What to know about the 2017 season from a football perspective.
The Redskins are entering their fourth season in the NFL, and the team will be without starters starting quarterback Kirk Cousins, left guard Anthony Davis, left tackle Ryan Kerrigan, center Bryan Bulaga and left guard Joe Barry, who all missed the final five games with injuries.
All three are expected to return this season.
With Cousins and Davis in the fold, the Redskins will be looking to replace a roster that includes veteran starter Chris Chester and a trio of young receivers.
But there are a few things to watch out for as the Redskins prepare for their first season without the franchise’s two most dynamic players.
First, the secondary.
Washington finished with the second-most interceptions last season, trailing only New Orleans.
In the last six seasons, Washington’s interceptions rate has been about one-fifth of what it was during that span.
So the Redskins need to focus on creating turnovers early in the game, especially when they are playing a deep secondary.
Second, the quarterback situation.
Cousins missed the first seven games of the season with a sprained MCL, and Davis has yet to return.
The Redskins were 0-6 when Davis missed a game.
In that span, Washington has lost three straight games, and its quarterback rating is about the same as it was when Cousins was out.
The team is also dealing with injuries to veterans Terrelle Pryor and Chris Baker, and it is not known when Davis will return from a torn Achilles.
But the Redskins have been successful at replacing the two injured players, and they are also looking to improve on that defensive line.
The defense is a strength for the Redskins.
They finished with an average DVOA of 26.8 percent last season and ranked fourth in the league in scoring defense.
And the Redskins defense also led the league with nine interceptions.
The biggest reason for the success of the defense is the team’s pass rush, which ranked sixth in the NFC with 7.7 sacks.
Washington finished with seven sacks and one interception for a team average of 9.3 sacks.
But when it comes to sacks, the defense was not the dominant force it was last season.
When Washington was on offense, the pass rush accounted for only 4.9 percent of the total offense.
When Cousins is out, the team has a huge void at cornerback, where it had just two interceptions last year.
But cornerback D.J. Swearinger, who started all 16 games last season with the first-team defense, missed the entire 2016 season after tearing his ACL in training camp.
He also missed all of training camp with an injury to his left shoulder.
This year, the former first-round pick will be battling for playing time, but he should be ready for Week 1.
The only other safety on the roster who can play in the slot is safety Kevin King, who played all 16 regular-season games in 2016 and made eight starts.
King is not expected to start, and he is a player who will be a factor early in Washington’s game plan.
Washington is also looking for playmakers in the secondary and on offense.
The team finished second in the conference in rushing yards per game last season (5.7) and is expected to be one of the top scoring teams in the AFC.
The biggest playmakers are safeties Josh Doctson and Bashaud Breeland, who combined for 26 interceptions and 11 passes defensed.
But Washington also added linebacker Justin Gilbert, who finished the season as Washington’s leading tackler.
The quarterback situation could be a problem for Washington as well.
Cousins, who will turn 30 in March, is expected at least to start the season.
Davis, who is entering his third season in Washington, will also turn 30 before the season starts.
He is expected on the verge of his final season, and his career high in interceptions is 13.
If Cousins starts out poorly, it could put the Redskins at a disadvantage heading into the postseason.
Cousins is a proven winner, and this team has always had a chance to win, but the quarterback position is still a concern.
If Washington fails to win a game, Cousins could be the only thing holding the team back.
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