Mike Shanahan was able to lead the Washington Redskins to an NFC East Title and a 10-6 record in 2012. However, that was the only bright spot in his four years here, and even that was aided by a 7-0 finish after a disastrous 3-6 start. The Redskins only won six games in 2010, five in 2011, and then plummeted to a 3-13 campaign in 2013 that led to his firing. Shanahan clashed with almost everyone in his ‘my way or the highway’ approach to the game, which just doesn’t work in the NFL anymore.

Enter Jay Gruden, the offensive mastermind behind the Cincinnati Bengals’ turnaround in recent years. The brother of former Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden, Jay helped improve Cincinnati’s offense each of the last three years while leading it to the playoffs in all three. Nearly the entire roster returns intact in Washington, so we’ll quickly find out if it was the players or the head coach that was the culprit to last season’s disaster.

Robert Griffin III had a phenomenal rookie season in 2012 before going down with a blown up knee. He may have rushed back last year, which could have been the cause of his struggles. He committed too many turnovers while compiling most of his stats in garbage time with his team already way behind. He was eventually benched for the final three games of the season. That could have been due to his poor performance, but many would say it was to preserve his health.

To help keep Griffin upright, the Redskins brought in some upgrades along the offensive line. They signed Shawn Lauvao in free agency to start at left guard. He’ll be stationed alongside Pro Bowl LT Trent Williams, but the Redskins will need to find a replacement for departed C Will Montgomery. They used two third-round draft picks on offensive linemen. They picked Morgan Moses and Spencer Long to eventually take over at right guard and right tackle, respectively. Tyler Polumbus and Chris Chester currently occupy those spots and both are below-average linemen.

The move that made the most headlines this offseason was the signing of DeSean Jackson from NFC East rival Philadelphia. Jackson fell out of flavor with the Eagles despite coming off a career year in which he caught 82 balls for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. However, he had never previously logged more than 63 receptions in a single season and probably benefited from playing in Chip Kelly’s offense. Still, his speed warrants extra attention, which should help free up Jordan Reed and Pierre Garcon, who went off for 113 catches, 1,346 yards and five touchdowns last year.

The running backs return pretty much intact. Alfred Morris had another solid year in 2013 with 1,275 yards and seven touchdowns while averaging 4.6 yards per carry. He may not get as many opportunities under the new coaching staff due to a change in philosophy. Gruden likes backs who are able to catch the ball out of the backfield, which is where Roy Helu will come into play. He had 31 receptions in limited action last year and figures to be a bigger part of the offense in 2014.

While the offense was a bit of a disappointment last year, it was nowhere near as bad as the defense. The Redskins ranked 31st in scoring defense, surrendering an astounding 29.9 points per game. The biggest weakness was a secondary that yielded 243.5 yards per game through the air, so the priority this offseason was bolstering that unit.

Washington signed two key defensive backs in safety Ryan Clark and cornerback Tracy Porter. Clark will provide some leadership, but he’ll turn 35 in October and is only a shell of his former self. He’ll start alongside mediocre safety Brandon Meriweather. Porter provides depth behind DeAngelo Hall and David Amerson. He was a stud in New Orleans and Denver, but struggled mightily last year in Oakland.

What will help out the secondary is an improved pass rush. Washington signed former Cowboy Jason Hatcher to a four-year, $27.5 million contract this offseason. He had 11 sacks with Dallas last year, proving that even at age 32 he can still be effective. He’ll start alongside Barry Cofield and Jarvis Jackson. Cofield is a proven pass rusher, while Jackson is superior at stuffing the run.

This D-line trio will help open up rushing lanes for Brian Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, who combined for 18.5 sacks last year. The Redskins also used a second-round pick on Trent Murphy (Stanford), who provides depth should Orakpo or Kerrigan go down with injuries as they have in the past. The real issue is who is going to replace London Fletcher? Perry Riley is a three-down player but struggled in 2013. Darryl Sharpton was signed in free agency to compete with 2012 fourth-rounder Keenan Robinson for the other starting ILB spot alongside Riley.

