— The Sports Xchange —
The excuses were there if the Washington Redskins wanted them. A crippling rash of injuries to key players and one of the NFL’s toughest schedules made 2017 a miserable slog that ended with a 7-9 record.
But few players were biting on breakdown day after an ugly 18-10 loss to the New York Giants on Sunday ended things. The Redskins head into the offseason uncertain about the contract status of quarterback Kirk Cousins and knowing other roster changes could take place as the organization has stalled.
“Obviously, you saw what happened, 2017. You obviously saw what happened, 2016,” Washington cornerback Josh Norman said. “In 2018 we cannot allow it to happen. We’ve got to take ownership of that.”
A coaching change is unlikely after Redskins head coach Jay Gruden signed a two-year extension in March that was tacked onto the final year of his contract. Washington improved from 4-12 in Gruden’s first season to 9-7 and an NFC East title in 2015.
The Redskins have hovered around .500 since, however — 8-7-1 in 2016 and 7-9 this season. No Washington coach has started a fifth consecutive season for owner Dan Snyder since he bought the team in 1999.
The Redskins played five of the eight division champions, six games against teams with at least 10 wins and 10 games against teams with winning records. The offense still managed to stay relevant with Cousins under far more pressure thanks to the offensive line injuries and a reduction in weapons with Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson, Rob Kelley and wide receiver Terrelle Pryor all on injured reserve for six weeks or longer.
WHAT WENT RIGHT: The offense still managed to stay middle-of-the-pack in the NFL despite critical losses on the offensive line, tight end, running back and wide receiver. Kirk Cousins topped 4,000 passing yards for the third year in a row and had 27 touchdowns to 13 interceptions. The defense was much improved in the first half of the season against the run, but after a season-ending injury to rookie defensive end Jonathan Allen (Lisfranc Sprain), that changed for the worse. Safety D.J. Swearinger and inside linebacker Zach Brown were excellent additions in free agency and helped stabilize the defense.
WHAT WENT WRONG: Injuries. The Redskins had 20 players go on injured reserve, which was third-most in the NFL. But it wasn’t the number that hurt, it was the quality of players lost. Losing left tackle Trent Williams, who played hurt much of the season, running backs Chris Thompson (broken leg) and Rob Kelley (knee), and tight end Jordan Reed (hamstring) proved unsustainable. An inside linebacker unit that featured limited depth lost Mason Foster (shoulder) and Will Compton (Lisfranc Sprain) and Jonathan Allen, the No. 17 overall pick, was having a wonderful rookie season before his injury. The outside wide receivers (Pryor, Josh Doctson) weren’t as good as they needed to be, either.