The 2018 Redskins are a classic case of “what could have been”. After a hot start going 6-3 in the first 9 games, they got bit by the injury bug and the team only won one more game going 7-9 on the year. The Skins looked like they had a winning formula with a good running game backed by a solid defense. Then quarterback Alex Smith suffered a gruesome leg injury and the season was lost.
Offense- The Alex Smith injury might be a career ender. He suffered compound and spiral fractures in his leg, then had more surgeries due to infection setting in. While he may not light up the scoreboard and will never be called a gunslinger, Smith is a winner. He’s set to count 20 million against the cap, and the leg is a huge question mark so the team has some tough decisions to make at the quarterback position.
Running back Adrian Peterson went toe to toe with father time and did more than hold his own. Peterson rushed for over 1000 yards at a healthy 4.2 yards-per-carry. But Peterson turns 34 in March and the Skins drafted Derrius Guice in the first round of last years draft. If Guice can come back from his knee injury, he is the future at running back.
The receiving corps disappointed. Forty million dollar free agent Paul Richardson was lost for the year in week 9, Jamison Crowder fought through injuries and only played in 9 games, and Josh Dotson is sniffing the bust label. In their defense they were catching passes from a conservative quarterback, then a bunch of backups, but the team might need an overhaul at the position. Tight end Jordan Reed led the team in receiving with 54 catches for 558 yards and 2 Tds.
The offensive line got obliterated by injuries. Everybody played through some sort of ailment at some point, but Washington lost both starting guards Brandon Scherff and Shawn Lauvao for the season. When the backups starting going down too, the nail was in the coffin.
Defense- The defense had to carry the team, and played pretty good considering the hole they were put in by all the injuries on offense. They finished 18th in points-per-game allowed and 17th in yards-per-game, but there are some playmakers on this defense.
The Redskins have hit home runs with both of their last two first-round draft picks in defensive linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne. These two combined for 13 sacks and killed it in the run game. Ryan Kerrigan had 13 sacks on his own and he’s one of the best pass rushers in the league. With Matt Ioannidis and Zack Brown, the front seven is a player or two away from being special.
The Redskins had some of the best safety play in the league when they traded for Ha Ha Clinton-Dix. He joined D.J. Swearinger and the team was set on the backend. However, Clinton-Dix is a free agent and Swearinger decided to publicly trash the coaching staff so now he’s a Cardinal.
Josh Norman didn’t play up to his standard and got beat way too many times to keep the title of “shut down corner”. Norman was Pro Football Focus’ 48th ranked corner in the league.
Outlook- The Redskins future depends on the health of Alex Smith. If the team decides to go in another direction it changes everything the team will do in the draft and free agency.
Washington has the 15th pick in the 2019 NFL Draft. The team hit on their last two first rounders but have some misses on this roster too. If the team moves up to take a quarterback you can forget about filling other team needs. The Skins have an estimated 17 million dollars in salary cap space and have needs at safety, receiver, and the offensive line.
The future is in limbo, especially with the quarterback position. While Allen and Payne are building blocks for the future, Josh Norman and Ryan Kerrigan are in their 30’s. No matter how much talent they add and how many holes they fill, the Redskins need to stay healthy to get back on top of the NFC East.
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