2015 NFL Offseason: Washington Redskins

Washington Redskins (Last Year: 4-12)

2015 NFL Season Preview:

Veteran Additions:
DE/DT Stephen Paea, DE/DT Ricky Jean-Francois, NT Terrance Knighton, CB Chris Culliver, S Dashon Goldson, S Jeron Johnson.
Early Draft Picks:
G/OT Brandon Scherff, DE/OLB Preston Smith, RB Matt Jones, WR Jamison Crowder, G Arie Kouandjio, LB Martrell Spaight. Redskins Rookie Forecast
Offseason Losses:
RB Roy Helu, WR Leonard Hankerson, OT Tyler Polumbus, G Chris Chester, DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT Stephen Bowen, NT Barry Cofield, DE/OLB Brian Orakpo, CB E.J. Biggers, S Brandon Meriweather, S Ryan Clark.

2015 Washington Redskins Offense:
It’s safe to say that Washington’s plans for Robert Griffin haven’t exactly panned out. The team relinquished a treasure trove of picks just to move up for him in the 2012 NFL Draft, but after one playoff appearance, they haven’t gotten anything out of the bold move. They are a combined 7-25 in the past two seasons, while Griffin has been an abomination since his rookie campaign. He has been responsible for more turnovers (26) than touchdowns (21) over the previous two years, and he was ultimately benched in favor of Kirk Cousins in 2014.

Talent has nothing to do with Griffin’s demise. The mental part of his game has been the culprit, mostly because Griffin refuses to put in the work in terms of studying tape. He has been a Prima donna, and it hasn’t helped that Daniel Snyder foolishly hired Jay Gruden, who had no head-coaching experience in the NFL, so he wasn’t exactly equipped to deal with a player who ran a two-time Super Bowl champion coach out of town. Griffin and Gruden predictably have clashed, and it was a forgone conclusion that one of them wouldn’t be back in 2015. Yet, the Snyder inexplicably decided to have them both return. That decision doesn’t make sense on so many levels, including the fact that Griffin is a very poor fit in Gruden’s offense, so even if Gruden did have experience as a head coach, bringing him in still wouldn’t have made sense.

In all fairness, it needs to be noted that Griffin hasn’t had much help from his supporting cast. His offensive line has been a disaster, which would explain why the Redskins spent the No. 5 overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on some help there. Brandon Scherff, the consensus top blocker in the class, was chosen at that spot. However, Scherff is a natural guard, yet Washington is asking him to play right tackle across from stud blocker Trent Williams. Scherff would be excellent on the interior, but his ability to play outside is very questionable because of his short arms. He could struggle at his new post before being asked to move to guard.

As for the interior of the offensive line, it isn’t in terrible shape. Left guard Shawn Lauvao and center Kory Lichtensteiger aren’t great, but they were both adequate this past season. The lone position of concern is right guard, which will be manned by 2014 third-rounder Spencer Long in the wake of Chris Chester’s departure. Long has some promise, but he barely saw the field in 2014, so he’s a big question mark.

Meanwhile, there are some issues with Griffin’s skill-position players as well. Most recently, Jordan Reed underwent a knee procedure. Reed is a very talented, athletic tight end, but he hasn’t been able to stay healthy. Having him on the field would’ve been a big boost for 2015, but it doesn’t appear as though he’ll be able to stay healthy. Niles Paul is a fine replacement, but he just doesn’t have the upside that Reed possesses.

There are also injury-related concerns in the receiving corps, as DeSean Jackson hasn’t been the most durable player throughout his career. He was mostly healthy in 2014, missing just one contest, but Washington won’t be able to rely on him staying 100 percent. That wouldn’t be a possibly terrible situation if Pierre Garcon still happened to be productive, but Garcon, like Griffin, hasn’t taken to Gruden’s system.

Even the running back corps has its issues. Alfred Morris is still in place to be the primary runner on the first two downs, but Roy Helu will no longer be around because he signed with the Raiders. Helu was very value as a third-down player, so Griffin will undoubtedly miss having him in the backfield. The Redskins used a third-round pick on Matt Jones to help fill this void, but it’s unknown if Jones will be able to properly replace the underrated Helu.

