Running back Roy Helu #29 of the Washington Redskins drags Jacob Cutrera #51 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as he scores during the second half at FedExField on August 29, 2012 in Landover, Maryland.
(August 28, 2012 - Source: Rob Carr/Getty Images North America)

5 Reasons why the Redskins will improve in 2014 that don’t involve RGIII

You cannot read a story about the Redskins improving without mentioning Robert Griffin III. We get it. But here are five reasons why the Redskins will be better this season that don’t mention the boy wunderkind. Some you haven’t thought of.

No.1 The Redskins play a fourth-place schedule this year.

Say hello to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings (again). Say good-bye to the Atlanta Falcons.

While playing bottom dwellers from other divisions often helps, the Redskins have to execute here. If ever there was a time to beat the 4-12 Falcons, it was in 2013. Beat Atlanta and Washington would have been 4-12 instead of 3-13. Kirk Cousins had his best performance in that game, a 27-26 loss.

Like the Redskins, the Buccaneers and the Vikings bring in new coaching staffs. Does anyone at Redskins Park remember how to defense Norv Turners’ downfield offense? We used to be good at that. Does Jay Gruden have any insight into Mike Zimmer’s coaching philosophy? Zimmer and Gruden were co-coordinators with the Bengals last year.

 

The Redskins and the Vikings have moved up and down in lock step since the Millennium. We’ve played them seven times since 2005. The ‘Skins went 1-3 against the Vikes under Mike Shanahan, but he’s gone.

No. 2 The AFC West is OFF the schedule.

The AFC South rotates onto the schedule vs. NFC East teams. Three-win teams must never think in terms of gimme games, so we’ll circle the Jaguars and the rebuilding Texans as maybe games.

Offsetting the absence of the AFC West is the presence of the NFC West, yeah, from the frying pan into the fire. Fear the Rams more than the Seahawks or the 49ers. The Redskins are 3-4 vs. the Rams since 2006. Danny Amendola is off St. Louis’ roster this time.

What will the Rams do with No. 2 overall pick we traded to them for RG?

No. 3 DeSean Jackson is addition by addition…

…unlike the Eagles who see DJax’s release as addition by subtraction.

Time will tell if Chip Kelly’s new math is the correct one, but Hog Heaven believes that the gain works in Washington’s favor. We think the ‘Skins will split with the Iggles to get one more win than 2013.

No fan should be blind that Jackson comes to us tainted. We just don’t know the real reason why. Hog Heaven likes the move and we like the contract better. Bruce Allen structured a deal that limits the team’s exposure to two seasons. Best of all Jackson wants to be here for reasons more than money and more than revenge. He fits and he feels welcomed, needed, and wanted. This honeymoon should last all year.

Jackson will be Jackson in time, but here’s what he does for the offense, assuming both he and Pierre Garcon are on the field at the same time.

  • Opposing defenses don’t load the box with eight players.
  • Opposing defense play the safeties in deep Tampa-2, opening gaps in the secondary.
  • Garcon and Alfred Morris are more effective even if they have fewer total yards.

If I knew how to exploit those opportunities, I’d be a coach. That’s Gruden’s job.

No. 4 The defense is not as bad as you think.

You read that on Hog Heaven on January 28, 2014 in Greg Trippiedi’s story found here.

“Strictly based on unit performance, Jim Haslett outperformed Kyle Shanahan in three of the last four years.”

Washington’s 2013 defense was the same as the 2012 defense. That team won the division because it complimented what the offense was doing in turnover differential. The D needs improvement, but not a massive overhaul.

No. 5 The Redskins will revert to the mean.

Washington has averaged seven wins per season (actually 6.714 if you do the math) since 2000. The Pro Football Almanac projected them for 7.5 wins in 2013. They had the talent to win six or seven games even if Kirk Cousins started all season.

When OTAs begins next month, and especially when training camp opens in July, we’ll get all the blah blah blah about Robert Griffin III’s full off-season schedule. That’s true, but is not the only reason the Redskins will be better.

Start your season projections at seven wins and go up or down from there.

Anthony Brown

About Anthony Brown

Lifelong Redskins fan and blogger about football and life since 2004. Joined MVN's Hog Heaven blog in 2005 and then moved Redskins Hog Heaven to Bolguin Network. Believes that the course of a season is pre-ordained by management decisions made during the offseason. Can occasionally be found on the This Given Sunday blog and he does guest posts.

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