Anyone wondering whether there was a quarterback controversy in Washington was abruptly put in their place by Redskins head coach Jay Gruden when he announced that Robert Griffin III is their guy in 2015. Griffin, who has had trouble with injuries among other things, will enter his fourth NFL season with the Washington Redskins already picking up his option for 2016. If anything, it is a serious boost of confidence for the former Heisman Trophy winner. Gruden’s first year as the head man in Washington was downright awful at times. Regarded as a pretty savvy offensive coach, Gruden struggled playing three QBs – Griffin, Kirk Cousins, and Colt McCoy. It didn’t help that the offensive line allowed 58 sacks. The running game, once a strong point with running back Alfred Morris, faltered to gain just 105.7 yards per game in 2014.
With such a demoralizing season, the Washington Redskins have been posted as one of the biggest longshots on the NFL odds board in Super Bowl predictions to win at +12500, to win the NFC Conference (+6600) and to win the NFC East (+1400). Still, there is reason to be excited in Washington. The Redskins stockpiled draft picks and instantly improved their offensive line with top draft pick Brandon Scherff, a 6-5, 319-pound behemoth from Iowa. They also added another big, physical running back in Florida’s Matt Jones (6-2, 231), as well as two quality receivers in Duke’s Jamison Crowder and Evan Spencer from Ohio State. Washington also worked the free agent market in the offseason revamping a defense that tied for 30th in scoring defense last year. The Redskins gave up 27.4 points per game. The first thing owner Daniel Snyder and the organization did was to get rid of defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and replace him with Joe Barry.
Then, the Redskins signed three quality defensive linemen in Ricky Jean-Francois, Stephen Paea, and Terrance Knighton. This should greatly help linebacker Ryan Kerrigan, who established himself as one of the league’s best with 13.5 sacks last season. Washington also traded for Dashon Goldson, a Pro Bowl safety, signed cornerback Chris Culliver, and drafted CB Tevin Mitchel of Arkansas to elevate the secondary. With a group of quality skill players in WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garcon, TE Jordan Reed, and Morris and Griffin, Gruden should do much better offensively if the Redskins stay healthy. While Super Bowl predictions show that the Redskins may still be a few players away from challenging for a 2015 NFC East title and postseason berth, Washington should fare better than their 4-12 record a year ago.
Redskins Update (9/8/15): Washington are now +12500 favorites in Super Bowl predictions, +6600 to win the NFC Conference and +1400 to win the NFC East.