Here are the biggest takeaways from a disastrous 2019 season for the Redskins:
Haskins provides hope for the future
First-round pick Dwayne Haskins had a slow start to his career but finished with a flourish that gave the team optimism for the future. The 15th overall selection struggled early and wasn’t handed the starting job until Week 9 in part because he hadn’t mastered some of the basic operations of playing quarterback in the NFL, including calling plays quickly in the huddle, sharpening his cadence at the line of scrimmage and adjusting pass protections.
In his first seven appearances, Haskins threw seven interceptions compared to just three touchdowns, but things improved significantly in his past two games. Haskins threw for a combined 394 yards with four touchdowns and no interceptions against the Eagles and Giants before going down with a high-ankle sprain that ended his season midway through Week 16.
Haskins showed steady improvement each week after being named the starter, and though it’s impossible to know how the team’s next coach and general manager will feel about him, his play over the final weeks provided signs of hope that he can be the franchise quarterback the organization envisioned when it drafted him.
The roster could look a lot different next season
The Redskins have a handful of veterans who could be salary cap cuts. Cornerback Josh Norman is the most likely subtraction after the team benched him in Week 12. The team would save $12.5 million against the cap if he’s released before June 1, and it’s clear he and the team are headed for a divorce.
Williams, the seven-time Pro-Bowl offensive tackle, is also likely gone after he held out until the trade deadline and was then placed on the non-football injury list. He and the team are at odds after Williams said a cancerous growth on his scalp was misdiagnosed by the team for several years.
A decision needs to be made on 31-year-old outside linebacker Ryan Kerrigan after he landed on injured reserve with a calf injury that ended his streak of 139 consecutive games played. The team would save $11.7 million if it released him before June 1. The Redskins also could look to get out of the final three years of wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr.’s five-year, $40 million deal after he totaled 48 catches for 507 yards and four touchdowns in two seasons that ended with a trip to injured reserve. Tight ends Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis could be released or choose to retire after season-ending concussions. Three-time Pro Bowl offensive guard Brandon Scherff, in line for a big payday, is eligible for free agency after the season.
More veterans’ futures are undecided, and adding to the uncertainty is the fact that it isn’t yet clear who will be making decisions moving forward. There could be a lot of turnover on this roster.
Several young players earned bigger roles
The frustrations of the season had at least one positive effect — the team was able to see what it had in many of its young players. This was perhaps most true at wide receiver. Rookie Terry McLaurin shined from the beginning, and fellow first-year wideouts Steven Sims Jr. and Kelvin Harmon stood out after moving into the starting lineup because of injuries late in the season. Sims scored touchdowns in the last three games and ripped off a 65-yard catch and run against Dallas.
On defense, rookie linebacker Cole Holcomb started 15 games and finished as the team’s third-leading tackler with 101. Montez Sweat, whom the Redskins traded up to the 26th overall pick to acquire, started every game and posted seven sacks. Other youngsters stepped up as well, providing reason for optimism at a few positions entering the offseason.
The defense disappointed
Washington’s defense was supposed to be its strength, but the unit was erratic. The group began Sunday ranked 24th in points allowed and 25th in yards allowed — a far cry from the preseason expectations that it could be a top-10 unit.
Injuries in the secondary piled up, but the team allowed 30.2 points per game during an 0-5 start when it was healthy. Defensive coordinator Greg Manusky is expected to be gone, and more changes are needed on that side of the ball.
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