The Redskins Gambled On Three Position Groups This Offseason And The Results Aren't Great


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The Redskins got terrible injury news on Monday, as three offensive starters landed on the injured reserve list. No team can expect major injuries like that, certainly not on the same day.

Still, looking back on some of the decisions from the Washington front office this past offseason, the team might not have done enough to prepare for possible injuries, either. 

Specifically, the Redskins rolled the dice on three position groups this offseason: cornerback, interior offensive line and wide receiver. 

Let's start with a bit of praise, as the Redskins' cornerback group has largely played well. The 'Skins have an established starter in Josh Norman, but after that, the team is relying on players with little to no experience. Quinton Dunbar, when healthy, has played very well and looks like a possible star down the road.

Second-year man Fabian Moreau has been mostly solid playing nickel cornerback, and even rookies Greg Stroman and Danny Johnson have provided encouraging results. 

On the interior of the offensive line, however, the Redskins did little to address the 2017 deficiency at left guard, and now the problem is even worse. 

Losing Shawn Lauvao to a season-ending injury is unfortunate, but it's not a surprise. He hasn't played a full season since 2012 and has landed on the injured reserve each of the last two seasons. 

NFL teams can't expect injuries. The sport is so violent that if teams tried to prepare for every injury that would pop up during a 16-game season, they probably just wouldn't play any games. 

Yet, teams can, and should, consider the injury history of every player. Particularly a 31-year-old offensive lineman that's missed 33 games over the last four seasons. 

Coming into the 2018 campaign with Lauvao at left guard was defensible. Kinda.

Coming into the 2018 campaign with Lauvao at left guard without a veteran backup or high-round draft pick as insurance was not. 


Losing Brandon Scherff hurts the team more than losing Lauvao, but losing Scherff for the final eight games is much more unexpected. Football teams can't plan for the unexpected, but should look at what's likely. 

On Sunday in Tampa, Week 10 of the season, it's highly likely the Redskins roll out at least one guard that signed with the team this week. And maybe two guards that signed with the team this week.

That isn't good, and it's something that could have been prevented. 

Now, about that receiver group. 

The Redskins thought they addressed the aituation this offseason by adding veteran WR Paul Richardson from the Seahawks. And on the surface, that move should have helped. 

Richardson played well early in the season, and gave the group some depth paired with Jamison Crowder and Josh Doctson. Then, Crowder got hurt in the team's fourth game and hasn't played since. Doctson missed a game earlier this year too. 

And now Richardson is headed to injured reserve. The skinny speedster deserves a lot of credit for trying to gut through a painful shoulder injury, but eventually the pain wins. 

At receiver on Sunday in Tampa, the team will rely on some combination of Doctson and Maurice Harris, supplemented by Michael Floyd or Brian Quick. Jehu Chesson will be active, but his role is mostly confined to special teams (which he does very well for what it's worth). Floyd, Quick and Chesson were not on the Week 1 roster. 

It's not as simple to condemn the actions the Redskins brass took at wide receiver as it was on the offensive line. The team simply didn't address depth at left guard. 

At wideout, they tried. 

Bringing in Richardson looked like a sound move. He had vertical speed that the Redskins needed, and a tough temperament. At the same time, he also had a track record with plenty of injuries, dating back to his time with the Seahawks and in college. 

All offseason, the Redskins talked boldy about the team they'd assembled. They liked this team and thought the 2018 squad looked like a division winner. 

For eight weeks, that thinking was right. At the halfway point of the season, Washington is 5-3 and sits in first place in the division. Only now, the injuries are piling up, again, and offseason decisions will start to carry regular season weight. 

Along the inside of the offensive line, the answer is obvious that the team didn't do enough. At cornerback, it looks like gambling on youth will pay off. The wide receiver group will likely leave bland results, but some of that might be a byproduct of the offensive production in general.

It's good for an NFL team to be confident in its collected talent. The Redskins were confident, and through eight games, the organization was rewarded for that confidence.

The bad news is an NFL season goes for 16 games, and injuries inevitably play a large role. The final results will prove if Washington was actually right to be confident. 


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