|(Trent Williams isn't afraid of Sherman's mouth or the Seahawks. GIF via sportsmancave)|
Well, the Redskins should be a better team in 2014 (barring injury) than they were in 2013. The offense is healthy and much more scarier with the additions of DeSean Jackson and Andre Roberts compared to last year's #2 and #3 WRs in Josh Morgan and Santana Moss (We still and always will be big fans of Santana, but there is a reason he's the #4 WR on the team at this point in his career).
The defense looks more aggressive, imposing and deeper at various positions compared to last season and the same could be said about the special teams unit as well.
The team made some curious off-season moves, but their best moves may had been with the coaching staff. As we have said in a previous article here on IIWII, the infusion of youth and experience has changed the atmosphere and emotion on this team.
But today I'm not as focused on the Redskins as I am looking at who they're playing this year. I'm going to do this by looking at the divisions that the 'Skins are playing with a quick breakdown of each team and a rating of said team (elite, above average, average, below average and terrible) and then a win potential with each group. This will allow me to get a general prediction of where I think this team will wind up in 2014.
By the way, I would consider the Redskins an average team based on my rankings right now. Which means I'd put them anywhere from #20 to #11 in the league (although right now I'd have them in the 20's). Let's get started!
1. Jacksonville Jaguars (terrible, predicting 4th place finish)
I actually think the Jags had a good off-season both in draft and free agency. That said, there just isn't much on this team and the few moves they did isn't nearly enough to make up for years of having an inept front office.
2. Tennessee Titans (below average, predicting 3rd place finish)I think Ken Whisenhunt makes this team better but still way behind the Colts and Texans in talent and probably record. Their defense is a mess and they have O-line problems. DC fans worry about RGIII's future? Well look at the mess the Titans have with Jake Locker.
3. Houston Texans (average, predicting 2nd place finish)
If anything the Texans are the Redskins AFC counterpart. Both teams are better than their 2013 records. Both failed miserably under a Shanahan scheme. Both have new but experienced coaches to lead them. The thing is though is that the Texans have no starting caliber quarterback on their team (it's like the Redskins of 2011 than relied on Rex Grossman and John Beck), Arian Foster is always injured and they have a questionable secondary. I'd expect low scoring games for the Texans to win this season.
4. Indianapolis Colts (above average, predicting 1st place finish)
Andrew Luck will light it up as he did in 2013. But here's the problem, I don't think they have much of a run game. I don't trust their offensive line in either run or pass blocking. I think their defense will be even more Ravens -like this season which means Luck won't have to play shootout football. I just don't think that they're much better than they were last season. Most teams wouldn't mind having the Colts record, but the Colts would like to start getting to the next level,
1. St. Louis Rams (average, predicting 4th place finish)
Even without Sam Bradford, the Rams, if in the NFC East, would be in a good position to win the division. Unfortunately, they are in the NFC West and it's likely that they'll be in last place again.
2. Arizona Cardinals (average, predicting 3rd place finish)
Yes, they have a strong defense but they've been hindered by injuries/suspensions. Carson Palmer can be a turnover machine and Larry Fitzgerald isn't getting any younger.
3. San Francisco 49ers (above average/elite, predicting 2nd place finish)
I'd say they were an elite team if not for some off-season troubles and lingering concerns about some elements on their team. Still can beat most of the NFC.
4. Seattle Seahawks (elite, predicting 1st place finish)
They didn't lose much in the off-season are young and have the loudest stadium in the NFL. Almost impossible to beat at home.
2 Conference Games
Minnesota Vikings (below average, predicting 4th place finish)
New coaching staff with not very many pieces in place to win now. Probably will struggle a bit in year one.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers (average, predicting 2nd/3rd place finish)
The Bucs may be a much better team than many think. Defense should be better, just depends on how well Josh McCown plays.
Eagles (above average)
They lost DJax, still have a questionable defense and teams have had another year to figure out Kelly's schemes. Tough to say how the Redskins will fare against them.
This is an old team that is trying to rebound with a new offensive coordinator/scheme. They have looked horrible in the pre-season. Hopefully, we'll see a lot of Manning face this year.
Cowboys (Below average)
I'd have them as terrible, but the Redskins find ways to lose to the worst teams in the NFCE. Hard to say, but the Cowboys defense may be worse than they were last year. They do have a good offensive line and Dez Bryant but it really comes down to Tony Romo's health to determine if the Cowboys will win anything this season.
At this point, it's hard to tell where the Redskins will wind up. I think they have good chances defeating Jax, Ten, Min and Dallas. I think they'll have real challenges against Ind, Sea, SF and Philly. Everybody else is pretty much a toss up. Probably not what you want to read (or have read elsewhere) but it's really hard to tell where the Redskins stand against the rest of the NFL.
It's going to come down to whether RGIII looks like the guy from lat 2012 or the guy from 2013, if the defense and special teams can be improved and whether or not Jay Gruden can keep this team together in some difficult stretches.
If this team can play better maybe they can win 9-10 games. They have the talent on paper to do this. If they can't; if RGIII falters or the team suffers a few significant injuries then they could be a 5-6 win team.
I'm going to be cautious and go 7-9, which doesn't seem that great but is a major improvement from 2013 with hopes that the team will be better in 2015.