The grade was generous, and earned, but I still don’t know what an offseason that warranted an A-minus will mean for the Redskins season. As we’ve seen before, good offseasons have led to epic collapses during the season.
But the moves Washington made this offseason certainly provided (potentially) a solid foundation for a franchise that routinely finishes last and lacked a concrete vision of how to build. Has all of that been resolved in one offseason? Time will answer that question. It was a good start, but it takes more than one offseason to rebuild a franchise.
But here are some reasons why, despite the strong offseason, I’m taking a wait-and-see approach to the season:
Too many holes. The Redskins were not going to solve every issue in one offseason; they had too many. Some places they found legitimate solutions (offensive line). They did a better job fortifying the defense, but now must mesh five new starters plus a new defensive staff and system. Takes time.
Head coach. Jay Gruden guided a four-win team last season and had lessons to learn, starting with not being quite so honest (bad for us, though). Plenty of changes have been made, the defensive talent has been upgraded so the excuses for the franchise have decreased. But until you lead a winning team, questions will remain.
Quarterback play. Not just Robert Griffin III, but the entire group. There are parts of each quarterback’s game that I really like, but all of them remain question marks. Griffin gets the first chance to keep the job, but he has a lot to prove after the past two seasons. This isn’t as simple as saying, “Run the 2012 offense!” Griffin needs to evolve and has the talent to do so; now we need to see it. How short is his leash – and will the front office/ownership allow Gruden full autonomy on the decision? The QB/coach dynamic has been a big one the past two seasons.
The outside pass rush. I’m not sold that Trent Murphy will make this huge leap in his second year. After watching film last season, it’s not as if he was threatening the quarterback that often; he has a lot of room for improvement – is it too much room? Preston Smith will need to be the guy here and, as a rookie, that could be difficult. Look for them to add another player here at some point (after final cuts?) to improve the depth.
The offensive line. I like the changes that they made, with Spencer Long and Brandon Scherff taking over on the right side. But that also means there likely will be some bumpy moments considering neither has started an NFL game. The improvement will be there long term, but what will it look like in the short term? Eventually, this line has enough talent and the proper coaching to be a good one. When that occurs, I don’t know.
Safety. The team seems upbeat about the changes made at safety this offseason – and that’s not always the case (last year being an example). But what does Dashon Goldson have left? Can Jeron Johnson or Duke Ihenacho become a quality starter? An improved front helps them, as does the addition of corner Chris Culliver. But they still have to prove they can do the job.
History. The Redskins have had good offseasons in the past only to go up in flames. However, you can’t call the 2013 offseason a good one (not with Griffin rehabbing from a knee injury and all the behind-the-scenes issues trickling out). And last offseason was one of change more than it was productive. Both led to disastrous seasons. But we’ve seen plenty in the past here to know that good offseasons don’t always translate to in-season success.