If there is one word that sums up the NFL preseason it is this: Optimism. For example, Dan Steinberg, my sometimes lunch buddy, talked to 12 random-ish fans at training camp and “all 12 thought the Redskins would win at least nine games. The average response was about 10.7 wins.”
The oddsmakers in Vegas set the over/under for Washington wins in the 2014 season at 7.5, and while improved tackling could help them reach that number, fans would be better served keeping their expectations low for the upcoming season: Since 2004, a team that has gone 2-14 or 3-13 averages 6.4 wins the following season.
Taking that a step further, plugging the Redskins 334 points and 478 points allowed into the Pythagorean Win formula, we would have expected them to win five games. Based on the work done at Pro Football Reference, we would then project them to win six games in 2014. Add to that DeSean Jackson, who has contributed anywhere from 0.75 and .98 wins to his Philadelphia teams over the past three seasons, and you could set an optimistic goal of seven wins next season.
After that, a lot has to go right. There were six teams in the past decade with three or fewer wins that turned in a nine-win season or better the following year, and perhaps not surprisingly, four improved on both sides of the ball in terms of yards per play:
Offensively, this Redskins team has vastly improved, but there still are too many question marks on defense to legitimately think this team is ready to turn the corner and turn in a 10-win or better season.