I realize it’s only June, but I noticed that my Washington Redskins are predicted have 7.5 wins this season, according to the latest Vegas odds. Do yourself a favor and bet on the Redskins to have at least 8 wins this season, and here’s why:
Last season the Redskins finished 8-7-1 with one of the worst defenses in the league. The defense was historically bad on 3rd down. Which makes you wonder how poor the defense would’ve been without the acquisition of Josh Norman last season. I know, it’s scary to think about. Now, I don’t believe the Redskins will have a top 5 defense this season but it will be drastically improved. It all starts with upgrading Greg Manusky, a former Redskin himself, from outside linebackers coach to defensive coordinator. Manusky has promised a more physical and aggressive defense. He was even quoted on local radio saying that his defense is hear to, “Chew bubble gum and kick ass. And we’re all out of bubble gum” (ESPN 980 Washington DC). It all sounds nice from Manusky but he is not the only staff change on the defensive side of the ball that should excite Redskin fans.
Former 49ers coach Jim Tomsula has been brought in as the new defensive line coach. The defensive line was arguably the biggest weakness of last years group. However, Tomsula is one of the, if not the highest regarded defensive line coach in the NFL today according to his former and current players. Tomsula brings much needed intensity to what used to be a lack luster defense. With the addition of first round pick Jonathan Allen, the Redskins finally have a valuable piece on the defensive line which is especially necessary in the 3-4 scheme. Having said that, don’t be surprised if you see Washington change up their looks from a 3-4 to a 4-3. There is enough versatility to do so with the free agent signings of Stacy McGee, Terrell McClain, and Phil Taylor.
Other notable free agent signings include DJ Swearinger from Arizona and Zach Brown from Buffalo. Swearinger is a hard hitter who struggled in Houston as a young man in the NFL. He had a breakout season last year after joining the star studded Arizona defense. Swearinger may not be the best in coverage but he’s an intimidating force in the box and a confident tackler. It’s not all about the big hit in Swearinger’s game. He was also high school teammates with Josh Norman, which can only benefit the chemistry in the secondary. With Su’a Cravens moving to safety after a successful rookie season as a situational linebacker, it seems at least for now, that the Redskins have finally solved the conundrum that is the safety position. A position we have failed to solidify since the tragic death of Sean Taylor. Zach Brown had the 2nd most tackles in the NFL last season in Buffalo. Brown has excellent speed for a linebacker and is a true sideline to sideline tackler. He has outsdtanding pass coverage skill as well and can play man or zone coverage against tight ends, running backs, and even wide receivers. Brown will play alongside either Mason Foster or Will Compton in the base 3-4 scheme. Foster and Compton should have an interesting training camp battle for the other starting inside linebacker position.
With all of these upgrades in the front seven and the secondary, life will be much easier for Josh Norman this upcoming season. It is time to let our star on defense shine! And with the numbers Kirk Cousins put up last season, a better defense will equal more wins.
The Redskins did lose two 1,000 yard receivers from last season in Desean Jackson and Pierre Garçon. Make no mistake this is a huge blow. This means Jamison Crowder must step up his game. He will be facing tougher men in coverage this upcoming season, but he won’t have to face this daunting task alone. The Redskins signed Terrell Pryor from Cleveland in the offseason and are essentially getting an additional first round pick in Josh Doctson. Doctson was last season’s number one selection but was limited to only one game of action due to an achillies issue. Doctson says he’s 100% and has looked impressive in OTA’s. If Doctson can stay healthy, then the Redskins have gained a potential number one receiver in him. Pryor is looking to do the same. Anybody who can put up 1,000 yards receiving in Cleveland must be doing something right. Pryor had 5, yes 5 different quarterbacks throwing him the ball last season and still showed great skill and promise for the future. With decent route running ability and supperior pass catching skills, Pryor is the tall receiver Redskins fans have been crying for. With Pryor, Doctson, and Crowder all on the field with Jordan Reed at tight end, Kirk Cousins will have no problem at all distrubuting the football this upcoming season.
Overall prediction: The Redskins have a tough schedule this season, but with a much improved defense and an offense that has the ability to put up similar numbers as last season; I see the Redskins fighting for a wild card spot and finishing comfortably over the 7.5 win prediction made by Vegas at 9-7.