The Washington Redskins are coming off a dismal 4-12 season in Jay Gruden’s first year on the job. They went through three different quarterbacks, lost five games by 20 or more points, and finished 30th in the league in turnover differential (-12). Things can only get better in D.C. in 2015.

New general manager Scot McCloughan was given full authority of all personnel moves, leaving awful owner Daniel Snyder out of the equation. McCloughan’s philosophy in the draft was size and volume. The team amassed 10 picks and earned widespread praise in the industry for its strategy.

The Redskins announced that Robert Griffin III will be the starting quarterback to stop any controversy before it began. But after winning just seven games over the past two seasons, McCloughan has his hands full in trying to make this a speedy turnaround in D.C. Let’s see what’s in store for the Redskins in 2015.

Last Season
NFC East
Record
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Over/Under
4th
4-12
5-11
2-6
3-5
7-8-1
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
13th
20th
-12
18.8
27.4
2015 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
Brandon Scherff (OL), Preston Smith (DE), Matt Jones (RB), Jamison Crowder (WR), Arie Kouandjio (OG), Martrell Spaight (OLB), Kyshoen Jarrett (SS), Tevin Mitchel (CB), Evan Spencer (WR), Austin Reiter (C)
Additions
Terrance Knighton (DT), Chris Culliver (CB), Stephen Paea (DT), Dashon Goldson (FS), Jeron Johnson (SS), DE Ricky Jean-Francois
Losses
Brian Orakpo (OLB), Jarvis Jenkins (DE), Roy Helu (RB), Leonard Hankerson (WR), E.J. Biggers (FS), Barry Cofield (NT), Stephen Bowen (DE), Brandon Merriweather (SS), Santana Moss (WR), Tyler Polumbus (OT), Chris Chester (OG), Ryan Clark (S)
2015 Washington Redskins Schedule
Week Opponent Spread Win Chance
1 Dolphins +2 0.47
2 Rams +2 0.47
3 @ Giants +2 0.47
4 Eagles +2.5 0.45
5 @ Falcons +3.5 0.36
6 @ Jets +2 0.47
7 Buccaneers -4 0.66
8 BYE
9 @ Patriots +8.5 0.20
10 Saints PK 0.50
11 @ Panthers +5 0.32
12 Giants +1 0.49
13 Cowboys +3 0.41
14 @ Bears +4 0.34
15 Bills +1 0.49
16 @ Eagles +7 0.25
17 @ Cowboys +7.5 0.22
Estimated Wins: 6.87
Offense

While Gruden was known as an offensive guru, his first season in Washington leading the offense was a disaster. The quarterback position was a revolving door of mediocrity. The trio of Griffin, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy was sacked a total of 58 times. The running game never got going, and a lot of that has to do with Griffin’s inability to return to the form that he showed in his rookie season. They are really a mess on this side of the ball to put it lightly.

Griffin has been responsible for more turnover (26) than touchdowns (21) during a 7-25 stretch for the Redskins over the past two seasons. The talent is still there for Griffin, but he seems so scarred mentally that it’s fair to question whether or not he will ever recovered. He was benched in favor of Cousins last year. It remains to be seen whether or not Griffin can fit into Gruden’s offense, but it’s safe to say that they’re off to a rocky start.

In all fairness to Griffin, the offensive line has been awful. That’s why the Redskins spent the No. 5 overall pick on tackle Brandon Scherff, widely considered the best blocker in the 2015 class. Scherff is probably best suited as a guard, but the Redskins need him to play right tackle this year. He’ll start opposite left tackle Trent Williams, who is easily the best lineman on the team. Left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Kory Lichtensteiger are average at best. The biggest position of concern though is right guard, where 2014 third-rounder Spencer Long takes over for the departed Chris Chester.

There are some questions at the skill positions as well. Tight end Jordan Reed is a very talented, athletic player, but he recently underwent a knee procedure and hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Niles Paul is an adequate backup, but he doesn’t have the same upside as Reed. DeSean Jackson has had health concerns of his own in year’s past, but he stayed mostly healthy in 2014, catching 56 balls for 1,169 yards and six touchdowns. Pierre Garcon suffered a big drop in production last year, catching 68 passes for 752 yards and three scores. It remains to be seen whether or not Garcon is a great fit for this offense.

