2018 Washington Redskins Will Struggle In Deep NFC East

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TwinSpires Staff

August 13th, 2018

by DS Williamson
After a rough 7-9 SU season, the 2018 Washington Redskins must take steps to once again contend in the deep NFC East Division. Washington allowed starting QB Kirk Cousins to walk in free agency. They traded a young cornerback and decided to pick up part of Kansas City QB Alex Smith’s guaranteed contract so that the solid QB could play in D.C. Smith is 34-years-old. Does he have enough football left to turn Washington into a contender?

Alex Smith will do just fine Smith has gone to the post-season every year since 2010. He’s one of the most accurate quarterbacks in the NFL. He completes close to 70% of his passes. He rarely throws interceptions. Most in D.C. believe that Smith is a step up from Cousins, and the former first-overall's availability led to the Redskins moving in a different direction.

Smith should have success in Washington because right guard Brandon Scherff and left tackle Trent Williams are Pro Bowlers. Not only that, but, when healthy, Jordan Reed is one of the top tight-ends in the NFL. Smith loved to throw to tight-end Travis Kelce while in KC. If Smith-to-Reed is half as good as Smith to Kelce, Washington’s offense will be better off for it.

There was supposed to be more help incoming with Darrius Guice, the troubled LSU prospect who saw his stock plummet at draft time due to personality concerns. The rookie tore his ACL during the preseason to add to his woes. Coach Jay Gruden has tried unsuccessfully to start Rob Kelley and Chris Thompson in the backfield. He’s yearning for a running back that can rush it with success every week, not just have flashes of success once in a while. Guice was supposed to be that x-factor and now the Redskins are back to the drawing board.

Defense should be a problem in DC The problems for the 2018 Washington Redskins will most likely be on the defensive side. Washington’s got a great player in Ryan Kerrigan. The "3" players in the 3-4, though, could be hit or miss this season. Rookie nose tackle Daron Payne only sacked the quarterback 3 times during his entire career at Alabama. He should help stop the rush, but he won’t pressure quarterbacks.

Jonathan Allen was hurt all last season. It remains to be seen if he can stop the rush or go after quarterbacks. Washington did sign Zach Brown away from Buffalo. He's capable if not unremarkable so far.  Stopping the rush is a priority for Washington, and Brown was part of a Buffalo corps that wasn't especially notable when it came to this aspect of defense. It'll be a surprise if the 2018 Washington Redskins are any better.

The biggest issue is that if Washington’s front seven can’t pressure quarterbacks, the secondary will fail. Corner Josh Norman is a Pro Bowler. Outside of Norman, the rest of the secondary isn’t overly talented and franchise icon DeAngelo Hall retired this summer. Washington ranked 9th against the pass last season, and will most certainly be worse this fall.

Washington will watch the post-season from home The offense in D.C. should be very good with Alex Smith under center. Smith is the consummate professional and is the type of weapon that head coach Jay Gruden prefers to have. The defense has some issues, though, and that’s where things will get dicey for the 2018 Washington Redskins.

The team that plays in the nation’s capital must face the NFC South’s three playoff teams from last season:  Saints, Panthers, and Falcons. Also on the schedule are Green Bay, Houston, Jacksonville, and Tennessee.

That’s seven teams that are better, maybe significantly better, than Washington. Unless Washington provides a complete turnaround this season, 7-9 SU might be the best they can do. Even that feels like a bridge too far.