Alex Smith, Washington’s new quarterback, was about as effective as the person who held the job last season, Kirk Cousins, who now plays for Minnesota. The good news for the Redskins is that there are a lot of so-so teams on their schedule. (John McDonnell/The Washington Post)

It’s that time of year again. The National Football League (NFL) season is getting underway, and local fans are wondering how the Washington Redskins will do this season.

I have been writing the KidsPost sports column for 18 (!) years, and in those 18 NFL seasons the Redskins have managed only five winning records and one playoff win. Will they be better this year? Let’s look at some of the keys to the season.

Quarterback: The big news here is that veteran Alex Smith is taking over for Kirk Cousins, who signed with the Minnesota Vikings after last season. Smith’s performance in 2017, when he played for the Kansas City Chiefs, appears to have been about the same as or maybe a little better than Cousins’s.

2017 Smith Cousins
Passes completed 67.5
percent
64.3
percent
Yards passing 4,042 4,093
Touchdown passes 26 27
Interceptions 5 13

Quarterback rating

104.7 93.9

Source: NFLTHE WASHINGTON POST

But with the Chiefs, Smith was helped by three Pro Bowl teammates: running back Kareem Hunt, wide receiver Tyreek Hill and tight end Travis Kelce. He won’t have those kinds of playmakers in Washington. Tight end Jordan Reed gets hurt too much, and the Redskins wide receivers are unproven. So Smith may struggle.

Defense: Washington was tied at 27th (out of 32 NFL teams) for most points allowed, giving up more than 24 points per game. Worse than that, it seemed the defense never came up with a key stop when it was really needed.

The defense has a chance to improve with young linemen Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne (both from the Alabama Crimson Tide) anchoring the middle. The Redskins line will have to put pressure on the quarterback because their defensive backs are questionable.

The schedule: Let’s face it, the Redskins are a middle-of-the-league team that will have trouble beating the powerhouses on their schedule such as the Green Bay Packers, New Orleans Saints and Atlanta Falcons. Washington also has two games against the defending Super Bowl champs, the Philadelphia Eagles.

The good news is that there are a lot of not-so-great teams on the Redskins’ schedule. The season starts with games against the Arizona Cardinals and the Indianapolis Colts. Believe me, they are not the New England Patriots.

If the Redskins can get off to a good start, that may give them some momentum going against such so-so teams as the Carolina Panthers, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Houston Texans as well as division rivals New York Giants and Dallas Cowboys.

Prediction: The Redskins don’t look strong enough to beat the good NFL teams or even many of the average ones. I see another losing season and a 5-11 record.