For a team that finished 5-11 last year, there is a lot of excitement in Washington about the Redskins. The team has made several good offseason acquisitions and changes, none bigger than Robert Griffin III of course.
With the Redskins having finished at the lower end of the division for the last few years, and the high level of play that the Philadelphia Eagles, Dallas Cowboys, and New York Giants play at, it is tough to see how the changes that Washington made can really make a difference. When you're at the bottom of arguably the toughest division in football, having hope that you can contend the next year isn't easy.
Yet the Redskins have a lot of good things going for them, and if there was ever a time to have hope in a 5-11 team in one of the toughest divisions in football, it is now.
Here are five reasons why, despite the depth of the NFC East, the Redskins still have hope.
It is not every day that your team drafts a Heisman Trophy winning franchise quarterback, but that's what the Redskins did this off-season when the drafted Robert Griffin III.
Griffin is super athletic, and in the NFC East that is important. The Giants, Cowboys, and Eagles all have very good pass defense. They were all in the top seven in the league in sacks last year. Griffin's 4.3 speed will help him escape the onslaught that is undoubtedly going to be heading his way.
Griffin also has the ability to throw the deep ball, which is something that the Redskins have been lacking for a very long time. The touch that he puts on his passes is also good.
RGIII is one of the most exciting players to come into the league in the last few years, and his leadership and energy will help spark his teammates.
If there was ever a reason to have hope in the quarterback position in Washington, it is now. The NFC East is going to have to deal with Griffin for the next several years, and he'll want to get out to a good start. He is a huge improvement at the most important position for the Redskins.
Over the last several years the Redskins have had a bad habit of getting older players to try and fill key roles in the lineup. None of them really worked out well. For a long time owner Dan Snyder was known for paying way too much for players that were washed up. Not any more.
Over the last few seasons Washington has done a good job of finding young talent, either through the draft or in free agency. The youth on the team brings energy and potential. All that potential will eventually become results. There is a good chance we will start seeing those results this year. Here is a list of some of the young talent at key positions that the Redskins have.
|Robert Griffin III||QB||22|
All these players have the skill and ability to be great players in the NFC East. This young talent is something that all the teams in the NFC East are going to have to account for. With some of those teams getting older, the younger more exciting Redskins can move up the standings.
In order to have a winning record and play well, it helps to play opponents who aren't so good. The Redskins have the easiest schedule in the NFC East with the 24th toughest schedule in the league. The teams on their schedule had a combined record of just 125-131, despite the fact that the Skins are playing seven playoff teams from a year ago.
True, the teams in the NFC East are tough, but they only make up six games of the 16 game schedule. The Redskins play the St. Louis Rams, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Minnesota Vikings, Carolina Panthers, and Cleveland Browns, all of which did not have very good records in 2011.
Also, the Redskins open the season against the New Orleans Saints, who are having a terrible offseason. If there was ever a time you wanted to play the Saints, it would be the first game this year.
While the Redskins have the 24th toughest schedule, the rest of the division didn't get off so easy. The Giants have the toughest schedule, the Eagles have the seventh toughest schedule, and the Cowboys have the 11th toughest schedule. That should help even things out in the division, and give Washington a shot at being near the top.
One of the reasons that the NFC East is so tough is because that no matter which team is having a good year and which team is playing poorly, anyone can beat anyone.
It is to be expected when the teams all play each other twice a year. You learn each team's strengths, weaknesses, and tenancies. You know what each team likes to do.
Last year the Redskins proved this by beating the Super Bowl champion New York Giants handily both times the teams played. Washington managed to win just three other games all year.
The Redskins will have an advantage against the rest of the division this year because Robert Griffin III will change how they play offensively. Teams are going to have to see how they play before they can adjust and start to recognize what they are trying to do. None of the other teams in the division will have that.
The Redskins have the ability to beat all three teams in the division, they just have to do it.
Head coach Mike Shanahan and offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan have taken a lot of heat over the last two seasons because of how poorly the Redskins have performed. And it is deserved. The Redskins have one less win in the last two seasons than they did under former head coach Jim Zorn, who was fired after two years.
With that being said, Mike Shanahan is a proven winner in the NFL. He has won three Super Bowls, two as a head coach. He has eight playoff wins, which is way more than the Redskins have as a team in the last 20 years. His career record is 157-119, good enough for a .615 winning percentage.
Kyle Shanahan proved that he knows what he is doing in Houston. He built the Texans up from nothing, and is now responsible for laying the foundation for the success they are having now.
In addition the Redskins have Jim Haslett as their defensive coordinator, and Raheem Morris as their defensive backs' coach. Both men have done so well at their jobs in the past that they were head coaches in the NFL. Now they may not have had success as head coaches, but they have experienced being the head man, and that is valuable experience to have.
Believe it or not, this coaching staff knows what it is doing. Now that they have built up a young and talented roster, look for the team to improve and contend as the players gain more experience.