2015 Washington Redskins Defense:
As bad as the offense was in 2014, it wasn’t even Washington’s primary problem. That would be the defense, with the secondary being especially brutal in particular. The Redskins’ stop unit surrendered 27.4 points per game, as the defensive backfield constantly allowed big play after big play.

The Redskins made some moves to improve this area, but they definitely didn’t do nearly enough. In fact, some of their transactions are doomed to fail. For example, they traded for Dashon Goldson, which will prove to be a huge mistake. The Redskins didn’t give up much for Goldson, but he’s a horrible player to have in the locker room because of his lackadaisical attitude. If things begin to go south – and they will – Goldson will poison the team. He also won’t play well on the field; he struggled mightily for the Buccaneers. It’s unclear who will start next to Goldson at this time, but there aren’t any promising candidates. Possible options include Duke Ihenacho, Jeron Johnson, Trenton Robinson and sixth-round rookie Kyshoen Jarrett.

A better transaction was when the Redskins paid Chris Culliver $32 million over four years. The former 49er missed all of 2013 with an ACL tear, but managed to play well this past season, surrendering a 50.7 completion percentage to opposing receivers. He’ll be the No. 1 corner, but it’s unclear who the starter across from him will be. DeAngelo Hall would be the favorite if he weren’t coming off a torn Achilles, so that would leave Bashaud Breeland, who was inconsistent last year. However, Breeland was just a fourth-round rookie, so he figures to improve.

Of course, the biggest player Washington brought in (literally) was Terrance Knighton, formerly of the Broncos. Knighton generated scant interest on the market despite his strong play because of weight concerns. The Redskins gave Knighton a 1-year “prove it” contract, so they should be getting his best effort if he wants to get paid what his talent is worth next offseason. As long as Knighton doesn’t slack off, he’ll be a monstrous upgrade at nose tackle next to Jason Hatcher, who was terrific this past season. The other starter up front is also new, as Stephen Paea, formerly of the Bears, was signed to a 4-year, $21 million contract. Paea is coming off a career year, but he’s a very questionable fit in the 3-4. He might be abused in run support.

Speaking of struggling to defend the rush, that was exactly Keenan Robinson’s issue last year. Robinson struggled while starting next to Perry Riley at inside linebacker, but the Redskins didn’t do anything to remedy this situation, save for spending a fifth-round selection on Martrell Spaight.

The Redskins used a much earlier pick on an outside linebacker, as Preston Smith was obtained in the second frame. Smith was brought in to serve as a potential replacement for Brian Orakpo, who signed with the Titans this offseason. Orakpo’s not a big loss, as he had barely played in two of the past three seasons because of injuries, but a pass-rushing upgrade was still needed across from Ryan Kerrigan, who notched 13.5 sacks in 2014. Trent Murphy, a 2014 second-rounder, started last year and did fine in run support, but didn’t put much heat on opposing passers. It remains to be seen if Smith can thrive in that regard, but it certainly appears as though he has the skill set.

2015 Washington Redskins Schedule and Intangibles:
The Redskins have an awesome fan base, which makes it strange that they are just 17-32 as hosts the past six years. They were just 5-4 in 2012 when they were competitive, compared to 5-3 on the road.

Jay Gruden failed to fix Washington’s woeful special teams. The squad was outgained on both punt and kickoff returns, and it surrendered two touchdowns to the opposition while scoring none itself.

The Redskins at least had a punter who was decent at his job. Tress Way ranked 10th in net yardage.

Kicker Kai Forbath also did a good job. He converted on 24-of-27 of his tries, though he didn’t connect on a 50-yarder, failing at his only attempt.

Excluding the Cowboys, Washington will battle just two teams (Patriots, Panthers) who qualified for the playoffs last year, so they don’t have a difficult schedule.

2015 Washington Redskins Rookies:
Go here for the Redskins Rookie Forecast, a page with predictions like which rookie will bust and which rookie will become a solid starter.

2015 Washington Redskins Positional Rankings (1-5 stars):
Offensive Line
Running Backs
Defensive Line
Special Teams

2015 Washington Redskins Analysis: The Redskins wouldn’t be half-bad if they had a decent quarterback who cared about improving his game. Robert Griffin, however, has been more concerned about posting on Twitter and getting the upper hand over his coaches. This is a situation that should have been remedied this past offseason, but Daniel Snyder, as usual, screwed things up. Considering that situation, as well as injuries to the offense and incompetence in the secondary, there’s a chance the Redskins will completely bottom out and own the worst record in the NFL this season.

