The Washington Redskins seem to be in a better place right now than they were at this time in 2017.
A lot can change in a year’s time. And the Washington Redskins epitomize what organizational changes and roster changes can do to an NFL team.
In May of 2017, the team was coming off what appeared to be a very successful performance in the NFL Draft. However, the amount of questions surrounding the squad was insane. It started at the roster’s most important positions, and trickled all the way down through the organization.
Of course, the big question during 2017 was whether or not Kirk Cousins was going to sign a long-term deal with the team. The Redskins and Cousins had been dancing around the idea of making Cousins one of the highest paid quarterbacks in the league, and the team ended up franchise tagging him in consecutive seasons. This ended up creating an air of uncertainty around the quarterback position, and it also angered Cousins that the two sides weren’t able to come close on a deal. As a result, negotiations stalled, and the questions remained at the most critical position on the field.
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At running back, the team was looking to move on from Matt Jones, a former third round pick, and their potential replacement options were former undrafted free agent Rob Kelley and fourth round pick Samaje Perine. While there was some hope that Perine would develop into a solid lead back, the concerns at the position were largely the same as they had been in previous years. Having unproven or underwhelming commodities as the starter at running back didn’t inspire much hope that the offense would be clicking on all cylinders. But Kelley and Perine were trusted by the team and for a third straight year, the running attack suffered as a result.
At receiver, there was a lot of optimism that Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson would combine to make up for the production lost when Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson left in free agency. While both players had upside, trusting two raw, young players was a big risk, and it was yet another question mark on offense.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Redskins were looking at numerous free agent acquisitions who were supposed to help the squad. In the back seven, it was widely thought that D.J. Swearinger and Zach Brown would help the team’s defense. In fact, Brown, who signed late in the free agent process, was considered to be a potential game-changer at linebacker. And that move ended up paying off.
However, the moves in the front seven were a little less inspiring. While drafting Jonathan Allen was widely regarded as a great move, the team’s decision to sign Stacy McGee and Terrell McClain in free agency seemed odd at the very least. Neither was a particularly strong player, and they weren’t ideal fits for the base 3-4 defense the Redskins run. Neither did a lot to help the team’s weak run defense, and that’s part of why McClain was jettisoned following the 2018 NFL Draft.
Fast forward a year’s time, and there are significantly less questions about the Redskins in all of these problem areas.