Welcome to “This Is Totally Your Year,” our overly optimistic preview of the 2014-15 NFL season for all 32 teams. We’ve broken down why every team — yes, even your team (and yes, even your team, Rams fans) — will win it all this year. We’ll also give some reasons for pessimism and even estimate an actual season prediction. Next up: The Washington/Virginia-area Football Team.
The Washington football team, much like the Cowboys and the Giants and the Eagles, have most of the key ingredients for a successful football team playing in the modern day NFL.
Pro Bowl quarterback. Dynamic running back capable of 1,500+ yard seasons. A star wide receiver.
They also lack the same things: Defense.
All things considered, this division is pretty even on paper, except when you consider what Washington’s ceiling is vis-a-vis the other three teams.
IF RGIII RETURNS TO FORM, THE REST OF THE NFC EAST DOES NOT HAVE AN ANSWER FOR HIM.
As much as we — meaning people who watch and opine about football — love to malign Robert Griffin’s future, his 2013 wasn’t all that different from his 2012. The major drop off seems to have been in turnovers, of which he had 10 more last season than he did his rookie year. Here’s why reading into those statistics is a farce…
Before both of Eli Manning’s Super Bowls, he threw 20+ interceptions — a gradual increase over the course of three years that promptly dropped off in the seasons he took New York to the promise land. What happened after each Championship? The picks creep back in.
How about Dan fucking Marino? In his second complete year as the Dolphins starting quarterback, his stats were eerily similar to those of RGIII. That’s right — Dan Marino. In fact, after Marino’s first full season, where he had an incredible 108.9 QBR, the following year he had nine more interceptions, a dramatically lower completion percentage, and a similar QBR to that of Robert Griffin’s ’13.
The point is, passers have down years, especially early in their careers, and we can’t start trashing RGIII just because fellow draft classmen Andrew Luck is on pace to become the best quarterback in league when Peyton decides to pack it in. We know what Griffin is capable of and we know that this league is only getting easier for quarterbacks. Fewer interceptions and seven more touchdowns in 2014, and no one’s worrying about him next offseason. They’ll be predicting greatness once again — a very plausible, if not likely, scenario for Washington’s quarterback.
Bottom-line: He’s a smart football player with a cannon for an arm, the ability to make defenders miss/extend plays. The only other teams with that kind of skill set behind center are the 49ers and Seattle, and we know how that’s worked out.
WASHINGTON HAS THE BEST DEFENSE IN THEIR DIVISION.
Kerrigan and Orakpo are, by a large margin, the best linebacker combo in the NFC East.
Ex-Giant Barry Cofield and ex-Cowboy Jason Hatcher are proven commodities who can stop the run and rush the passer (Hatcher had 12 sacks last year). Moreover, the fact that they’re now in Washington means there are holes in the defensive lines of Washington’s division rivals. (Holes that have not been filled, by the way.)
We call that a win/win.
Oh, and that secondary? Ya, after a terrible 2013, GM Bruce Allen patched up their pass defense with veterans, much like Giants did this offseason (except with far less fanfare). Tracy Porter and Ryan Clark as compliments to DeAngelo Hall and Brandon Meriweather? Jerry Jones would trade one of his refurbished testicles for those kinds of DBs. It’s not a horrible crew.
NEW COACH, NEW LIFE.
If there ever were a reason to be optimistic about the Washington football team, it’s first-year coach Jay Gruden. On the heels of Chip Kelly’s breakout season at the helm in Philly, Gruden’s pass-happy coaching mentality will put Griffin squarely in the driver seat — a place he felt he should’ve been under Shanahan, despite only being allowed to sit on Coach Mike’s lap and drive around the parking lot.
More passing = more speed = more scoring. Especially in their division.
The point is, everybody in Landover gets a new start under the Gruden regime, most notably DeSean Jackson, who left the Eagles after his best season, ever. If Jackson pans out in D.C., the Eagles could lose their grip on the NFC East. (Another win/win.)
OH YA, THEY HAVE THE FIFTH BEST RUNNING BACK IN FOOTBALL.
In his two seasons as a pro, Alfred Morris has finished in the top four in rushing yards both years. He’s a beast. Were it not for the severe drop off in touches in 2013, Morris would’ve challenged LeSean McCoy for the league’s rushing yardage title. An improved team will mean more good things from Morris — a guy who’s shown he can take over a game (see: Dallas, 2012).
Actual Prediction: 10-6. Wild Card birth, lose in first round (Gruden’s first playoff experience is a learning one).