Projection: 3-13 (4th in NFC East)

NFL Draft Team Grade: C Grade

Goals Entering the 2015 NFL Draft: Washington’s priority is addressing its horrid secondary. Multiple upgrades are needed there. Beyond that, the team needs to bolster the offensive line and receiving corps, and also add some depth to the thin front seven.

2015 NFL Draft Accomplishments: So much for addressing the horrid secondary. The Redskins didn’t even touch its beleaguered defensive backfield until the 181st pick in the draft, when they reached for someone named Kyshoen Jarrett. I have no idea how the defense is going to contain any competent aerial attack this upcoming season.

The Redskins made some nice picks, but were guilty of lots of reaches. It began early at No. 5 overall. Brandon Scherff was a fantastic guard prospect, but players at that position should not be selected in the top five, especially when talents like Leonard Williams and Vic Beasley are available. Scherff may play right tackle, but that’s not the best fit for him. Meanwhile, the reach of Matt Jones at the bottom of the third frame was even more egregious. If Washington wanted a third-down back, it could have waited a few rounds. Why not select a cornerback or safety at that juncture?

I liked two of Washington’s picks. Preston Smith was a solid choice at No. 37, as he’ll challenge Trent Murphy for the starting job across from Ryan Kerrigan. The other was Arie Kouandjio, who was a solid bargain in the fourth frame. He could start at guard on Day 1. However, these two picks weren’t enough to save the Redskins’ pedestrian draft haul.

NFL Draft Individual Grades:

5. Brandon Scherff, G/OT, Iowa: C Grade
Wow… with Leonard Williams available? I know Williams was slightly overrated by the media, but he should be the fifth-overall pick. Not a guard. I like Brandon Scherff a lot, and I think he’ll be a solid player for the Redskins, but guards just don’t have the same impact as a dominant defensive lineman. I’m not going to give the Redskins a “Millen,” or anything, because they had to upgrade Robert Griffin’s pass protection. However, spending the fifth-overall selection on a guard just doesn’t seem like a smart idea. If anything, Washington should’ve moved down a couple of spots and snagged Scherff at No. 7 or 8.

Follow @walterfootball for updates.

38. Preston Smith, DE/OLB, Mississippi State: B+ Grade
The Redskins lost Brian Orakpo this offseason, so it’s not a big surprise that they added an edge rusher early in the 2015 NFL Draft. They selected Trent Murphy last year, but Murphy, Ryan Kerrigan and now Preston Smith can form a stout rotation. Smith was pretty underrated throughout this entire process. He’s an athletic edge rusher whom I thought had a chance of sneaking into the first round.

95. Matt Jones, RB, Florida: D Grade
The Redskins needed a third-down running back in the wake of Roy Helu’s departure. Matt Jones could fill that role, but the problem with this selection is twofold: First, it’s unwise to select “just” a third-down back this early; there were better running backs available. Second, Jones is a reach. He would’ve made sense in the sixth round, but not here.

105. Jamison Crowder, WR, Duke: B- Grade
No surprise that the Redskins chose a receiver; Pierre Garcon didn’t fit well into Jay Gruden’s offense, so the front office had to address the position. This is slightly early for Jamison Crowder, but I’m not going to argue the pick too much.

112. Arie Kouandjio, G, Alabama: A- Grade
And here’s the other guard who was “expected” to go undrafted because of a bogus medical report. Arie Kouandjio did drop a bit – some teams viewed him as the third-best guard in the class – so I like this pick for the Redskins from a value perspective. Kouandjio also obviously fills a need.

141. Martrell Spaight, LB, Arkansas: B Grade
The Redskins know they have issues in the secondary, right? I’m concerned for them that they haven’t addressed either position there yet, but Martrell Spaight is a solid choice. He could have gone in the fourth. He’ll contribute on special teams to begin his career and will eventually fight for playing time on defense.

181. Kyshoen Jarrett, S, Virginia Tech: C Grade
The Redskins finally addressed their secondary, but they added a player who struggles to cover. Figures. Kyshoen Jarrett is a quality tackler and should be able to thrive on special teams, but he’ll be a liability against the pass.

182. Tevin Mitchel, CB, Arkansas: C- Grade
Tevin Mitchel’s upside is becoming a nickel corner for the Redskins, but I’m not sure if he’ll make the final roster. I didn’t have him as a draftable prospect.

187. Evan Spencer, WR, Ohio State: C- Grade
I didn’t think Evan Spencer was a draftable player. He didn’t produce much at Ohio State, so he looked like a clear UDFA. He was not in my top 400, so I don’t like this pick.

222. Austin Reiter, C, South Florida: C+ Grade
I didn’t have Austin Reiter as a drafted prospect, but he was on the cusp. He’s an athletic lineman who will have a chance to make Washington’s final roster.

Season Summary:
Year 3 of the Robert Griffin era proved to be just as disastrous as the previous season. There was once again friction between the coach and the quarterback, leading many to believe that at least one of them would be hitting the road this offseason. Shockingly, both will be back in 2015, proving once again that Daniel Snyder and those working for him are clearly in over their heads.

Offseason Moves:
  • Falcons sign G Chris Chester
  • Falcons sign OT Tyler Polumbus
  • Redskins re-sign K Kai Forbath
  • Eagles sign CB E.J. Biggers
  • Redskins acquire S Dashon Goldson, 2016 7th-rounder from Buccaneers for 2016 6th-rounder
  • Jets sign DE/DT Stephen Bowen
  • Bears sign DE/DT Jarvis Jenkins
  • Redskins re-sign QB Colt McCoy
  • Redskins sign S Jeron Johnson
  • Titans sign DE/OLB Brian Orakpo
  • Redskins sign CB Chris Culliver
  • Redskins sign NT Terrance Knighton
  • Falcons sign WR Leonard Hankerson
  • Redskins sign DE/DT Stephen Paea
  • Redskins re-sign S Trenton Robinson
  • Raiders sign RB Roy Helu
  • Redskins re-sign TE Niles Paul
  • Redskins cut NT Barry Cofield
  • Redskins cut DE/DT Stephen Bowen
  • Redskins re-sign OT Tom Compton
  • Redskins sign DE/DT Ricky Jean-Francois
  • Redskins announce retirement of S Ryan Clark

    Team Needs:
    1. Two Safeties: Washington was atrocious against the pass all season, blowing many coverages throughout the year. The team needs to improve on the back end, as Ryan Clark and impending free agent Brandon Meriweather were both putrid. This situation is so dire that the Redskins might even consider slightly reaching for Landon Collins with the fifth-overall choice. Traded for Dashon Goldson; signed Jeron Johnson

    2. Two Cornerbacks: DeAngelo Hall tore his Achilles last season and then re-tore it while at home about a month later. There’s no guarantee he’ll be back for 2015, and the Redskins needed to add two cornerbacks anyway. They’ll probably have to add one in free agency because there aren’t any corners worth taking at No. 5 overall. Signed Chris Culliver

    3. Right Tackle: The right tackle position was a mess for the Redskins this past season, as all the options they tried there failed miserably. They could use the fifth-overall pick to fix that issue.

    4. Nose Tackle: The Redskins have no nose tackle in the wake of releasing Barry Cofield. A replacement might be drafted early in Danny Shelton. Signed Terrance Knighton

    5. Defensive End: Jason Hatcher was exceptional for the Redskins in his first year with the team, but the other starting end, Jarvis Jenkins, wasn’t nearly as effective. He’s an impending free agent, but he needed to be upgraded anyway. Signed Stephen Paea and Ricky Jean-Francois

    6. Quarterback: Who would’ve thought that a quarterback would be on the needs list two years after Robert Griffin’s terrific rookie campaign? Griffin has transformed into a douchey prima donna and needs a coach who not only will kick his butt, but will also have an offense in place to fit Griffin’s skill set. Jay Gruden is incapable of doing either.

    7. Inside Linebacker: The Redskins can do better than the duo of Perry Riley and Keenan Robinson. The latter wasn’t bad, but Riley was a major liability in coverage.

    8. Rush Linebacker: Brian Orakpo is an impending free agent, so the Redskins will use Ryan Kerrigan and 2014 second-rounder Trent Murphy as the starters this upcoming season. Washington will have to add some players behind them.

    9. Interior Offensive Line Depth: Some depth up front wouldn’t hurt. Chris Chester should probably be upgraded, but Washington used a third-round pick on Spencer Long, so perhaps he can step in soon.

    10. Kicker: Kai Forbath is an impending free agent, but the Redskins could use a better kicker anyway. Re-signed Kai Forbath

      Follow me @walterfootball for updates.

    2015 NFL Free Agent Signings:
    1. Terrance Knighton, NT, Broncos. Age: 29.
      Signed with Redskins (1 year, $4 million)

      Terrance “Pot Roast” Knighton is one of the top run-stuffers in the NFL. Unlike most nose tackles, however, Knighton can put a decent amount of pressure on the quarterback; including the playoffs, he had five sacks in 2013, which is a big number for a 330-pounder.

    2. Chris Culliver, CB, 49ers. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins (4 years, $32 million)

      Chris Culliver missed all of 2013 with an ACL tear, but managed to play well this past season, surrendering a 50.7 completion percentage to opposing receivers.

    3. Stephen Paea, DT, Bears. Age: 27.
      Signed with Redskins (4 years, $21 million)

      Stephen Paea is a major liability in run support, but he’s excellent in terms of generating an interior pass rush.

    4. Ricky Jean-Francois, DE/DT, Colts. Age: 28.
      Signed with Redskins (3 years, $9 million)

      Ricky Jean-Francois can be used as a starter, though he’s a below-average one. He doesn’t do anything particularly well, but he doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses.

    5. Jeron Johnson, S, Seahawks. Age: 27. — Signed with Redskins (2 years, $4 million)

    Washington Redskins Free Agents:

    Salary Cap: TBA.
    1. Brian Orakpo, DE/OLB, Redskins. Age: 28.
      Signed with Titans (4 years, $32 million)

      Brian Orakpo is one of the most talented pass-rushers in the NFL. The problem is that he’s injury-prone, having missed 24 games over the past three seasons. He tore his pectoral in October.

    2. Barry Cofield, NT, Redskins. Age: 31.
      The Redskins cut Barry Cofield for cap reasons – the move saved them $4 million – but he can still play. Cofield missed most of 2014 with an ankle sprain and didn’t look healthy when he returned to the lineup. However, he played well in 2013, and give that he’s just 31 (in March), he’ll generate some interest as a starter, especially considering how versatile he is.

    3. Roy Helu, RB, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Signed with Raiders (2 years)

      Roy Helu is a good pass-catching back. He’s an adequate No. 2 runner otherwise.

    4. Niles Paul, TE, Redskins. Age: 26.
      Re-signed with Redskins (3 years)

      Niles Paul had a couple of solid performances when filling in for a Jordan Reed. He’s not a good blocker, however.

    5. Jarvis Jenkins, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 27. — Signed with Bears
    6. Brandon Meriweather, S, Redskins. Age: 31.
    7. E.J. Biggers, CB, Redskins. Age: 28. — Signed with Eagles
    8. Tyler Polumbus, OT, Redskins. Age: 30. — Signed with Falcons
    9. Stephen Bowen, DE/DT, Redskins. Age: 31. — Signed with Jets
    10. Colt McCoy, QB, Redskins. Age: 28. — Re-signed with Redskins (1 year)
    11. Kai Forbath, K, Redskins. Age: 27. — Re-signed with Redskins
    12. Trenton Robinson (RFA), S, Redskins. Age: 25. — Re-signed with Redskins
    13. Tom Compton (RFA), OT, Redskins. Age: 26. — Re-signed with Redskins
    14. Ryan Clark, S, Redskins. Age: 35. — Announced retirement
    15. Duke Ihenacho (RFA), S, Redskins. Age: 26.
    16. Chris Neild, NT, Redskins. Age: 27.
    17. Leonard Hankerson, WR, Redskins. Age: 26. — Signed with Falcons (1 year)
    18. Santana Moss, WR, Redskins. Age: 36.
    19. Rishaw Johnson, G, Redskins. Age: 26.
    20. Tanard Jackson, S, Redskins. Age: 30.


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