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Need to Know: Redskins have a big mountain to climb to improve their record

Need to Know: Redskins have a big mountain to climb to improve their record

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 6, 24 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

A big mountain to climb

A few weeks ago here I looked at some reasons why the Redskins could be better than we think. If you’ve been looking for the other side of that coin, reasons why the Redskins might not have a record much better than the 4-12 they posted last year, here it is.

If they do again end up with double-digit losses it won’t necessarily be due to not having improved personnel or the coaching staff. Scot McCloughan has done a good job of shoring up the team’s major weaknesses (and the hiring of McCloughan filled a major weak spot in the front office).

But the Redskins have a big mountain to climb. As Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post pointed out, the Redskins weren’t just bad last year. They were really bad.

They were outscored by 137 points, an average of 8.6 per game. Only three other teams had a worse point differential. If you look at the 15 games they played against teams not named the Jacksonville Jaguars that per-game deficit increases to 10.5 points per game. Their 12 losses came by an average of over two touchdowns (14.6 points).

The Redskins did not lose many games that they were in late. Only in the losses to the Eagles, Vikings and 49ers were they truly competitive throughout. If you want to say that they “shoulda” won those games, that’s fine. But they also “coulda” lost to the Titans, Cowboys, and Eagles.

In short, they were what their record said they were.

A tremendous improvement for the 2015 Redskins would be to cut the scoring deficit by about six points per game. If they can do that, they would be around -40 in scoring. What kind of record could that get them?

Last year the Browns were outscored by 38 and went 7-9. The Falcons were -36 in net points and went 6-10. The Panthers won the NFC South at 7-8-1 while going -35 in net points. Going back to 2013 the Bills were -49 in points and 6-10 in the standings.

So we could expect some modest improvement in their record if they can shave that scoring deficit down to a few points per game. How likely is such an improvement? It would be unusual but not unheard of. Since Joe Gibbs’ first departure from the Redskins head coaching job in 1992, they have improved by at least 85 net points from one season to the next five times. The most recent was from 2011-2012 when they went from -79 to +48, a 127-point swing in the positive direction.

That improvement lifted the Redskins from 5-11 in last place to 10-6 and the NFC East title. Rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris got the team’s offense rolling and led the turnaround. Is there a similar transformational force this time around?

Perhaps at least a partial return to form by Griffin, a revitalized rushing game featuring Morris and rookie Matt Jones and a solid defensive improvement will spur some solid improvement.

It’s possible but far from certain that they will experience the type of turnaround they have seen once every four years or so in the past 20 years. They also could be better, maybe substantially better, and still not have it show up in the "W" column. We will see if they can take a giant leap forward or if any progress is more in the form of baby steps.

Timeline

—It’s been 190 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 69 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 24; Preseason opener @ Browns 38; final cuts 61

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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

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Wanting increased playing time, Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency, per source

Redskins outside linebacker Junior Galette intends to pursue free agency to find a team that will give him plenty of snaps, per a source with knowledge of the situation.

Galette's contract will expire once the 2017 regular season ends, and while the 29-year-old pass rush specialist appreciates the Redskins organization and fans, he wants to play. 

After suffering season-ending Achilles injuries in 2015 and 2016, Galette has stayed healthy throughout the 2017 season. 

Still, he hasn't been on the field much.

Ryan Kerrigan leads the Redskins with 358 snaps in pass rush situations, and Preston Smith ranks second with 297, according to Pro Football Focus. 

Galette has played only 197 snaps this season in pass rush situations. 

For comparison, rookie Jonathan Allen logged 112 snaps in pass rush situations. Allen played in just five games before heading to the injured reserve with a Lisfranc injury. Galette has played in all 13 Redskins games this year, and hasn't appeared on the injury report once. 

Compounding the issue, Galette has been effective when on the field. 

Pro Football Focus rated him the third best defender on the Redskins this season, behind only Kerrigan and cornerback Kendall Fuller. 

As Rich Tandler noted, there will be a market for Galette. All NFL teams need pass rushers, and it appears Galette still has plenty left after his two-year layoff. Remember, in 2013 and 2014 Galette had 22 sacks for the New Orleans Saints.  This season, he has two sacks. 

The Redskins deserve credit for sticking with Galette after two lost seasons, though Galette deserves credit too for working back from not one but two Achilles injuries. 

Washington's coaches and front office speak highly of Galette, and there haven't been off field issues. For whatever reason, the playing time just hasn't been there. 

Looks like that will change next year. 

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Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

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USA TODAY Sports

Robert Griffin III listed the best places for Kirk Cousins to end up, and he left off the Redskins

Of course this was going to happen. 

The moment it became known that Robert Griffin III was going to be on ESPN's shows for a few appearances this week, you knew he was going to be asked about Kirk Cousins at some point.

And, surely enough, come Wednesday afternoon, the stars aligned and the question was asked on NFL Live: Where, in Griffin's opinion, was the best place for Cousins to land this offseason?

"I think it depends on what he's trying to do," Griffin began.

"If he's trying to make the most money, he goes to Cleveland," he said. "If he's trying to be in the best situation, he goes to one of these teams that have a great defense that isn't gonna put it all on his shoulders."

MORE: POWER RANKINGS - REDSKINS FALL LOWER THAN THEY HAVE ALL 2017

Don't worry, he doesn't stop there. In fact, he saved the good stuff for the latter half of his answer.

"He's had it all on his shoulders in Washington, and we've seen the result," Cousins' draft classmate continued. "But if he's got a great defense like, say, Denver, say, Jacksonville, it makes it easier for him as a quarterback. Whereas in Cleveland, he's gonna have to go in and he's gonna have to do more of the workload."

So, the Browns, Broncos and Jaguars are among the teams Griffin considers options for Cousins. But, uh, what about the one he's on right now?

"I don't think it's Washington, just because of, you've seen what's been going on," he said. "Do they want him there? Does he want to be there?"

This isn't to say that the former rookie of the year doesn't bring up valid points; Cousins has had to play with below-average defenses for much of his career in D.C. and the franchise hasn't exactly shown a ton of admiration for him.

But nevertheless, it was interesting to see Griffin declare wish such confidence that his old backup needs to bolt from the Redskins and head elsewhere.

And thus concludes another chapter of the Griffin-Cousins-Redskins saga. You can leave your comments about how you don't care about it below, even though you made the choice to click on the story in the first place.