Chris Culliver. Terrance Knighton. Dashon Goldson. Jeron Johnson. Stephen Paea. There are more names to list, but the point is obvious: Redskins GM Scot McCloughan brought in a host of new players to beef up a struggling defense. The moves should pay off right away, especially in a secondary that was thin on talent and depth. But what about the offense?
The Redskins ranked 26th out of 32 in points last year, scoring just 301 total points in 16 games. That averaged out to 18 points per game, hardly a breakneck pace in a league moving more towards offense each season. So while McCloughan worked on an improved Washington defense, the Redskins lost two starters along their offensive line in Chris Chester and Tyler Polumbus along with No. 2 running back Roy Helu.
Some may argue that losing Chester and Polumbus will result in addition by subtraction, but that may be a rather simplistic outlook. Chester gave the 'Skins some good seasons, and was a strong run blocker. Polumbus struggled on the outside at tackle, but moved well in the zone block scheme. Neither player was a stalwart, but without both, the offensive line now likely turns to two players with little to no NFL experience in Spencer Long and Brandon Scherff. Could Long and Scherff perform better than Chester and Polumbus? Absolutely. Is that a certainty? Absolutely not. Scherff is a first-round talent, a Top 10 pick, and should step in and be an improvement over Polumbus right away. But many scouts projected Scherff as a guard, so his transition to tackle could be spotty early.
Debating the net loss or gain from Chester and Polumbus to Long and Scherff will be fun to watch to this fall, but few can argue that losing Helu isn't a blow for Washington. Drafting Matt Jones gives the Redskins an opportunity to replace Helu, but Jones is an unknown where Helu was reliable. In 2014, Helu accounted for nearly 700 yards and three touchdowns. Can Jones make up for that production? Perhaps, but will the rookie be able to give Washington a dependable pass catcher to back up Alfred Morris? It's hard to know that now. Jones appears to be in position be a strong back-up to Morris, perhaps taking over short yardage carries, but Helu was very effective out of the backfield in pass schemes and the two-minute drill.
So who will the 'Skins miss most? Chester, Polumbus or Helu? Or will the players replacing those guys (Long, Scherff and Jones) more than make up for the departed players? Let us know in the comments.