In an offseason full of headlines for the Washington Redskins, they can finally turn their attention to the 2017 season with the release of their schedule on Thursday.
Washington seemed to be moving forward with back-to-back winning seasons in 2015 and 2016 for the first time since 1997. Things have not gone the Redskins' way since losing to the New York Giants in Week 17 last January.
Wide receivers Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson left as free agents. Quarterback Kirk Cousins may or may not have demanded a trade and is only under contract for one more year with the franchise designation. General manager Scot McCloughan was relieved of his duties under unusual circumstances.
With more attention being given to what's happening behind the scenes than what will happen on the field in 2017, the schedule release provides a much-needed respite for everyone with the Redskins.
Here's a look at the schedule Washington will face in 2017, released by NFL.com, and analysis for what to expect from the team.
|2017 Washington Redskins Schedule|
|Week||Date||Opponent||Start Time (ET)||TV|
|1||Sept. 10||Philadelphia Eagles||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|2||Sept. 17||at Los Angeles Rams||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|3||Sept. 24||Oakland Raiders||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|4||Oct. 2||at Kansas City Chiefs (Monday Night Football)||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|6||Oct. 15||San Francisco 49ers||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|7||Oct. 23||at Philadelphia Eagles (Monday Night Football)||8:30 p.m.||ESPN|
|8||Oct. 29||Dallas Cowboys||4:25 p.m.||FOX|
|9||Nov. 5||at Seattle Seahawks||4:05 p.m.||FOX|
|10||Nov. 12||Minnesota Vikings||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|11||Nov. 19||at New Orleans Saints||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|12||Nov. 23||New York Giants (Thanksgiving Day)||8:30 p.m.||NBC|
|13||Nov. 30||at Dallas Cowboys (Thursday Night Football)||8:25 p.m.||NBC/NFL Network/Amazon|
|14||Dec. 10||at San Diego Chargers||4:05 p.m.||CBS|
|15||Dec. 17||Arizona Cardinals||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
|16||Dec. 24||Denver Broncos||1:00 p.m.||CBS|
|17||Dec. 31||at New York Giants||1:00 p.m.||FOX|
The best way to describe the Redskins heading into the 2017 season is with a big shrug emoji. There's certainly a lot of talent on the field, but they are more solid in multiple areas than spectacular at any one thing.
For all of the hand-wringing about whether or not Cousins should receive a long-term extension, he threw for 4,917 yards and 25 touchdowns last season. The offense will replace Garcon and Jackson with Terrelle Pryor Sr. and Josh Doctson.
The secondary remains an area of need after allowing the fourth-worst completion percentage (65.7) and eighth-most passing yards (4,130) to opposing quarterbacks in 2016.
Washington's big free-agent acquisition in that regard was D.J. Swearinger, who was excellent last season, per Nathan Jahnke of Pro Football Focus:
Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke
D.J. Swearinger going to WAS. He was the only safety last year with 7+ interceptions/pass breakups combined, and 0 TDs allowed2017-3-9 22:19:57
It would also be in the Redskins' best interest to find a legitimate No. 1 running back to take pressure off Cousins.
The lack of interest in Pryor, who had 1,007 receiving yards playing for a Cleveland Browns team that went 1-15 and had three different starting quarterbacks, was surprising and got Washington a terrific one-year bargain. Keep in mind Pryor put up those numbers in his first full season playing wide receiver.
Doctson will be counted on for a huge role this season after being limited to two games due to an Achilles injury.
There are so many different ways things can go for the Redskins in 2017 because of the pieces that left and how they are trying to replace them.
The NFC East looks loaded heading into 2017. The Dallas Cowboys and New York Giants combined to win 24 games last season and have no reason to expect a significant drop in production.
The Philadelphia Eagles won seven games with a rookie quarterback in Carson Wentz and first-year head coach in Doug Pederson. Their offense will be better with the additions of Torrey Smith and Alshon Jeffery at wide receiver.
Washington went 3-3 in the division last season, which would feel like a bigger accomplishment in 2017 based on the strength of the other three teams.
The entire schedule doesn't line up well for the Redskins. Based on last year's winning percentage, per CBSSports.com's John Breech, they have the seventh-toughest schedule.
The Redskins will be playing against the NFC West and AFC West, so they get the "cupcake" matchups against the San Francisco 49ers and Los Angeles Rams. Unfortunately, it also leaves them with games against the Kansas City Chiefs, Denver Broncos, Oakland Raiders and Seattle Seahawks.
There aren't a lot of wins to be found, at least on paper, but if Pryor and Doctson emerge as true stars while the secondary takes steps to be even average, this is a dangerous team that will be competitive in every game it plays.