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Redskins are the NFL’s most mediocre team

Redskins are the NFL’s most mediocre team

The 2009 Washington Redskins will be about a .500 team.

I say this with confidence and not because I possess a crystal ball that allows me to peer into the future and see events to come with clarity. It's because I can see the past and recognize that a .500 team is what the Redskins are.

From 1995 through 2008, a span of 14 seasons, the Redskins have been within two games of the break even mark every year but two. Those two years, 2003 and 2006, they were just three games off the mark of mediocrity, finishing 5-11.

The Redskins are so average, in fact, that they are distinctively mediocre. Since 1995 every NFL team has either lost 12 or more games in a season or has won 12 or more at least once. Every team, that is, with the exception of the Redskins.

They are the NFL's perpetually half-full, half-empty glass.

They have tried to break out and either fill or empty the glass but the fates work against them. The '06 team could easily have dropped a dozen games but Troy Vincent blocked a late game-winning field goal attempt against Dallas and Sean Taylor's brilliant scramble—and a face-mask penalty committed in the process—set up a Nick Novack game-winning field goal on an untimed down.

On the other side of the coin the 2005 team won ten and could easily have won two more but they suffered close, frustrating losses to Denver, Kansas City, Tampa Bay, Oakland, and San Diego.

It's clear that the Football Gods have determined that the Redskins of the late 20th and early 21st centuries are a middling team. There is no compelling evidence to suggest that they will escape that fate this year.

Defensively they added strength to strength with the additions of Albert Haynesworth and Brian Orakpo. Those two could move the Redskins D from good to great.

But there is little chance that the offense will be even good. Jason Campbell is in his make or break year and even if he makes it he won't be anything approaching an elite quarterback. Was Clinton Portis' slump at the end of last year an indication that his career has hit the wall?

The receiving corps could be good if at least one of the two receivers drafted in the second round last year, Malcolm Kelly or Devin Thomas, has a breakout year. That could happen, but holding your breath waiting for it is not advised.

The offensive line has potential—the potential to be a train wreck. The ten that they keep on the roster mostly will be a combination of the old and injury prone and the young and untested.

If the Redskins are to finish on the upside of the fated limit and win 10 games the defense must provide the offense with short fields. Haynesworth needs to collapse the middle and allow the defense to increase significantly its sack total from the 24 it posted last year. The pressure needs to make the opposing quarterback throw the ball up for grabs to force turnovers.

Should Campbell and company get opportunities to make some 14-yard touchdown drives or, better yet, watch from the sidelines as the defense records a pick six, life will be a lot easier and the Redskins could record a double-digit win total.

But if the defense merely remains strong but is of limited help to the offense in terms of providing highly favorable field position, the Redskins are likely to trend towards the down side of their potential. They simply aren't strong enough offensively to drive 80 yards to score every time they get the ball.

Where will the 2009 Redskins fall within the range of six to 10 wins? It says here that Haynesworth is enough of a difference maker on defense that the team will be able to overcome a leaky offensive line and score enough to post a 9-7 record.

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Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Need to Know: Five safe draft picks for the Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Sunday, April 22, four days before the 2018 NFL draft.  

Five safe picks for the Redskins

Sometimes teams try to hit home runs with their draft picks. They may hit a few but they also will strike out a lot. Teams often are better off trying to hit solid singles and doubles. Here are five picks who would are unlikely to make many Pro Bowls but the Redskins would not regret the pick if they turned in the cards with their names on it. 

RB Kerryon Johnson, Auburn—I’m starting off here with a player who would be a safe pick in the third round. Of course, the Redskins don’t have a third right now but if they do swing a trade and get one, Johnson would be a good pick. He doesn’t have breakaway speed, which is one reason why he might be available in the third. He is a grinder who will be an upgrade over Samaje Perine and Rob Kelley. 

DL Vita Vea, Washington—There is plenty of hand wringing over whether Vea is a three-down player or just a base defense nose tackle. But even if he can’t rush the passer very well his floor is a player who can go a long way towards helping the Redskins stop the run, a chronic weakness. This is why a lot of fans and media are urging the Redskins to not overthink this and take a player that will, at a minimum, bolster one of their weakest areas. 

OL Billy Price, Ohio State—He started 55 games for the Buckeyes, the most of any player in the storied history of the program. He did suffer the partial tear of a chest muscle in the combine but that will be fully healed by training camp. When he’s ready, he’s an explosive, smart, and powerful player. Just plug him in at left guard and the Redskins’ O-line is set with all home-grown talent. 

LB Leighton Vander Esch, Boise State—He doesn’t have the ceiling that the more heralded Roquan Smith and Tremaine Edmunds have. However, he may have a higher floor. Smith is undersized, and Edmunds will be highly drafted based more on potential than on production. At 6-4, 256, Vander Esch has plenty of size, and he racked up 141 tackles last year on his way to defensive player of the year honors in the Mountain West. 

 CB Isaiah Oliver, Colorado—The All-Pac-12 selection has the size and athleticism that add up to a safe pick in the second round. He needs some work on technique, but he has enough natural athletic ability—he competed in the decathlon—to be a productive cornerback right out of the gate. One other plus that fans will appreciate is that his strength is press coverage, not off man. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCSand follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS.

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Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 30
—Training camp starts (7/26) 95
—Redskins @ Cardinals (9/9) 140

In case you missed it

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Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Need to Know: The Redskins week that was—All-Redskins mock, fast-fading interest in Dez

Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, April 21, five days before the 2018 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

Should the Redskins pursue Dez Bryant? This topic was one like a meteor, very hot for a short period of time before it quickly faded out. It started to heat up as soon as the Cowboys cut Dez (about a month too late) and when it was reported that he wanted to play against Dallas twice a year it really picked up steam. But then people started to actually think and figured out that signing Bryant didn’t make much sense for the Redskins. Add to that the reports that the Redskins had no interest and would not look into signing Dez in the future and the Redskins fans quickly lost enthusiasm for the topic.

Seven-round Redskins mock draft—I think that most Redskins fans would be happy with this mock. Well, I’ll say some Redskins fans, most is a pretty strong word in this case. 

Is the draft pool deep enough for the Redskins to trade back? There is plenty of talk about the Redskins trading down in the first round to recoup the third-round pick they gave up in the Alex Smith trade. But they need to be careful. Many consider the draft to be top heavy and they may lose their chance to pick up an impact player if they trade back too far. The question then becomes one of quality vs. quantity. 

Three questions as offseason workouts get underway—There will be plenty more questions that we can ask about this team. But we don’t really know what to ask before the draft, particularly when it comes to the defensive line and running back. One the personnel settle into place we will know what we don’t know. 

Tweet of the week

On Chris Cooley’s thought that the Redskins might try to trade back and get Da’Ron Payne in the draft and the use the assets obtained to move up to get Derrius Guice. 

This is related to the questions about trading back. On paper it looks like a good idea, assuming the Redskins want Payne. We’re pretty sure they would like to have Guice but we haven’t heard as much about the Alabama defensive lineman. 

I had many reply that Guice won’t be there in the second round. It’s possible, perhaps even likely, but you just don’t know. There was zero chance that Jonathan Allen would be there at No. 17 last year, right? 

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.

Timeline  

Days until:

—OTAs start (5/22) 31
—Training camp starts (7/26) 96
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 141

In case you missed it