It is not always possible to be positive going in to the new season when your team finished the last season 5-11, but Redskins’ fans have reasons for hope.
It is not just the hope that comes from securing, in all likelihood, a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III but hope across the board.
A tough schedule could see the Redskins struggle against the elite offences of New Orleans, divisional rivals New York Giants as well as the power defense of the Ravens. Yet there are games to be won and the Redskins should be able to improve on last year’s finish.
Defense was generally good last season, when compared to the rest of the team. They ranked 12th against the run (222.1 yards per game), 13th in yards allowed (339.8 yards per game), 18th against the run (117.8 yards per game) and 21st in points allowed (22.91 per game).
Brian Orepko and London Fletcher will once again lead the defence and along with new recruit, safety Brandon Merriweather will look to get at opposing quarterbacks.
Cornerback is a strong area for Washington, with the primary slots held by Cedric Griffin, DeAngelo Hall and Josh Wilson.
One of the biggest factors in the success of the team this year rests on the considerable shoulders of Will Montgomery and Trent Williams. The offensive line has to be strong, a requirement not helped by the absence of nose tackle Chris Neild, out with a torn ACL. Much will depend on how well Barry Cofield steps in.
The wide receiver position took a hit this summer with the departures of veterans Jabar Gaffney and Donte Stallworth to New England. The relationship between Griffin and his new number one receiver, former Colt, Pierre Garçon has extra significance.
Santana Moss will again have an important part to play, as will Josh Morgan and one or two of the younger receivers.
There are good options at tight end; with Fred Davis and Chris Cooley likely to be the biggest targets at that position.
While results may not be hugely dissimilar to last year, good drafting in the last few years should reap rewards, particular where this year’s crop is concerned.
This season, although Robert Griffin III is the first choice quarterback (given the cost of a swapped first round pick, this year’s second round pick and 2013 + 2014′s first round picks) there is also a genuine contest for the number two quarterback slot. Kirk Cousins was surprisingly taken in the fourth round of this year’s draft and is providing real competition to veteran Rex Grossman.
It could be that the real difference makers this season are the rookies; Griffin and Cousins are not the only first year players pushing hard for a place in the final 53 man squad.
Third round pick Josh LeRibeus has been getting reps at left guard along with Maurice Hurt in a bid to cover for the injury to Kory Lichtensteiger, who is recovering from knee surgery.
Cornerback Richard Crawford has had a strong off-season and had an impressive debut in the pre-season opener against the Buffalo Bills; recording an interception and showing he could have a place as a returner on special teams.
Alfred Morris, the former Florida Atlantic running back led the team in rushing yards in the first pre-season game against Buffalo. Morris projects as the fourth running back on the depth chart but injury could see him make the squad, possibly ahead of Roy Helu Jr.
Offensive lineman Adam Gettis, much like Josh LeRibeus is set to see plenty of the field, primarily as back up for right guard Chris Chester. Gettis has lightening speed off the line and although small for an offensive lineman he has worked extensively on his technique in order to be competitive. He is seen as a ‘Shanahan type of player’.
Linebacker Keenan Robinson is pushing for a back-up linebacker role, along with veterans Lorenzo Alexander and Bryan Khel, behind starters Perry Riley and London Fletcher, and should also make the squad.
217th pick, Jordan Bernstine will have to have to make a late surge to make it on special teams and avoid spending the year on the practice squad, while rookie lineman Tom Compton is probably going to miss out on making the roster.
With a bit of luck, strong defensive play and Griffin under center don’t be surprised if the Redskins manage a 7-9 season and make the playoffs.