Next Thursday, the Washington Redskins will begin their annual training camp as the team will prep for the upcoming regular season.
Washington is entering this period with a fresh, young and exciting team that has potential to do great things and the sense of drama that has plagued the organization for decades has seem to drift off the horizon. Even with this new chapter, there are still some uncertainty about how the team will perform this year. Here’s my ten predictions for the Redskins’ 2018 campaign.
1. Derruis Guice will lead the league in rushing, win Offensive Rookie of the Year
After spending last season rotating running backs, Washington decided to use their second pick on LSU’s Derruis Guice. Guice has the potential to be a franchise cornerstone at running back since the days of Clinton Portis. Guice’s violent style of running will easily fit in an established offensive line with Pro Bowlers Trent Williams, Brandon Scherff and Morgan Moses, and his ability as a pass catcher will make a all-around weapon feared in the league.
Also in the past two seasons, rookies have led the league in rushing with Dallas’ Ezekiel Elliot in 2016 and Kansas City’s Kareem Hunt in 2017. With the new wave of young running backs exploding into the league, Guice will make himself a household name in 2018.
2. Jamison Crowder will lead the team in receptions, receiving touchdowns and eclipse 1,000 yards this season
After veterans Pierre Garcon and DeSean Jackson departed the organization last offseason, Washington mightily struggled with their passing offense and third-year wideout Jamison Crowder fell the biggest. Crowder didn’t match his production from 2016 as he was hampered with lingering injuries as the team failed to make the playoffs.
Crowder is crafty slot receiver who is known for his precise route running, catching skills and breakaway speed which made him a valuable go to guy for the team.
Washington’s new signal caller Alex Smith had success with wide receivers like Crowder throughout his career with the likes of Jeremy Maclin, Anquan Boldin and Michael Crabtree. His familiarity with Jay Gruden’s system may help build a new QB-WR relationship in D.C. In a contract year, Crowder will finally have his breakout campaign in a deep unit.
3. Fabian Moreau will have a breakout second year
Wasahington selected the UCLA standout in last year’s draft and Moreau had a lot of growing to do in his first full season. Moreau mainly was a special teams player and didn’t see enough playing time on the starting defense which basically made him a redshirted player.
With the departures of cornerbacks Kendall Fuller and Bashaud Breeland this offseason, there are many spots to filled in a revamped secondary and Moreau has the skill set to be a stout corner. Keep in mind that Fuller struggled in his first year as a rookie, but blossomed to be the best corner out of the unit in his sophomore season. Keep your eye out for Moreau during this training camp period.
4. Defense will improve to a top 15 unit in 2018
2017 saw the team pat Linebacker coach Greg Manusky to be the third defensive coordinator this decade. The unit showed promise earlier in the season, but injuries plagued them as they finished 21st in total defense, 9th in passing and 32nd in rushing.
In the offseason, Washington signed veterans Pernell McPhee, Orlando Scandrick and using most of their draft picks on defense by selecting Tim Settle and Greg Stroman, first-round pick Da’Ron Payne, Troy Apke, Shaun Dion Hamilton and selecting Adonis Alexander in the sixth round of the supplement draft this summer.
With returning starters in Josh Norman, Ryan Kerrigan, DJ Swearinger, Zach Brown and Jonathan Allen, plus an intriguing coaching staff with the likes of defensive back coach Torrian Gray and defensive line Jim Tomsula, Washington has a unit finally deep enough to make noise next season.
5. Washington will make the postseason, win their first playoff game since 2005
After winning the NFC East in 2015, Washington narrowly missed the postseason with 8-7-1 and 7-9 records in the last two seasons.
Even in 2017, season ending injuries (Washington had the most players on IR, breaking a record set in 2002) and poor play late in the season killed the team chances appearing in the tournament. In his fifth season as head coach, Jay Gruden finally has a team where he feels they are complete.
This is a do or die season for Coach Gruden & Co. and with a grueling schedule ahead of them, Washington has to establish themselves as a threat in stacked NFC conference and I think they will in 2018.
6. Josh Doctson will finally have his breakout season!
Drafting the TCU alum in the first round of the 2016 NFL Draft, we have yet to see Doctson take that full step becoming the No.1 guy and it’s not his fault. In his rookie campaign, Doctson only appeared in two games before being placed on IR with lingering Achilles injury. Last season, he was fully healthy, but didn’t see enough targets as he became lost in a struggling offense. With Smith under center, Doctson finally has a guy that can use his skill set to his advantage. Smith helped Kansas City wide receiver Tyreek Hill become a Pro Bowler in the past two seasons and J-Doc is urging to show what he has to prove to become a household name in 2018.