Thursday, June 11, 2015

Three Answers To Questions Every Redskin Fan Wants To Know

(Time for me to break out the old Magic 8 Ball and answer some questions.)
I know all of the excitement is currently aimed at OTAs, the practices with the Texans and the upcoming mini-camp but I've seen a great deal of discussion about some other major topics that will affect the team and I figure I would take a shot and try to answer them the best that I can given what I know and where I think the team is headed.

So, today I'm going to look at major questions that will have significant consequences for the next couple of years based on what happens in the 2015 season.

Remember, this is the era of Scot McCloughan and the first legitimate GM the team has had since 1999 (No, sorry, Bruce Allen doesn't count during his 2010-2014 run. He was pretty much team president then with either Mike Shanahan or Scott Campbell doing the talent evaluations.) and there will be changes. We've already seen a decent amount since he's been hired and I expect more to come as we hit the 2016 off season.

1. How Many Games Will The Redskins Win in 2015?

Before I get to a prediction let me say the following things. First, is that I love what Scot McCloughan has done in his brief time with the team. He's made the team younger, addressed gaping holes and filled it with affordable talent. He's looking at the future but expecting progress and some results now.

I also have loved the hiring of Callahan and the new strength and conditioning coaches. I think Matt Cavanaugh will be a great addition and take some extra pressure off of Sean McVay. I've even warmed to the hiring of Joe Barry, because let's face it, we didn't get that much from Jim Haslett's defense.

But I have to be realistic here. I only see the Redskins winning at best around seven to maybe eight games this season. First, you have to look at the schedule. For a team that had the 5th worst record in 2014, they have one of the most difficult schedules in 2015. They will be facing five teams coming off of extra rest this season and have to face the Super Bowl champs later this year. I don't know if Barry's one-gap 3-4 will work with the roster talent and the 'Skins still have serious question marks at safety. Offensively the team has many questions at quarterback, two key players (Trent Williams and Jordan Reed) currently out with injuries, a young and inexperienced O-line and a scheme that's still trying to find an identity.

I do think that the 2015 Redskins will be a much better team than the 2014 Redskins and if you have to hold me down to one record, I'd say 6-10 right now. That doesn't sound like much improvement, but a two game upswing combined with 4-5 very close probable losses is much better than the inept mess that we saw frequently in 2014.

2. Will Jay Gruden Be The Redskins Head Coach in 2016?

I think so barring some type of crazy meltdown. Now, if the Redskins go 4-12 or worse with McCloughan's upgrades, I think he's gone. I also think it's about 50/50 if they only win five games. In that case there would have to be some reason for why the Redskins didn't improve (major injuries, another RGIII regression) and the team overall would need to show improvement. Any signs that Gruden had lost the locker room and he'll be out the door.

But since I think the 'Skins will win six anyway, I think the team will give him another season to try to get to .500 or better. I know 10-22 doesn't sound like a great record, but I just don't see Dan Snyder paying Jay three years of fully guaranteed salary to just go away.

3. Will RGIII Be The Starting QB in 2016? clearly the hardest answer to predict. Griffin hasn't played an entire season either by injury or benching, so it's hard to determine how many games he'll actually play in 2015. The good news is that Griffin has had an off season where he hasn't been the number one topic. He's already spent time with his receivers in a separate session as well as the current OTAs. The word is that Griffin has dedicated himself even more to film study than he has in the past and the early word is that there has been progress.

That said, ESPN 980's Chris Russell made the following comment after observing an OTA session:
I'll write about the quarterbacks more in-depth later but as usual there were some good things and plenty of bad things that I noted. Safe to say this - if this team has to depend on a quarterback to throw 30-plus times in a game, they are in a LOT of trouble.
This kind of makes sense when you think of RGIII over the past three seasons. He is a playmaker who does excel at making things happen on the field (both good and bad). His biggest problems over the years has been being able to hit a WR on a pass when he's covered or make some of the more expected passes.

I doubt RGIII will ever be Peyton Manning or Tom Brady but in order to remain the 'Skins starter, he'll need to get close to his 2012 numbers when it came to accuracy and turnovers. I also don't expect him to be much of a running quarterback anymore (at least not like he was in 2012), but he'll need to know when to use his speed to run for a 1st down and to use his agility to slide away from defenders.

The 'Skins look like they are trying to help Griffin get rid of the ball by having more RBs used as pass catchers and to use more runs which will set up play action (ideally, RGIII excels at play action passing Joe Gibbs would have loved him). Hopefully, we can finally see some of the QB that we saw in 2012.

My Magic 8 Ball is hazy when it comes to this answer, so I'll leave it at this. If Griffin can stay healthy and have a productive 2015, then he'll probably be back. If he struggles..... I would not be in the least surprised to see the Redskins take a QB in the 1st round of the 2016 draft.