Having won the NFC East during last year’s 2015 campaign, the Washington Redskins could be in line to make a run at another division title. With talented pieces in place and depth across the roster, the Burgundy and Gold have a positive vibe about them heading into training camp.
Is this team the odds-on favorite to repeat as division champs?
It depends on who you ask.
Having been at OTA’s, minicamp (and also covering this franchise for almost six years), this is by far the most talented group I have seen… with or without pads.
Obviously, a lot will be determined when the pads come on during training camp and when the team plays meaningful games. But there is an obvious influx of talent in Ashburn that the national media and fans of other teams many not yet truly understand.
Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is coming off a record-setting season. He looks improved as well he should. The offense in his second year under center should be more explosive.
Tight end Jordan Reed has risen to the top of the NFC conference — if not the league — as one of the best at his position.
The running back position is the wild card.
The defense has made some key additions either through free agency or the draft with a shutdown corner in Josh Norman and several veteran players.
It must be hard for non-Washington fans to see the potential.
In years past, there was always the sale of “hope” by the team’s front office and marketing departments since there was nothing remotely close to a winning team to sell. There was always a player brought in that was inflated to be better than he really was to keep fans honest… especially in the eyes of those around the NFL. The Washington teams that took the field back then were just not that good if not consistently competitive.
But finally the team has both a sound front office and coaching staff so the results of last year should not take anyone by surprise.
Last week while on my good friend Rich Quinones’ daily broadcast “The Sports Bash Warm-Up” in South Jersey (ESPN Radio 97.3FM); I was confronted by an outsider who is not sold on this new-found optimism. Quinones could not believe my assessment that the Redskins should be the favorite to win the division again.
He quickly brought up the rash of injuries that befell the NFC east last year. I had to quickly remind him that it was Washington that had the most injuries of any team in the division and that they still won it. As well I reminded him that they won it with a much younger and inexperienced team; although now they seem like a young team with expectations and a sense of belonging in the playoff-caliber team talk.
Is this not what most franchises build for… a team full of young and hungry talent with something to prove?
This Redskins team may have not won over any fans or media outside of the beltway. But fans locally are smart enough to see that this is not the typical Washington setup of years gone by.
Perhaps if this team adopts an “us against the world” mentality, its playoff appearance last year will start to become the norm around these parts. Then fans and media outside of the “DMV” will understand what is brewing here.