2020 NFL Team Previews: Washington Redskins

2020 NFL Team Previews

By Professor MJ

Washington Redskins



1. Introduction

Prior to the 2019 season, the Redskins were projected to be among the league’s worst teams. They matched expectations with a poor 3-13 record.

Since 2009, the team has compiled an awful 66-109-1 record, which equates to a 37.8% winning percentage. The franchise has won just three division titles over the past 28 years.

Can they turn things around this year? Let’s evaluate their 2020 outlook.

2. Offensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

2.1 Quarterbacks (QBs)

Dwayne Haskins is the favorite to land the starting job. His first-round status along with improved play down the stretch are two arguments favoring him.

Haskins looked awful in his first few games as a pro. However, the game seemed to slow down for him and he raised his game as the season went on.

After throwing 0 TD pass and 4 interceptions in his first two outings, he finished the year with 7 TDs versus 3 picks. His last two performances were particularly impressive: 31-for-43 (72.1%) for 394 passing yards, and a 4:0 TD:INT mark. There might be some light at the end of the tunnel.

The Redskins let Case Keenum and Colt McCoy go via free agency. To me, McCoy was hopeless. However, I’ve always felt like Keenum is underappreciated. He has 75 career TD passes and 47 interceptions. Last year, racking up 11 TDs versus 5 picks with such a poor surrounding cast wasn’t bad at all. He signed with the Browns during the offseason.

The new backup QB is Kyle Allen, who played 13 games with the Panthers last year. He did the exact opposite of Haskins: he got off to a strong start, and then fell flat on his face.

Through his first four games, Allen was a true revelation: 80-for-122 (a 65.5% completion rate) with 7 TD passes and no interception. During the rest of the season, he posted an embarrassing 10:16 TD:INT mark. The seven lost fumbles didn’t help matters either.

Allen was also pretty bad at avoiding pressure. He ended up taking 46 sacks. That’s one more aspect of the game where Haskins is better than him.

2.2 Running Backs (RBs)

Averaging 4.3 yards-per-carry at 34 years old on a bad offense is an unbelievable feat. That’s exactly what Adrian Peterson did last year. Hats off to him for such a nice performance!

The current fifth-leading rusher of all-time has decided to come back for another year. As much as I want him to succeed, I don’t expect him to come nearly as close to the 898 rushing yards he obtained last year.

Derrius Guice was picked in the second round of the 2018 draft, but he missed his entire rookie season after tearing his ACL in a preseason game. Then, he injured his knee in his first NFL game and ended up missing the next eight meetings.

Guice finally displayed nice abilities when he came back on the field. He averaged 5.8 yards per rush. He suffered another injury in his fourth game back before being placed on injured reserve.

Was it just a flash in the pan, or does Guice really have a nice potential? Can he finally stay healthy? Hopefully, we’ll have answers by the end of the 2020 season.

Considering Peterson’s age and Guice’s injury history, the Skins signed Peyton Barber as an insurance policy. Let’s make it clear: Barber isn’t very good. His yards-per-carry average has dropped in each of his four seasons, reaching a career-low 3.1 last year with the Bucs.

With Chris Thompson off the team, the new third-down back is J.D. McKissic. He’s a nice weapon to have in your arsenal.

2.3 Wide Receivers (WRs)

Third-round rookie Terry McLaurin was one of the few bright spots on offense last year. You have to wonder how he would have done in a more potent offense.

Despite subpar QB play all season long, McLaurin came close from clearing the 1,000 receiving-yard mark. He caught 58 passes, seven of which went into the end zone.

He did win quite a few one-on-one battles against some top cornerbacks, while fully taking advantage of weaker secondaries. His future looks bright.

The talent level drops off significantly after McLaurin. Sixth-round rookie Kelvin Harmon wasn’t all that impressive. He played all 16 games, but only caught 30 balls and failed to reach the end zone.

Undrafted rookie Steven Sims showed more potential. The speedy rookie was inserted into a starting role late last year, and he responded with 20 catches and 4 TDs in just four games. He has a good shot to become the team’s slot receiver.

Paul Richardson was a failed experiment in his two years with the Redskins; the organization decided to cut ties with him.

