Lessons learned, success to follow? Recapping an awful Redskins season

Evan Vieth

The Washington Redskins ended this decade the same way they started: losing games. They won only three games this past season, their worst since 2013.

After firing Head Coach Jay Gruden following an 0-5 start to the season, interim Head Coach Bill Callahan finished the year off with the team before getting fired this offseason. Though the team had an awful year, I believe that the future is bright for Washington. 

One of the positives we can take away from the year is that the Redskins will have a very good draft pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The draft order is decided based on a team’s overall record, with the worst team getting the first pick and so on. The Redskins’ 3-13 record earned them the second overall pick behind the Cincinnati Bengals. 

As of now, the projected second pick is a superstar edge rusher from Ohio State, Chase Young. Young is one of the best pass-rushing prospects that has come out of a draft class in a long time. I can’t see the team taking anyone else in the draft, as any other pick would seem like an idiotic move by the Redskins’ front office. It seems ironic but the best thing that happened to the Redskins this year was them losing. 

The Redskins have been historically awful at drafting later in the first round, but I am confident that they can strike gold in this year’s draft. Their last three top five picks were Brandon Scherff, their franchise guard, Robert Griffin III, who was one of the best young quarterbacks in the game before his unfortunate injury, and Trent Williams, another franchise offensive lineman. I believe that Young is the best player in the draft, and adding him to an already good front seven will make the Redskins’ defense respectable for next year. This also includes many high-value rookies just from this past year.  Dwayne Haskins, Montez Sweat, and Terry McLaurin have all played huge roles for the team and are likely to take big steps forward in next year’s season. I think Sweat and McLaurin both have pro-bowl potential, and we’ll have to see how Haskins will develop in his career.

Another positive is that the only three wins the team garnered were all after the firing of former coach Jay Gruden. The team was 0-5 at the time of Gruden’s firing, which meant they won three more games than they had in the entire season with an interim coach. I was thrilled with the firing of Gruden as his coaching has plagued the team for the past four seasons.

Now that the Redskins have former two-time Coach of the Year Ron Rivera in charge, it is likely that they will have more success. I personally loved the Rivera signing. He has already found success in the league and with a young team like the Redskins, and a veteran coach is exactly what is needed. 

Rivera brought along Jack Del Rio as his defensive play-caller and Scott Turner as the offensive coordinator, who has coached with Rivera before. This is the first time I have been confident in a Redskins coaching staff since Joe Gibbs came back for the second time in 2004. With how the team has played in the past few years, a solid defense is a dream for any Redskins fan.

Turner has bounced around a lot in the 2010s, including two tenures with the Carolina Panthers. I’m not confident that he was the best option for the offensive coordinator position, but only time will tell if he can make it work.

One negative that is very obvious is The Redskins’ record. Winning three games is never good, even if it means they have a good draft pick. Most of the games this season were unwatchable at points, with a mix of awful coaching from Jay Gruden and overall bad play from both the offense and defense.

 Another negative is their quarterback situation. The team combined for the least amount of passing yards and was third-worst in touchdowns. Free-agent signing Case Keenum was awful when he was healthy, which was very rare. First Round pick Dwayne Haskins was not very good in his nine games, in which he only had seven touchdowns and 1365 yards. He also had a 58 percent completion percentage, the worst in the league for all starters. Haskins was extremely disappointing. 

Many Redskins fans, including me, had a lot of faith in Haskins coming out of Ohio State, but his play was less than impressive. Granted, the Redskins have done an awful job of giving him an offense to play with, but his play was not what we expected from a top 15 pick. I don’t believe that Haskins will be good enough to win the team a divisional championship in his career, but for now, we are stuck with him.

Hopefully, Haskins’s struggles came as a result of bad coaching, because there is some serious talent that has come out of that 2019 rookie class. Haskins was joined by Wide receiver Terry McLaurin and Linebackers Montez Sweat and Cole Holcomb as notable picks in this past draft. 

The last three were all extremely impactful for the team, as McLaurin showed flashes of a number one receiver, Sweat looked deadly as a pass rusher and Holcomb led the team in tackles. Rivera and the teams’ next GM will look to replicate the success of this past year’s draft in 2020. I can’t wait to see what Rivera has in store for the team, and I doubt it can be any worse than what the previous coaching staff had done.

This season gave Washington their worst record since 2013, the year after Robert Griffin III’s injury. The team can only go up from here, with key pieces like Haskins, McLaurin and a very solid defensive line that will shine in the future. This off-season will be very important for the team, as it could shape their success for the next 10 years. New coach Ron Rivera has a lot to prove, and we can only hope to see a Dwayne Haskins-led Redskins in the playoffs in the near future.