Well, here we are. The cold, desolate landscape of the NFL off-season. The excitement of the Draft remains only a fading memory of better times, yet the new season of Hard Knocks lies still frustratingly out of reach. In short, we are well and truly in no man’s land. So what better time is there to make some season predictions? My team, the recently ill-fated Washington Redskins, represent one of the more intriguing situations going into this season. After a lackluster 2017/18 season, what lies in store for the burgundy and gold this time?
For years on end, the defensive line has been the downfall of the Redskins’ traditionally apt defense. In particular, their run-stop defense has consistently been one of the worst in the league recently. As a result, the ‘Skins were always vulnerable to humiliation by opposition running-backs. This year, however, I predict a different story. The Washington interior-line has never looked better. The additions of Da’ron Payne and Tim Settle in the Draft makes the nose-tackle position look a whole deal more attractive than the previous options of Phil Taylor and Ziggy Hood. Secondly, the edge-defense also looks incredibly promising. 2017 first-round pick Jonathan Allen spent much of last season injured. In his five games, however, he tallied one sack with ten tackles- a good stat-line for a rookie playing at less than 100% fitness. If this unit remains fully fit, expect them to dominate.
Running Game Rejuvenation
Throughout my tenure as a Redskins fan, our ground-game was always a frustration for me. The name ‘Matt Jones’ still brings tears to my eyes every time, and causes me to fumble any object I’m holding at the time. No matter what, we always lacked a true feature-back to take the pressure off the quarterback. With the selection of Derrius Guice, however, this trope seems to be about to change. Finally, the Redskins found their first choice rusher, with the lethal combination of speed, strength and elusiveness. Not only will Guice contribute positively to the run-game, but he has also shown from mini-camp his value as a receiver. With this addition, along with returning players Chris Thompson and Rob Kelley, the Redskins’ ground game is set for a rejuvenation.
Alex Smith: Leader
The Alex Smith trade was lambasted by many ‘Skins fans immediately after announcement. Many analysts and followers alike hated the loss of talented slot-corner Kendall Fuller for an ageing quarterback. Smith, however, is coming off his best NFL season, throwing for a career-high 4,042 yards. The quarterback also posted an incredible touchdown to interception ratio of 26-5. This, again, is the best of his career. From these statistics, it by no means looks as though Smith is slowing down. Instead, at the ripe age of thirty-four, the Washington native is actually improving. With this said, I predict that this player will lead the Redskins to a winning record this season in the wake of Kirk Cousins’ departure. The receiving corps of this team saw improvement by the addition of Paul Richardson. If star tight-end Jordan Reed can stay healthy, Smith will be equipped with the best possible weapons. Therefore, despite my initial skepticism, I fully believe that Washington will be in a better position with the leadership of Smith.
In my opinion, a wholly positive season lies ahead for the Redskins. With a new wave of young talent, I sincerely hope for a positive showing this year.