Following the 20-6 loss to the New York Giants, the Washington Redskins can finally put their miserable 2013 season to rest. In the process of dropping to a final road record of 1-7 on Sunday in the Meadowlands, the Skins completed one of their least successful seasons in franchise history, posting a record of 3-13.
With that in mind, the Redskins ownership and management will once again return to the drawing board, this time in what's sure to be one of the biggest overhauls they've ever had.
After winning just 24 games in four seasons, Mike Shanahan was first on the chopping block. His highly anticipated termination took place early Monday morning, according to Mike Jones of The Washington Post:
Mike Shanahan and his staff have been fired.— Mike Jones (@MikeJonesWaPo) December 30, 2013
The search for a new head coach will be one of the more critical tasks the Redskins will undertake this offseason. The fundamental problem in the Shanahan era has been team defense. For the third time in four years, Washington has finished in the bottom half of the league in points allowed per game.
It's strongly believed and supported by fans that the Redskins need to hire a defensive-minded coach to succeed Shanahan.
One name that stands above the rest is former Chicago Bears head coach Lovie Smith.
While in the windy city, Smith led the Bears to three playoff appearances, two NFC Championship Games and a Super Bowl.
Renowned for his defensive prowess, in two of his first three seasons in Chicago Smith headed a team that finished in the top three of the NFL for points allowed per game, as well as making the playoffs.
Who should the Redskins' new head coach be?
His arrival in Washington could revitalize a poor defense to accompany an offense led by a healthy Robert Griffin III, who was sacked a career-high 38 times in 2013, bringing us to the Redskins' next biggest point of offseason attention—the offensive line.
Washington must, at the very least, add depth to an offensive line that allowed a sack on 7.8 percent of dropbacks by Redskins quarterbacks (via FootballOustiders.com).
The best way to do so would be via the 2014 NFL draft. The Redskins are already in possession of their franchise left tackle, so lacking a first-round pick isn't quite as cumbersome as fans would have you believe.
The right side of the offensive line is sure to be replaced, as right guard Tyler Polumbus and right tackle Chris Chester have not met expectations.
Someone that may, and should, be on the Redskins' radar with the 34th overall pick is Mississippi State offensive guard Gabe Jackson.
Weighing in at 340 pounds, Jackson is much quicker than his size would have you believe. The second-team All-American is skilled at making his way to the second level in run-blocking and excellent in pass protection.
Finally, the defensive secondary is an area where the Redskins were severely let down in 2013. One individual who must be replaced is free safety Brandon Meriweather.
Between his fines, suspensions and injuries, along with erratic play, the former first-round pick has been more of a liability to the team than an asset. He's also been a distraction by way of his comments to the media—most notably a response to a statement made by Chicago Bears wide receiver Brandon Marshall that he should be kicked out of the league.
Cornerback DeAngelo Hall was solid this year, recording a team-high four interceptions. Cornerbacks Josh Wilson and David Amerson struggled at times in pass defense but were solid all around. All three jobs should be safe, for now.
With key pieces in place, it may not take many adjustments for this team to regain its status as a playoff power in a weak division.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all stats were gathered via Pro-Football-Reference.com