.
We welcomed Simon Austen to tell us how he see’s his team doing in 2018 as well as a reflection on 2017 and the off-season. So, let’s get into it …
Last Season’s Reflections
Last season turned into a roller-coaster ride and ultimately, we paid the price for losing the winnable games and winning the ‘should lose’ games. Our NFC East performances were something short of abysmal, struggling from opening day against the eventual Superbowl winners and losing twice to Dallas and once to the Giants just summed up the season.
I’m not one to make excuses but the injuries on the lines didn’t help at all especially in defence and trying to stop the rush but that’s something we didn’t put together. We didn’t have the depth to cover this.
We went from a 4000-yard plus passing game to a ranked 27th defense, tells it’s own story. Cousins looked every bit like someone afraid to take chances with the long game by the end and I think we all knew he wasn’t hanging around. A run game that stuttered despite promising outlook against the Rams in L.A, it dive bombed. Losing Chris Thompson to another injury really hindered us.
There were so many games that we had by the neck but let slip, notably the loss to the Saints with 2 minutes to go. Playing Zone coverage against Brees in last 2 minutes despite the press and Man Coverage being the system that had worked for the previous 58 minutes. Putting up 30-plus points against defenses ranked high should mean you go on to win but the Vikings and Saints were two games where you look back and think how did that slip away …
Positives, however, were wins in Seattle and L.A against the Rams. Showing what we are capable of with DJ leading the way in interceptions.
Changes During The Off-Season
Whilst everyone chased the QBs, the Redskins had already been shrewd and brought in Smith, someone who is as good as the outgoing Cousins and can certainly lead teams into the Post Season.
Time will tell whether he can emulate the passing yards but he can scramble and run, something we lacked with Kirk. The downside of the deal was losing Kendall Fuller, a star in the making.
The draft saw the Skins try to address the frailties, the defense. Bringing in Payne and Settle as run stuffers was the sensible option in a division that sees the run game be very productive and a key area the Redskins struggled. Guice will make a good edition giving options with him and Chris Thompson with the likelihood of Chris being used on 3rd Downs more than Guice. Certainly if the O Line can continue blocking as well as it did last season, we may now have 2 Running backs who can be productive and bring back the element of variety to the game.
The Smith effect …
The Redskins have always historically had good receivers and the addition of Paul Richardson adds to another weapon in the Redskins receiving team. So now begs the question just how much impact will Smith make. There are mixed thoughts about how much of an impact he will make. Personally, I wonder if he can slot into the Redskins play calling. Given his versatility he should be able to adapt and slot into a passing game that will bring productivity to the offense. With the addition of both Smith being able to run with the ball and, hopefully, a productive running game then the transition from Kirk to Smith should be no trouble.
The Hopes …
Every season Skins fans are optimistic. This season there’s reason to be optimistic.
The additions on defense along with hopefully a team staying fit should make us more competitive. The NFC East is a horrible division with so much competition but with the Cowboys looking like they are in rebuild-mode and the Giants being a team that can either be amazing or downright appalling, the Redskins should be challenging the Eagles for a place as NFC East champs.
That’s if we don’t self-combust – a habit that’s happened so often after the last 20+ years. The need for a post season and a play off win is great in the Nations capital. One thing you can always be assured with the Redskins is that they will battle and get down and dirty when the going gets tough but is it enough? Probably not this year but the team finally feels like its heading in the right direction to get the first Superbowl since 1992.
The main question will be is it enough for Gruden to not be fired at the end of it. Dan and Bruce want the Superbowl yesterday and whilst this is the longest they’ve kept a coach on if years if there’s no post season this year then the pressure must be on.
Predictions For The New Season
One thing is for sure is that we need Smith to bring that winning mentality to Washington. Cousins had more touchdowns that Smith in 2017 but since 2011 only 3 quarterbacks have a better winning percentage as starter (Rodgers, Brady and Peyton Manning). He has got the ability to lead and win games and the Skins need to have that belief to see out games as they did in Seattle last year when they ground out the W.
With that, I do think we will go 10-6 sneaking into wild card spot. #HTTR
Editor Notes: Redskins fans, let us know your thoughts and tell us whether you agree with Samuel’s reflections an predictions. Leave a comment or contact us via social media below: