2014 NFL Preview: Washington

Coming up next in our 32 in 32 preview series we have the football team from Washington? Amidst chaos surrounding their name and controversy surrounding their QB position, can this team make a return appearance to the NFC playoffs?

(Washington Post)

(Editor’s Note: We have chosen to refrain from using Washington’s team name during this article)

Last year, the [racist name] took a colossal step back in their quest for another Super Bowl. After winning the NFC East two seasons ago, the [team that Dan Snyder owns] reverted to their worst season in recent memory, going 3-13. A lot of factors went into last seasons meltdown. For starters, quarterback Robert Griffin III was coming off a horrific leg injury suffered in his rookie year. Coach Mike Shanahan lost the room, and eventually his job, and a slew of other issues plagued the Redskins last season. Are they a team to rebound? There is a chance that could happen.

OFFENSE:

How much did the [team with a racist owner] improve this year? Well, for starters, they got themselves a new threat with DeSean Jackson. When the Eagles cut Jackson for reasons some have called into question, the [team that a referee refused to officiate] went right out and signed the enigmatic receiver. Some say it may be a challenge to reign in the sometimes hard-to-coach receiver, but this writer thinks otherwise. Coming from a division rival, Jackson has the ability to help out the [team with a derogatory name] by letting them know all of the Eagles tendencies. He is an inside man who knows how they run their game. On the surface, though, Jackson is still a very good deep ball threat. Lining up with Jackson and Pierre Garcon on both sides will give Washington a slew of new options on where to put the ball. Not to mention that Alfred Morris is looking to rebound (Editor’s Note: People seem to be forgetting that Alfred Morris was the fourth leading rusher in the league last year as he ran for 1,275 yards with 7 touchdowns???) just as RGIII plans on doing.

The Washington offense is a bit of a wild card. With all of the potential they have, it can make for a very interesting year. If they can get everyone to click at the same time, they could very well turn some heads.

DEFENSE:

It’s no secret that the defense for the [team that, seriously, in 2014, still has a racist name] struggled mightily. This year, people expected to see more of the same, now that NFL mainstay London Fletcher has retired. It seems as though for this year, it will be more of Brian Orakpo and DeAngelo Hall holding it down for Washington unless somebody can step up.

Throughout the defense, there is not a single rookie on the starting line. There is a solid mix of proven veterans, and second and third year players throughout. The Washington defense has a bit to prove to each other that they can get the job done, because there were a few games last season where the [derogatory term for a Native Americans] lost within one score. For their sake, newer players like David Amerson will hopefully be able to learn from veterans like fellow corner DeAngelo Hall. Or Keenan Robinson learning from Brian Orakpo. It all comes down to who shows up for this defense, because they need help for the players who have been keeping the defense from going into disarray.

SPECIAL TEAMS:

As of right now, Andre Roberts is listed as the teams kick and punt returner. However, the addition of DeSean Jackson adds a bit in this category. His explosive speed has already proven that he can run back kicks. Trust me, I’m a Giants fan. Don’t force me to remind you people of what he’s capable of.

Kai Forbath will be back once again to kick for the Washington. Last season he was 17-18 on field goals, his longest being from 50 yards. And finally, Robert Malone will be punting.

COACHING:

Coming in to take over for Make Shanahan at head coach is the brother of Monday Night Football broadcaster Jon Gruden and was the former Cincinnati Bengals offensive coordinator, Jay Gruden. The Grudens have a long history with coaching in the NFL, as Jon proved by taking the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to a championship. Jay Gruden was the offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals for a few years, and before that, had a good stint in the Arena Football League. While he is still relatively unproven in the NFL, a fresh, young coach could be what the new look Washington need. Gone are the old fashioned days of Shanahan. This move to hire Gruden shows that this team is ready to turn a new page in their history, and they hope that history starts this season.

X-FACTOR: Robert Griffin III

RGIII is the de facto X-Factor for the Washington now, and for a while. And for what the Redskins gave up to get him (look up who the Rams got with all those picks Washington gave them, it’s not pretty) he is going to be their X-Factor for a long, long time. We saw how well he manages to play when he is healthy, and the entire team is on the same page. Now that he has some new weapons, and the play does not rely on him having to scramble around as much anymore, he has options. And when you have options, you have people around to take the pressure off of you. While RGIII still has a ways to go to prove he is among the elite of the NFL, he can get back on the right track by picking up where he left off his rookie year, before the leg injury.

PREDICTION: 7-9, 3rd in the NFC East

I believe that the [team whose name Dan Snyder refuses to change] have the potential to be better than last year, but that is not saying much. After a 3-13 season, you would hope a team can pull it together. But at the end of the day, I see them no better than an 8-8 team, and that is if everything goes right for the team, which I would be willing to put money on that everything won’t. Realistically, I see them splitting every series within the NFC East, if they are lucky. A few easy wins over the Jags and Titans, but that is pretty the only thing close to sure-fire on Washington’s schedule.

- Frank Dapolito

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