The Washington Redskins are coming off of a tough year. After Kirk Cousins left in free agency, the Redskins traded for Alex Smith to replace him. They got off to a hot start, racing out to a 6-2 record. They appeared on their way to an NFC East title, but then Smith went down with his devastating leg injury.
The team promptly collapsed, and they only won one game the rest of the season. A lot has changed since then, including the drafting of quarterback Dwayne Haskins in the first round.
If Jay Gruden can’t deliver in 2019, his seat will be getting very hot.
Here are three things that need to happen for the Redskins to make the playoffs next year.
3. Dwayne Haskins needs to start
Gruden needs to not play any games, and make Haskins the starter. Case Keenum has proven to be serviceable in the past, but serviceable isn’t going to cut it here. The Redskins don’t have the kind of elite talent elsewhere that you’d need with a game-manager like Keenum.
If the Redskins are going to make a splash next season, they’re going to need someone with some upside under center.
It’s anyone’s guess as to how Haskins will play as a rookie, but the Redskins need to take the chance and find out. They can’t waste a handful of games by starting with Keenum and then turning things over to Haskins, as they might already be behind by then.
They also need to get Haskins as many reps with the first-team offense in training camp as possible.
2. Stay healthy
Injuries are what did Washington in last year, and they absolutely need to stay healthy.
They’ve already had some tough luck this offseason, including when linebacker Reuben Foster tore his ACL. Foster was supposed to be a huge part of the defense, so it was a tough blow.
The Redskins have had some of the worst injury luck in the league the past couple of years, and they desperately need that trend to reverse itself if they want to make the playoffs next year.
The offensive line was decimated by injuries last year, and they need the group to stay healthy to be able to keep Haskins or Keenum upright.
They don’t have a ton of depth, so it’s imperative that the starters stay off injured reserve.
1. Derrius Guice bounce-back season
Guice was yet another example of Washington’s tough injury luck last year. The Redskins drafted him in the second round out of LSU last April, and he was supposed to be the team’s starting running back.
But then he tore his ACL in the preseason, causing him to miss his entire rookie campaign. It’s been a long road back for Guice, as he dealt with complications from his ACL surgery. But he’s back now, and the Redskins need him to take the reigns in 2019.
Adrian Peterson filled in admirably, but he clearly wore down toward the end of last season, and can’t carry as big of a load at his age.
If Washington is going to be successful on offense, they’ll need a full-speed Guice leading their backfield.