After last season's disastrous 3-13 season Washington will be desperate to improve in 2014. They have certainly gambled big on being able to do so. Mike Shanahan was fired
and replaced with Jay Gruden whilst in free agency Washington made the biggest splash of the offseason bringing in explosive wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Will all this make any difference though?
Key Man : RGIII
Coming back off the disaster that was his 2013 RGIII will be looking to prove to everyone that he has the physical fitness and the mental maturity that will allow him to succeed in the NFL. Well, Washington fans better hope this because the team really has went all in on their QB.
To start with there was the 2012 trade with the Rams for RGIII that deprived Washington of a first round pick in this year's draft. Then there is the fact that a big factor in Mike Shanahan's departure was the breakdown of his relationship with Griffin. Lastly, there is the free agency signing of DeSean Jackson. This will give RGIII some of the best weapons on offense in the NFL but it also introduces another tricky character into the locker room.
Can RGIII produce a bounceback season then? He has the talent and he has the supporting cast to do so. If RGIII performs like he did in his rookie season then Washington could be a surprise package and a team to beat in the playoffs. He is that important. It's a big if though.
Biggest Strength : Passing game
RGIII has the arm strength and accuracy to make every throw in the playbook. This season he also has some of the best in the NFL at his disposal. Even when Washington were struggling last season wide receiver Pierre Garcon still enjoyed a blockbuster season notching up 113 catches for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns.
The problem for Washington though was the lack of a number two receiver. They desperately needed someone who presented enough of a threat to stop teams from putting Garcon in double coverage. Looking down at the roster though this problem seems to have been solved. The explosive DeSean Jackson should stretch defenses vertically whilst Andre Roberts should be an excellent possession receiver that helps Washington to move the chains.
Add tight end Jordan Reed into the mix also and scoring points shouldn't be a problem in 2014.
Biggest Weaknesses : Defensive Secondary
Washington's secondary looks pedestrian at best. The signings of defensive backs Ryan Clark and Tracy Porter aren't great to put it mildly. Porter was poor last season at the
Raiders. Clark meanwhile is turning 35 this season and seems to have lost half a step of pace.
A potentially decent pass rush should disguise this weakness somewhat but the secondary looks like a weakness that other teams will target.
Matchups against the AFC South offer theoretically promising matchups for RGII & co whilst games against the NFC West look much less favourable. Overall the schedule
is neither the easiest or the hardest.
The most plausible best case scenario for Washington would be to sweep the AFC South and pick up wins against the Rams and Cardinals in the NFC West. Were this to happen then week 4,8, 15 and 17 matchups against the Giants and Cowboys along with wins against the Buccaneers in week 11 and Vikings in week 9 could offer a path to the compete for the division title. I don't see this happening though.
Predictions : 4-10
It's a toss up between Washington and the Cowboys for will finish bottom of the NFC East. Right now though Washington look like the most likely candidates. It will be a tough first year for new coach Jay Gruden.