Following a couple seasons worth of poor football and front office turmoil, the Washington Redskins entered the 2015 offseason with a clear goal to implement real change and turn things around. 

There’s a lot of work to be done, and things won’t turn around completely in a single offseason. But here’s my look at how they’ve done so far.

By Joe Messineo


It Starts With Coaching

When a team has as many problems as Washington has of late, a new foundation can be in order, and Washington seems to have recognized this fact. 

Specifically, the ‘Skins announced a new General Manager in Scot McCloughan, and promptly followed up with the hiring of Bill Callahan and Matt Cavanaugh to coach the offensive line and quarterbacks, respectively.

These are all experienced veterans who will be expected to engineer the turnaround for these Redskins. 

Callahan and Cavanaugh should combine to provide the discipline, continuity, and strategic thinking that have been lacking on offense of late. And McCloughan, for his part, is off to a good start in boosting the roster with tough, capable talent.


Free Agency Brought Real Improvement

Front office and coaching hires are exciting, but the Redskins need players on both sides of the ball, and as it happened they got off to a great start in free agency. 

Four acquisitions in particular stand out:

  • Jeron Johnson (S) – Johnson failed to make a strong impact for the Seahawks, but the hope is likely that he’ll bring some of the infamous Seattle secondary’s culture to Washington. He’s a versatile competitor, and he’ll get a chance to show it in a thin pass defense.
  • Stephen Paea (DT) – Paea is an experienced and accomplished pass rusher who last played for the Bears, and who should be able to make an immediate contribution.
  • Chris Culliver (CB) – Culliver is a genuine star on the field. Some fans will likely raise their eyebrows at the idea of giving $32 million (over four years) to a player who’s known for getting into trouble off the field, but if he plays like he’s capable of, I have a feeling the past will be forgiven.
  • Terrance Knighton (NT) – The elite tackle and former Bronco is probably the Redskins’ best newcomer. He’s an immense body, and is capable of shaping opposing teams’ rush attacks about as much as any single player can.

It’s not a complete fix for a defense that needed a lot of work, but that batch of signings should be a great start.


The Draft Was Stellar

Finally, there was the NFL Draft, in which the Redskins made enough strong picks to earn a coveted A- grade from ESPN’s Mel Kiper. Kiper’s grade is not law, but in this case I happen to agree with him. 

The Redskins had an outstanding draft, headlined by these selections:

  • Brandon Scherff (OT – Iowa) – Scherff is a can’t-miss prospect, and an impact OT from day one. He’ll protect RG-III (a huge need), open up the run, and act as a shiny new toy for Bill Callahan, who as mentioned has been brought on board to handle the o-line.
  • Preston Smith (DE – Mississippi St.) – Smith fits the same mold as some of the Redskins’ free agent signings: he’s a versatile workhorse and a particularly physical player who can be part of the attempted defensive culture shift.
  • Matt Jones (RB – Florida) – Jones won’t be a star, but he’s a big, powerful runner capable of backing up Morris now that Roy Helu, Jr. is gone.
  • Jamison Crowder (WR – Duke) – A tiny wide receiver from a basketball school wouldn’t normally be exciting, but Crowder has good speed and exceptional hands. He has the potential to develop into a deadly slot option.
  • Martrell Spaight (OLB – Arkansas) – Spaight was a popular pick among analysts, and yet another player known for toughness and physicality.


What It All Means

Add up all these noteworthy acquisitions, and you can see a clear direction for the Redskins’ offseason. The priorities were to strengthen the defense across the board, and provide RG-III with some relief on offense, and in both pursuits Washington appears to have succeeded.

We’ll first see the new-look on the field on August 13 when Washington takes on the Cleveland Browns, and then again with the Lions at Redskins on August 20. 

That’s a nice early schedule that will give the ‘Skins’ newcomers a chance to get going, first against a relatively weak offensive team and then against a potentially deadly passing attack. 

But no matter what the preseason reveals, expect the Redskins’ offseason to produce results when the season rolls around.  


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