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Opponent Offseason Update: Washington Redskins


As we move closer to the start of training camp, will take a closer look at each Giants 2017 opponent and how they've adjusted their roster over the course of the offseason.

*Today, we'll take at the Washington Redskins. The Giants play the Redskins twice in the final six weeks. They travel to Washington for a night game on Thanksgiving (11/23) and host the Redskins on New Year's Eve in the season finale. *

Last Season: 8-7-1, 3rd place in NFC East. The Redskins started 6-3-1 but stumbled down stretch, winning only two of their final six games to miss out on the playoffs. They lost to the Giants, 19-10, on the final Sunday of the season with a playoff bid on the line.

Key Additions: DT Terrell McClain, DL Stacy McGee, S D.J. Swearinger, WR Terrelle Pryor, LB Zach Brown

Key Losses: WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garcon, DE Ricky Jean-Francois, RDE Chris Baker, LB Mason Foster, S Duke Ihenacho, Offensive Coordinator Sean McVay.

Draft Class: DE Jonathan Allen, OLB Ryan Anderson, CB Fabian Moreau, RB Samaje Perine, S Montae Nicholson, TE Jeremy Sprinkle, C Chris Roullier, WR Robert Davis, S John Harvey-Clemons, CB John Holsey

Overview: The Redskins were a good team again last year thanks to excellent play by quarterback Kirk Cousins and the rest of the offense. They were right in the mix for a playoff spot from the start of the season but came up short with some bad losses down the stretch to the Cardinals and Panthers. The defense is good enough up front, but besides Josh Norman, the secondary was an issue all year. There are a number of new faces on offense this year, which will be a challenge for the twice franchised Kirk Cousins and Jay Gruden.

2016 Offense

3rd yards per game
22nd yards per game
2nd pass yards per game
4th Sack Rate Allowed
5th Third down %
29th Red Zone %
12th points per game

The Redskins had one of the best offenses in all of football last year, but it didn't show up on the scoreboard nearly enough because of a poor red zone touchdown rate. They scored touchdowns on just 46% of their red zone trips, in large part because they could not run the ball consistently. They hope 4th round pick Samaje Perine, a bruiser out of Oklahoma, will help solve that problem. The running game is all that separates the Redskins from being one of the most productive offenses in the sport.

A healthy Jordan Reed should help in that regard as well. Reed hurt his shoulder on Thanksgiving in a loss to the Cowboys and wasn't the same the rest of the season. It was a big reason the Redskins struggled down the stretch of the season. Cousins has also lost two of his top wide receivers from last year: DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. Terrelle Pryor was brought in to help replace the two veterans, and second year man Josh Doctson, who missed most of last season with an Achilles injury, will be counted on to contribute.

Cousins will also have to deal with the departure of offensive coordinator Sean McVay, now the head coach of the Rams. Jay Gruden will take over play calling duties. Cousins will also have an impending free agency hanging over his head, after being franchised for two consecutive seasons. A new management team will be making that decision: Scot McCloughan is no longer the team's General Manager and has been replaced by Doug Williams, the new Senior Vice President of Player Personnel.

2016 Defense

28th yards per game
24th rush yards per game
25th pass yards per game
10th sack rate
32nd 3rd down percentage
26th red zone percentage
19th points per game
T-17th in Turnover Differential: 0

The Redskins defense was a huge part of what held them back last season and they hope some of their new free agent additions and draft picks will help improve that side of the ball. First round pick Jonathan Allen and free agent addition Terrell McClain should be immediate starters on the defensive line. Ryan Anderson should challenge for playing time as a pass rusher at outside linebacker. Veteran additions Zach Brown and D.J. Swearinger should start at linebacker and safety, respectively.

2016 draft pick and linebacker convert Su'a Craven should be the starting strong safety with the hope that draft picks Fabian Moreau and Montae Nicholson can help a struggling secondary right away. Bashaud Breeland struggled last season and teams targeted him often. Josh Norman is still a very good player to take care of one half of the field.

Conclusion: If the Redskins can figure out a way to make their defense close to the league average, they can be a real contender to win the NFC East. As it stands now, it seems more likely they are more like the 2016 version of themselves: a team that relies on their offense to win games. If the drama of Cousins' impending free agency doesn't distract the team and cause some dysfunction, there's no reason to think the Redskins won't be right in the mix for a playoff spot at the end of the season.

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