In order to boost the receiving corps a little bit, they signed Cody Latimer. Don’t expect huge things from him, though. Indeed, he’s a perennial backup who has never caught more than 24 passes in a year.

Can Trey Quinn have an impact? He got hurt twice in his rookie season; he played just three games that year. In 2019, he caught 26 passes in 12 games, which was quite disappointing after showing some quickness in limited time as a rookie.

I’m excited to see what rookie Antonio Gibson can do in the NFL. The Skins took him early in the 3rd round, even though he’s one of the toughest prospects to project. He is the definition of a boom-or-bust player.

He was clearly underutilized at Memphis because he posted mind-boggling numbers:

  • 7 plays that went 50+ yards;
  • An average of 15.6 yards per touch;
  • 16 broken tackles on 33 carries;
  • 17 broken tackles on 38 receptions;
  • An average of 28.0 yards on kickoff returns

It’s not clear whether Gibson is a RB or a WR. The sample size is extremely limited as he only touched the ball 77 times in college. We’ll see how he does at the pro level.

2.4 Tight Ends (TEs)

The team has a glaring hole at this position.

Vernon Davis announced his retirement after 14 great seasons. He suffered a concussion during last season’s fourth game and never came back.

Jordan Reed seemed on track to have an exceptional career, but injuries have completely wrecked it. He had his 7th concussion and it cost him the whole 2019 season. The team released him last February.

So who gets the starting nod? Jeremy Sprinkle has the inside track on the job, even though he doesn’t seem like a long-term solution.

Sprinkle caught just seven passes over his first two years in the NFL. He took over as the starter once Davis and Reed landed on injured reserve, but he still didn’t do much. Catching 26 passes won’t blow anyone’s mind and he never exceeded 36 receiving yards in any game. He also reached the end zone just once all season long.

The team will also give a chance to free agent acquisition Logan Thomas. He’s an ex-QB who converted to the tight end position in 2016. He’s pretty athletic, but has never been able to establish himself as a viable option.

2.5 Offensive Line (OL)

At center the team relies on Chase Roullier. A former sixth-round pick from the 2017 draft, he has done a decent job at the pivot. He is an average player with limited upside.

Ereck Flowers has been a bust as a former #9 overall selection. He performed at slightly above-average levels during his first five seasons. His asking price was too high for Washington’s taste, so he left to Miami.

Who will take over as starting LG with Flowers gone? The competition should be between Wes Martin and Wes Schweitzer. I believe Schweitzer will ultimately win the battle.

Martin graded fairly poorly last year as a rookie. Meanwhile, Schweitzer comes in with three years of experience, while receiving average grades from PFF.

The team is in good hands at right guard with Brandon Scherff. He’s been consistently good in all of his five seasons as a pro since being taken #5 overall out of Iowa.

With Trent Williams holding out the entire 2019 season, the Skins turned to Donald Penn to fulfill the job. He finished as the 49th-best tackle in the league according to the PFF rating system. He once was a great player; he played at a high level for 11 seasons, but his last two have been more difficult. Now aged 37 year old, you have to be concerned about what he can bring to the table in 2020.

Early fourth-round pick Saahdiq Charles will compete Penn for the job. There are big red flags about him, though: he has failed many drug tests and has had erratic behavior. He is also a work in progress on the field.

Morgan Moses takes the right tackle position and he received similar grades as Penn last season. In other words, he did “okay”, but nothing more. That’s how his past three years have gone.

The Cornelius Lucas signing is intriguing. The former Bear had started just eight games in his first five seasons, but he started eight more in 2019. After signing a two-year, $5.3 million contract, the money suggests he will be a backup.

2020 VS 2019 OFFENSE

It’s no secret that Washington’s offense was awful last year. The scored the fewest points in the league. It will be difficult to do worse. How much of an improvement can we expect?

The QB play is likely to improve. I didn’t like what I saw from Haskins early on, but he made big leaps down the stretch. I believe there is reason to be optimistic. He is unlikely to light up the scoreboard, but perhaps he can show good promise.