Last Season
NFC East
ATS Record
Home ATS
Road ATS
Offense Rank
Defense Rank
Turnover Margin
Points For
Points Against
2014 Roster Changes
Draft Picks
DE/OLB Trent Murphy, OT Morgan Moses, G Spencer Long, CB Bashaud Breeland, WR Ryan Grant
QB Colt McCoy, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Andre Roberts, OT Bruce Campbell, G Shawn Lauvao, G Mike McGlynn, DE/DT Jason Hatcher, DE/DT Clifton Geathers, ILB Daryl Sharpton, ILB Akeem Jordan, CB Tracy Porter, S Ryan Clark, S Brandon Meriweather
WR Josh Morgan, TE Richard Quinn, C/G Will Montgomery, DE/DT Adam Carriker, DE/OLB Darryl Tapp, ILB London Fletcher, CB Josh Wilson, P Sav Rocca
2014 Washington Redskins Schedule
Date Opponent
Spread (Est.)
Win Chance
9/7 @ Texans
9/14 Jaguars
9/21 @ Eagles
9/25 Giants
10/6 Seahawks
10/12 @ Cardinals
10/19 Titans
10/27 @ Cowboys
11/2 @ Vikings
11/16 Buccaneers
11/23 @ 49ers
11/30 @ Colts
12/7 Rams
12/14 @ Giants
12/20 Eagles
12/28 Cowboys
Estimated Wins: 7.30

The Redskins get to face the easiest schedule outside of the division of all the NFC East teams this year. That’s because they finished last in the division in 2013, which is a small consolation prize heading into 2014. They will take on the NFC West and AFC South divisions.

Obviously, the NFC West is the best division in football, but the AFC South is considered to be the worst by many. Where it gets easier for the Redskins is that they get to play the last-place Buccaneers from the NFC South and the last-place Vikings from the NFC North. That is an advantage that they will have against their NFC East rivals.

The schedule is pretty much a mixed bag with few really tough stretches and few really easy stretches. The Redskins will play just four playoff teams from last year, though they do have to play the Eagles twice. They have come away with the 16th-easiest schedule in 2014 as their opponents combined for a .490 winning percentage last year.

Taking a look at the odds to the right set by the books in Las Vegas, I find Washington favored six times and an underdog 10 times. Considering its win total is set at 7.5 games, there could be some value in betting the under as it is favored in just six. Check out my predictions below to see which side of this win total I like.

Odds (Courtesy of Bovada)
Regular Season Win Total
to Win the NFC
to Win Super Bowl 49
25 to 1
50 to 1

Talk about two seasons on the opposite end of the spectrum. The Redskins won the NFC East in 2012 with a 10-6 record before falling off the face of the earth in 2013 with a 3-13 campaign. So, which season is more telling about this team? I’m going to have to go with the former as I believe this is still one of the most talented teams in the NFC East alongside the Philadelphia Eagles.

The Redskins simply caught some terrible breaks last year and were nowhere near as bad as their 3-13 record would indicate. The most telling was their 2-6 record in games decided by a touchdown or less. Another is that they finished -8 in turnover differential. Also, consider that they actually outgained their opponents 369.7 to 354.1 on the season, or by an average of 15.6 yards per game.

I love the Gruden hire as he’ll inject new life into the team and get the most from the offense. Robert Griffin III is still a top-tier quarterback when healthy, and now he’ll have a new weapon on his side in Jackson, who is coming off a career year. The defense has a lot more talent than it gets credit for with the likes of Ryan Kerrigan, Brian Orakpo, Jason Hatcher, Ryan Clark and DeAngelo Hall leading the way.

Washington will not be as unfortunate this year in close games and in the turnover department. It does catch a break by finishing last in the division in 2013 because now it gets to face the Vikings and Buccaneers, while the rest of the NFC East has to take on the three best teams from those two divisions. I look for Washington to bounce back with a 9-7 campaign in 2014, which will be good enough to edge out the Eagles for first place in the division.

2014 Projections
NFC East Finish
Division Record
Overall Record
Win Total Prediction
Over 7.5
Redskins Resources
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