The Redskins have made it clear that they are not satisfied with going 9-7 last year and going one and done in the playoffs.
“I think a lot of people think we had a good year and we won the NFC East which we’re happy about but bottom line is we were 9-8 and wasn’t good enough to our standards that we want to hold for ourselves,” Jay Gruden said during the NFL owners meetings last month. “We have to get a lot better.”
Many fans equate getting better with getting a lot of new players and the Redskins probably will have a significant amount of roster turnover. But bringing in new players is not the only way to improve. A lot of improvement can come from within. Yesterday, we looked at players who were in minor roles last year who could prove to be upgrades. Today we look at starters who can improve and later on we’ll examine players who missed most or all of last year with injuries.
The Redskins have quite a few starters who have considerable room for improvement:
OT Morgan Moses—A year ago Moses was rehabbing from a Lisfranc injury, forcing him to miss the offseason program. He became the starter at right tackle in training camp and played well. This year he will have a year as a starter under his belt and the benefit of workouts and OTAs.
WR Jamison Crowder—It took only a few weeks of the regular season for Crowder to displace Andre Roberts as the starting slot receiver. He set the team rookie record with 59 receptions and there is plenty of room for improvement. Crowder seemed to hit a rookie wall; he had 42 receptions through the first nine games and then just 17 more the rest of the way. If he can finish the season strong he could post some impressive numbers.
RB Matt Jones—He technically wasn’t the starter but when healthy he shared snaps with Alfred Morris. Jones will be the team’s most scrutinized improvement project in the offseason. RB coach Randy Jordan will be working with Jones to improve his vision and get him to hold on to the ball better. If he is successful the Redskins will have an excellent combination of power and speed at their disposal.
OLB Preston Smith—The Redskins second-round pick finished the season on a tear, posting six sacks in the last four games including one for a safety in the playoff game against the Packers. He probably won’t keep up that pace over 16 games but he’ll probably start off the season more productively (3 sacks in first 13 games). If he can get somewhere in the low double digits the Redskins will be pretty happy.
CB Bashaud Breeland—A knee injury he suffered early in training camp sidelined him for most of August, including the first three preseason games. The second-year player seemed to get through that just fine and he had a good season. What kept him from having a great season were some dropped interceptions he had in his hands. Breeland could gather legitimate Pro Bowl consideration is he continues to elevate his game and can pick off half a dozen or more passes.
Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, March 24, 33 days before the NFL draft.
The Redskins week that was
A look at some of the most popular posts and hottest topics of the week on Real Redskins and NBC Sports Washington.
Free agency update: What's next for the Redskins on the D-line? The Redskins have been casting out lines for defensive linemen since before free agency officially started but they haven’t been able to reel one in. Part of the issue might be that they know that Vita Vea and Da’Ron Payne are likely to be available in the draft. They have to balance spending big on a lineman vs. being able to get one pretty cheap for the next five years.
Redskins make a D-line contract change, gain roster flexibility—Speaking of the D-line, the team negotiated the removal of a salary guarantee for one player to give themselves more flexibility when it comes time to cut the roster down to 53 in September. See the post for details.
Redskins guarantee Alex Smith a whopping $71 million in new contract—In the words of Joe Biden, this is a big f-----g deal. It showed that the Redskins aren’t afraid to pay a quarterback big money if they think it’s the right guy. It should be noted that whether or not they chose the right guy is something that remains to be seen. Although the post shows that it’s plausible for the Redskins to terminate the deal after three years, I anticipate Smith playing out at least four if not all five years of the contract.
Redskins add another ex-Cowboy as they sign Scandrick—Orlando Scandrick has struggled with injuries the past few years and Redskins fans did not greet the news of his signing with great enthusiasm, to say the least. To point out the bright side, his contract is not pricey by NFL terms ($2.6 million cap hit this year, no guaranteed money beyond a $1 million signing bonus) and from what I have been able to gather it’s possible that change of scenery might give him a boost for a year or two.
Tweet of the week
Well before free agency started, I wrote that the Redskins’ top priorities in free agency should be to get extensions done for Smith, Brandon Scherff, and Jamison Crowder. They should have about $15 million to work with after a few more free agent signings and that would be plenty to get all of those extensions done. And if they do score a big free agent signing, it would be worth it to restructure the contract of someone like Ryan Kerrigan to get them done.
Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.
—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 23
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 124
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 169
In case you missed it
Philadelphia Eagles lineman Michael Bennett has been indicted on felony abuse for allegedly pushing an elderly NRG Stadium worker during Super Bowl LI.
Bennett was indicted by the Harris County, Texas district attorney's office for injury to the elderly — which is intentionally and knowingly causing injury to a person 65 years or older, according to a press release from the Harris County Sheriffs' Office.
A warrant has been issued for Bennett's arrest.
The 66-year-old paraplegic stadium worker was attempting to control field access when Bennett allegedly pushed her.
The maximum penalty Bennett faces is ten years in prison in addition to a $10,000 fine.
2018 NFL DRAFT: MOCK DRAFT 6.0
Bennett — whose brother Martellus played in that Super Bowl for New England — was a member of the Seattle Seahawks during the incident and was in attendance as a noncompetitive player.
The NFL has been made aware of the situation and is looking into the matter, according to Pro Football Talk.
The 32-year-old 10-year NFL veteran could potentially face NFL discipline under the league's personal conduct policy.
RELATED: NO DEAL WITH GALETTE