At running back, Adrian Peterson is unlikely to play at the same level as last year. In my opinion, Derrius Guice is a darkhorse candidate to break out in 2020. Along with McKissic as a good third-down back, Washington’s backfield may not be too bad after all.

There’s still a glaring hole at the #2 WR position. McLaurin is the clear-cut number one option, but he would benefit from someone else drawing some attention away from him. Adding Cody Latimer is not the solution. I have more hopes with second-year pro Steven Sims or super-exciting rookie Antonio Gibson.

The tight end position will once again be a struggle. Jeremy Sprinkle and Logan Thomas are not viable alternatives.

The offensive line suffered a blow when the team couldn’t re-sign Ereck Flowers. Martin and Schweitzer both represent a downgrade compared to him. I’m also worried about having a 37-year old protecting Haskins’ blind side. That’s a risky gamble.

As mentioned above, it’s hard to anticipate a regression out of a group that finished dead last the previous year. The team didn’t make any key acquisitions in the free agent market, so the fate of the offense basically relies on Dwayne Haskins’ progression. Him, McLaurin and Guice may help the Skins’ offense score more points, but I only predict a small upgrade over 2019.

Final call (2020 vs 2019):

Big downgrade-Moderate downgrade-Small downgrade-Stable-Small upgrade-Moderate upgrade-Big upgrade

3. Defensive Position-by-Position Breakdown

3.1 Defensive Linemen (DLs)

Daron Payne was the 13th overall pick from the 2018 draft and he racked up five sacks in his rookie season. Things were looking up. However, he regressed to just two sacks last year. The former Crimson Tide is set up for a nice rebound year. He is very young and has the talent to do it.

Congratulations to Matt Ioannidis for such a steady progress throughout his young career. Expectations weren’t very high for a fifth-rounder who hadn’t log any sack in his rookie season. He rolled up his sleeves and picked up 4.5 and 7.5 sacks the next two years, before getting a career-high 8.5 last year. He is on the up and up.

Jonathan Allen has had a completely different journey in comparison to Ioannidis. The team had high hopes after taking him in round number one of the 2017 draft. His play fell off from year 2 to year 3; he went from eight to six sacks in that time frame, while also posting significantly weaker grades against the run. Overall, he finished at spot #81 out of 114 DLs.

3.2 Defensive Ends (DEs) / Edge Rushers (ED)

Montez Sweat’s draft stock dropped after some heart concerns were brought up; he slid to the 26th selection. The rookie posted seven sacks and a couple of forced fumbles. He is super athletic and is extremely fast.

Ryan Kerrigan probably doesn’t feel good about his 2019 season. After playing 139 consecutive games, he was injured a couple of times and he missed four games.

Also, he set a new career-low with 5.5 sacks. Prior to last year, he had averaged a jaw-dropping 10.6 sacks per season! Defending the run has never been his forte; it got even worse last year with an abysmal 55.0 grade from PFF in that category.

Kerrigan will be playing his age-32 campaign. With Sweat also drawing attention, he could regain his previous form.

Pass rusher was not necessarily one of Washington’s needs, but they still selected Chase Young with the #2 overall pick last April. He was just too good to pass up.

Young is a super freak and he’s very fast for a 6’6’’ guy. He recorded 10.5 sacks in 2018 before racking up 16.5 last year, a FBS-high. If you’re looking for a “can’t miss prospect”, this is as close as it gets. He is going to wreck opponents’ plays for years.

Ryan Anderson is not starter material. He fights hard, but has below-average athleticism. He has six sacks in three years and played half the defensive snaps last year.

3.3 Linebackers (LBs)

Jon Bostic is not a very good linebacker. He’s received below-average PFF marks in each of his six seasons, while playing for five different squads. That’s never a good sign.

The jury is still out regarding Cole Holcomb’s future. He received an almost identical PFF grade as Bostic last year, but let’s give him a second year to prove his worth. As a former fifth-round draft choice, I would’t get my hopes too high, though.

Thomas Davis has made more than 1,000 tackles in his NFL career. He will be reuniting with Ron Rivera, under which he thrived in Carolina. The problem is Davis turned 37 years old. Will he get a starting role or was he brought in Washington to be a reserve while also serving as a mentor? Time will tell, but as was the case with his teammates you can hardly expect a spectacular season from him.

