Season in review – Washington Redskins

by Lawrence Vos (@F10YRetro and @NFLFANINENGLAND)

The three time Super Bowl winners finished the decade without a single playoff victory and only three post-season games. 2019 turned out to be yet another disaster, as Chucky’s little bro had the locks changed when he wasn’t looking.

Entering the season 

This was not going to be an easy season for the Redskins to do anything meaningful. Two previous 7-9 seasons and 3rd place NFC East finishes were no great cause for optimism, and head coach Jay Gruden was many tipsters favourite as the first HC to get the axe after just 35 wins and one playoff appearance in five full seasons in charge. 

The team traded back up into the 1st round of the 2019 draft to acquire DE/OLB Montez Sweat after selecting their fourth 1st round QB this century, in the form of Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins. Haskins would be competing with veteran free agent acquisition Case Keenum, who came from the Broncos for a 6th round pick this year. Veteran QB Alex Smith was still recovering from a horror leg break and was a huge outside shot to play a single snap. 

Photo credit: Stacy Revere/Getty Images

Elsewhere the ‘Skins brought in FA safety Landon Collins (above) from divisional rivals the New York Giants, and moved on from some big, but not superstar names, including WR Jamison Crowder (Jets) and Preston Smith (Packers). 

The running back situation was filled with optimism as second year back Derrius Guice managed to survive the pre-season intact and was hoping to make a big impact ahead of future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson, who signed a two-year deal.

Wide receiver was the team’s huge weakness, having released former first rounder Josh Doctson, carrying an injured and inconsistent but expensive Paul Richardson along with zero impact free agent signings, leaving the likes of Trey Quinn, and two rookies, Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon, to try and make some sort of impact. 

The biggest single issue in Washington, as the 2019 season was about to begin, was the holdout of stud 7-time Pro Bowler OT Trent Williams, who fell out with the team following surgery he had on his head to remove a cancerous growth, claiming the team medical staff did not take his concerns seriously. 

During the season 

Up 17-0 in Week 1, on the road against the 2018 Super Bowl champion Eagles, and Redskins fans were in a state of euphoria, but the defense, much as it would be for the entire season, collapsed, as former star WR Desean Jackson scored on two bombs as Philly pulled off a 32-27 win. 

Picture credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Things got worse as the Redskins slid to 0-5, including three home losses, under Coach Gruden and Case Keenum. Keenum was benched Week 4 for rookie Dwayne Haskins (above), but he too failed to create a spark, throwing three interceptions in his first game action against the Giants.

The big but inevitable move then happened as Jay Gruden was fired before Week 6, replaced by former Raiders Super Bowl losing coach Bill Callahan, who took the job on an interim basis. In a battle between to 0-5 teams Callahan and the Redskins eeked out a 17-16 win in Miami against the Fitzmagic led Dolphins. The Redskins stopped a 2-point conversion with six seconds left to get win number one. 

The single win was not built on as four consecutive losses followed, with just 35 points scored in the four contests, including a 0-9 home shutout to the San Francisco 49ers in a quagmire. 

Standing at 1-8 after 10 weeks the Redskins somehow managed to put together a two-game win streak, under rookie QB Dwayne Haskins in just hs third and fourth career starts. The victories against the Lions and Panthers turned out to be the last notes in the win column for the 2019 Redskins. 

Bizarrely entering Week 14 the Redskins were still in playoff contention at 3-9, due to the ineptitude of the rest of the NFC East, but that dream died in a 5 point loss to the Green Bay Packers. 

The season ended with three consecutive divisional games, three consecutive divisional defeats, including a 47-16 humiliation by the Dallas Cowboys to end a miserable season. 

Finishing 3-13 the Redskins managed to rank 31st in the NFL, finished bottom of the NFC East and the NFC as a conference, and as a result ‘won’ the 2nd overall pick in the 2020 draft. Redskins OT Trent Williams didn’t take a snap, the team lost all six divisional games, and they ended the season without a permanent head coach. 

Photo credit: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

In a grave season there were few signs of life, with the exceptions being punter Tress Way (above), who became the NFC Pro Bowl starter and second-team All-Pro, and rookie 3rd Round pick Terry McLaurin having an outstanding year (58-919-7tds) and a place on the PFWA All-Rookie team.    

Offseason outlook 

The Redskins made a lightning quick move to get a new head coach in place, hiring former Panthers boss Ron Rivera to lead the team on New Years Day. Accompanying Rivera as defensive coordinator was another former NFL linebacker, in the form of Jack Del Rio, who served time as the Jaguars head coach. Bill Callahan is now back coaching the offensive line, and will be with the Cleveland Browns in 2020.

With the number two pick in the draft many experts are projecting Ohio State’s EDGE Chase Young as the obvious pick to make, after the 20 year old set a team record with 16.5 sacks in 2019. The Redskins will be hoping to emulate the success the 49ers had drafting a Buckeye at number two, namely Nick Bosa. 

After round one the Redskins need to target a tight end and secondary upgrades. With TE Vernon Davis retired, and TE Jordan Reed about as stable as a polystyrene statue, Washington need a blocking and receiving playmaker in the mould of former h-back Chris Cooley. 

Photo credit: AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais

The quarterback situation is not locked in. Dwayne Haskins will be entering his second offseason, under his second head coach, and therefore no loyalty. With an absolute plethora of free agents available the Redskins will likely avoid a big name as they kick the tyres very gently on Alex Smith (above) who will be 36, but still under contract. 

The strength on paper, the defensive line, is not living up to it’s draft position as Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen have been gashed by running backs and need to go back to basics to tackle harder. 

In a division with Saquon Barkley, Zeke Elliot and rising star Miles Sanders, the Redskins need to beef up the front seven. One name to look out for that may finally get some award recognition in 2020 is DT Matt Ioannidis, who ended 2019 with 8.5 sacks. 

Even the most optimistic Redskins fan will only be reaching for mediocrity in 2020. 8-8 would be an acceptable finish, and in the NFC East that could win a division crown. 

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