The Washington Redskins envisioned quite a few things for their offense this season. They had a hotshot young running back, a proven winner at quarterback and a fast new receiver. Players were excited; coaches were excited.
There was just one problem: The Redskins almost never saw their projected starting lineup together on the field. From the start of training camp, they dealt with players in and out of the lineup or limited to a few reps in full-team work. They never played a game with their projected starting lineup on the field.
Last season was bad, too. They finished the season with 23 players on injured reserve and used 36 offensive-line combinations. They currently have 15 players on injured reserve, and that doesn’t include Colt McCoy, who hasn’t been placed on IR after suffering a broken fibula Monday night in Philadelphia. Two other players were activated off injured reserve earlier this season.
Here’s a look at Washington's situation, with each player’s injury and total games played:
Out for the season
Running back Derrius Guice (torn ACL, 0): It’s hard to measure running backs until games begin, but he showed quick cuts and vision from the time he arrived until he got hurt in the preseason opener. He caught the ball well, making the coaches think he could be a three-down back. Adrian Peterson has replaced him and rushed for 856 yards and seven touchdowns. It’s hard to know what Guice might have done, but Peterson has definitely helped.
Receiver Paul Richardson (shoulder, 7): He was never healthy this season after separating his shoulder in training camp. Eventually the bone started poking through his skin. Then he injured his knee. Richardson played through it but eventually shut it down. He was the lone speed receiver on the roster. Richardson finished with 20 catches and averaged 13.1 yards per catch.
Guard Brandon Scherff (torn pectoral muscle, 8): He was certainly playing at a Pro Bowl level. Scherff was key to the Redskins' run game with his ability to pull. He could block in space, too, making the screen game dangerous. They miss him as much as anyone. His replacement, Tony Bergstrom, suffered a high ankle sprain Monday and might miss the rest of the season.
Quarterback Alex Smith (broken leg, 10): Smith wasn’t putting up great numbers, having averaged 218 passing yards per game with 10 touchdowns overall. He clearly was still adjusting to the offense, and it didn’t help to have little speed -- or playmakers -- at receiver. His penchant for taking care of the ball helped. But once you lose your starter, you enter a danger zone. The Redskins are in a danger zone.
Guard Jonathan Cooper (torn biceps, 4): He was playing well in place of Lauvao. But he got hurt Monday, so the Redskins will be on their third left guard.
Receiver Cam Sims (ankle, 1): The rookie undrafted wideout was considered a raw talent when making the roster out of camp. But his talent might have allowed him to become a downfield threat. Given how the season has transpired, there’s no doubt that he would have gotten a chance.
Missed long stretches
Receiver Jamison Crowder (ankle, missed seven games): He was the receiver Philadelphia worried about on Monday because of his quickness and ability to find soft spots in zones. Crowder averaged 64 catches his first three seasons, working mostly out of the slot. He has caught 17 passes this season.
Running back Chris Thompson (ribs/knee, six games): He’s one of the best third-down backs in the NFL, both in terms of catching the ball and in protection. Thompson is one of the few players who can score anytime he touches the ball. He missed the last six games of 2018 with a broken leg.
Receiver Trey Quinn (ankle, nine games): Crowder’s replacement would have helped had he stayed healthy. But he got hurt in the season opener and then played in two games -- catching nine passes for 75 yards -- before getting hurt again.
Quarterback Colt McCoy (broken leg, three games): He was a starter for the first time since 2014, and that ended after two games. He isn't yet ruled out for the season, but at the earliest, he'd return for the season finale. The Redskins -- players and coaches -- trusted and respected McCoy. They’re now trying to win games with players not on their radar before Smith’s injury.