Like Bostic, Kevin Pierre-Louis has been a journeyman. Washington represents his fifth destination in seven years. He’s a reserve player who has never played more than 273 snaps in a season.

In summary, this unit needs a lift in a big way.

3.4 Cornerbacks (CBs)

There are a couple of corners that left the team: Quinton Dunbar and Josh Norman. Dunbar finished as the 2nd-best CB in the league based on PFF rankings, as opposed to 110th for Norman. Quite a difference!

The team now has four guys at the position. Let’s review them one-by-one.

The Redskins signed Ronald Darby, formerly of the Eagles. I like this signing.

When on the field, he has been pretty effective, except last year. During his first four seasons, he earned PFF grades varying between 68.3 and 78.3 (which is well above-average, by the way) before plummeting to a meager 44.8 last year.

Darby clearly has the talent to rebound. His big problem recently has been injuries: he has played 28-of-48 games since 2017.

Washington also acquired Kendall Fuller. Don’t sleep on him. He has provided solid play in the last three years.

Fabian Moreau has had pretty bad marks in each of his three seasons in the league. His time in the NFL might end sooner than later.

Seventh-round rookie Jimmy Moreland ended up playing many snaps from the slot. A banged up secondary forced him into action more often than expected. He responded with below-average play, albeit not dreadful either.

3.5 Safeties (S)

What the heck is happening with Landon Collins? He was a promising prospect coming out of college with the Crimson Tide. He had a rocky rookie season, but rebounded with two awesome seasons, in which he picked off seven passes and recorded four sacks.

In the last two years: 0 interception, 1 sack. His PFF grades nosedived as well. Overall, he finished as the 41st-best safety out of 87 qualifiers. You would expect more out of him.

The other starting safety last year was Montae Nicholson. He was terrible in 2018. He was terrible in 2019. Unsurprisingly, he was waived last March.

The favorite to start opposite Collins is Sean Davis, who signed as a free agent after spending four years with the Steelers. A shoulder injury wiped out his 2019 season. He was a starter the previous three years, but he did not fare very well.

2020 VS 2019 DEFENSE

Is the Redskins defense likely to improve in comparison to last year?

No changes were made at DL and at edge via free agency, but the team picked Chase Young with the second overall selection of this year’s draft. Payne and Sweat have a good shot to elevate their game. As for Ioannidis and Kerrigan, they are likely to provide good play once again.

Things look more bleak at linebacker. To me, there’s close to a zero chance of a breakout season from either Bostic, Holcomb, Davis or Pierre-Louis.

The corner position was revamped; Dunbar and Norman are out, while Darby and Fuller are in. It’s hard to tell whether that’s a net gain or loss. It feels like a wash overall.

At safety, I have to admit that Landon Collins could regain his 2016 & 2017 form. Replacing Nicholson with Sean Davis is a bit of an upgrade.

Last year, Washington allowed the sixth-highest number of points to their opponents. I am anticipating a slight upgrade.

Final call (2020 vs 2019):

Big downgrade-Moderate downgrade-Small downgrade-Stable-Small upgrade-Moderate upgrade-Big upgrade

4. Regular Season Wins

According to sportsbooks, the Washington Redskins are expected to win 5 games this season. Should we bet the “over” or the “under”?

Here is the methodology I used in order to answer this vital question:

  • Use BetOnline.ag’s point spreads on all 256 regular season games.
  • Convert those point spreads into win probabilities.
  • Simulate each of the 256 games, according to those win probabilities, via the R statistical software.
  • Repeat the previous step one million times (you get 1M simulated seasons).
  • Count the proportion of seasons where the Redskins won more or less than 5 games.

The results of this thorough statistical investigation generate the 1st-highest ROI (Return On Investment) among the league's 32 teams. Does it recommend betting the over or the under?

As you can see on my website, the Over/Under pick is provided for free for the NFL teams producing the ROIs ranked 11-32.

The top 10 picks, which includes the Redskins, all have a ROI above 24% and they are available in my special NFL Gold Package. This is the best product I have ever sold. Take advantage of it!

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