The Redskins have two potential 1,000-yard backs in Adrian Peterson and Derrius Guice, above. That is, if the left side of the line blocks better than expected and the defense prevents blowouts that force Washington to pass 40 times per game. Peterson was expected to be the prime back, but coach Jay Gruden said Monday that Guice will get more carries. Both need 15 carries per game for maximum effect. Without a prime receiver, Gruden will lighten the passing game if the Redskins can manage four yards on first-down runs.
After declaring “potential gets you beat” last week, Gruden will rely heavily on inexperienced and injury-prone receivers. Tight end Jordan Reed, above, suffered a preseason concussion so his reliability is suspect, too. Throw in a new QB and it’s not clear how the Redskins will keep opponents from stuffing the box. Who will push defenses back, Paul Richardson? Maybe, if he can stay healthy. Tight ends Vernon Davis and Reed may end up as the top pass catchers. Better hope rookies Terry McLaurin and Kelvin Harmon come through.
Jonathan Allen, above, Daron Payne and Matt Ioannidis make up one of the NFL’s top five defensive lines. They’re strong against the run and each can pressure quarterbacks. This is Washington’s greatest overall strength. Can outside linebackers Ryan Kerrigan and Montez Sweat sweep in for 20-plus combined sacks? If the line holds, opponents will have to throw often and the Redskins will need to cover the middle better than last year. The secondary can handle itself downfield, but there’s still an opening in the middle to fill.
How do the Redskins compensate for the loss of holdout left tackle Trent Williams, above, who’ll probably miss the season? They’ll start with veteran Donald Penn, 36, but the long season might eventually require second-year lineman Geron Christian. Williams was a top blind-side protector and he opened downfield running lanes. Either the Redskins run more to the right this season or they’ll need to go young on the left side with Christian and guard Wes Martin. Gruden plays Penn and left guard Ereck Flowers now, but change will come.
With a young roster, much of 2019 is really about 2020. But without a winning season, coach Jay Gruden, above, is just readying the team for his successor. So, does he stay with veterans longer than warranted or let youth gain some experience once the season is lost? It’s a tough situation for the coaching staff, but after five seasons it’s time for them to win or leave. If veteran quarterbacks Case Keenum and Colt McCoy get injured or fail, then playing rookie Dwayne Haskins is the white flag to start off 2020.
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