Alfred Morris has seen his carries, yards, and yards per carry decline each of the last two years. He still rushed for 1,074 yards and eight touchdowns while averaging 4.1 per carry last season, but it’s clear that he misses Griffin III’s dual-threat ability more than anyone. One loss that is getting overlooked is third-down back Roy Helu, who caught 42 balls last year and averaged 5.4 yards per carry. The Redskins used their third-round pick on Florida’s Matt Jones, who figures to take over Helu’s spot as the primary backup and third-down back.

Defense

As poor as the offense was last season, the defense was probably the biggest reason the Redskins finished 4-12 last year. They finished 30th in scoring defense (27.4 points/game) and must improve. They have almost totally revamped this side of the ball. Former Chargers linebacker coach Joe Barry takes over for the embattled Jim Haslett as defensive coordinator. They parted ways with pass rusher Brian Orakpo, who never quite developed into the kind of player the Redskins envisioned when they picked him the first round in 2009.

They traded for safety Dashon Goldson this offseason. He struggled in Tampa Bay, but the Redskins are hoping a fresh start does him some good. Starting next to Goldson will be one of Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson, Trenton Robinson or sixth-round rookie Kysheon Jarrett, so at least they have some depth.

The better transaction was adding Chris Culliver for four years and $32 million. He played well in San Francisco last year, giving up just a 50.7 completion percentage to opposing receivers. He’ll be the best corner on the team now, and it’s up in the air who will start opposite him. DeAngelo Hall is coming off a torn Achilles, which leaves 2014 fourth-rounder Bashaud Breeland to take his place until he’s healthy.

The biggest offseason acquisition was nose guard Terrance Knighton. The former Bronco was one of the most sought-after free agents on the market. I like the move to give Knighton a one-year deal because he will now be playing for his next big contract. He’ll start next to defensive ends Jason Hatcher and Stephen Paea. Hatcher is coming off one of his best seasons as a pro, recording 5.5 sacks. Paea signed a four-year, $21 million deal as he comes over from the Bears. He is coming off a career year in Chicago and the Redskins hope he can keep it up.

The inside linebackers will be Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley. Despite leading the team in tackles (109), Robinson struggled against the run. That’s why the team spent a fifth-round pick on Martrell Spaight to push Robinson for playing time. The spent a much earlier pick on outside linebacker Preston Smith, taking the Mississippi State product in the second round. He’ll likely be the Orakpo’s replacement and start opposite Ryan Kerrigan, who was arguably the team’s best defender last season as he finished with 13.5 sacks, which was eight more than second place on the team. Don’t count out Trent Murphy, a 2014 second-rounder who played well against the run as a rookie last year, but didn’t offer up much of a pass rush.

Odds (Courtesy of 5Dimes)
Season Win Total
to Make Playoffs
to Win NFC East
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl 50
6.5
+650
+1500
+6600
+23500
Season Predictions

The Redskins had to be tempted to blow everything up like they have in the past and start over. But they decided to keep some continuity with Gruden and Griffin III both returning, though I’m not sure they are a great match for one another. The one thing I am sure of is that 2015 will determine whether or not one or both will be back next season.

The Redskins actually outgained opponents by 1.6 yards per game last year in spite of their 4-12 record, so they may not be as far off as most believe. Improving upon the -12 turnover differential would be a good place to start. I think the offense will be better because of improved O-line play, and the Redskins certainly upgraded their defense by bringing in Culliver, Goldson, Knighton and Paea, who will all be new starters.

I’m not convinced that the Gruden/RG III combo is going to work, though. I just don’t think RG III’s skill set matches what Gruden is trying to get done offensively. Without his legs, RG III is no more than a below-average quarterback in this league. As a result, the Redskins are still the fourth-best team in the NFC East for a third straight year in 2015.

2015 Projections
NFC East Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
4th
1-5
5-11
Under 6.5
Redskins 10-Year Results
Year W L Playoffs Coach Win Total
2014 4 12 Gruden 7.5
2013 3 13 Shanahan 8
2012 10 6 Lost WC Shanahan 6.5
2011 5 11 Shanahan 6
2010 6 10 Shanahan 7.5
2009 4 12 Zorn 8.5
2008 8 8 Zorn 7.5
2007 9 7 Lost WC Gibbs 7.5
2006 5 11 Gibbs 9
2005 10 6 Lost Div Gibbs 7.5

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