After winning just seven games the last two seasons, it would take the most enthusiastic Redskins supporter to expect greatness this fall. Most predictions land the Redskins out of the playoffs, and even in last place in the NFC East. But how low is low?
Peter King of MMQB.com came out with his offseason power ranks, and the results aren't pretty for Washington. King ranked the 'Skins 25th out of 32 teams, writing:
I’d love to muster up enthusiasm for Jay Gruden, a good man and a good coach. But I can’t get his RGIII negativity out of my head from last season. Only Robert Griffin III can do that—for both of us.
2014 did not reveal a strong working relationship between Gruden and Griffin, and King doesn't seem to expect much improvement in 2015. While both coach and QB have said the right things so far this season - and the Redskins stood by their word by picking up RG3's 2016 option - it's only June. The real test for Gruden will be once Griffin inevitably has a bad practice, preseason game or real game. Quarterbacks struggle in the NFL, even the best, but it's the penchant for drama surrounding poor performances that have driven the harsh critiques of Griffin from Gruden.
While King's synopsis of the Redskins focused on coach and QB, Washington GM Scot McCloughan did much to improve a porous defense, investing heavy in the secondary as well as up front, and the GM may have added two immediate starters via the draft. The sad truth is even improvement from Washington's 4-12 campaign in 2014 could still land the team as the NFL's 25th best team. 6-10 would be an step forward, yet still not good enough to break into the top half of the league.
Elsewhere in the NFC East, the Eagles took the no. 7 spot in King's rankings. Dallas landed at No. 13 while the New York Giants just outpaced the 'Skins, landing at No. 22.
Washington fans probably don't like the ranking, but that doesn't make it any less appropriate. If anything is misguided in King's analysis, perhaps, it's the focus on RG3. For a better team in D.C., defense, special teams and the offensive line need to improve. It's also worth noting that Gruden can improve, both in coaches challenges as well as play-calling duties. In the end, Griffin must also perform better than he has the last two seasons. If not he will likely get benched, the Redskins will lose, or both.
NFL rankings in June are worth about as much as subprime mortgage bonds. They mean nothing. Every season, some NFL team makes a remarkable turnaround, giving hope to a host of last place teams the following summer. That could happen in Washington, but per the experts like King, don't expect it.
Disagree? Are the Redskins ranked too low? Too high? Too much pressure put on Griffin? Let us know what you think in the comments.