The Detroit Lions haven’t played Washington in three years. In that time, both teams have made the playoffs once. Both teams bowed out of the playoffs in the first round. Both teams have completely overhauled their coaching staff and even hired a new general manager.
Hoping to stabilize both of these franchises, the teams will meet in Week 7 this season. Washington is looking to win their second-consecutive NFC East title for the first time since the 1982-1984 seasons, when they won three in a row. But how much has the team changed since last year? Our friends at Hogs Haven gave us this preview:
2015 record: 9-7, lost to Packers in Wild Card Weekend
Matchup with Lions: Week 7 in Detroit
Line: Lions by 1
Last meeting: Lions 27, Washington 20 (2013)
Notable free agent additions: CB Josh Norman, DL Kendall Reyes
Notable free agent departures: QB Robert Griffin III, RB ALfred Morris, DT Terrance Knighton, LB Keenan Robinson, WR Andre Roberts
Draft picks expected to contribute as rookies: WR Josh Doctson, S/LB Su’a Cravens, CB Kendall Fuller
Biggest offseason addition: It would be hard not to call the acquisition of an All-Pro CB our biggest addition of the offseason, especially when the secondary has been one of the biggest weaknesses of this Redskins team over the last few seasons. The importance of the insertion of Josh Norman into this defense can not be understated.
Biggest storyline heading into training camp: Will Kirk Cousins play on the franchise tag, and more importantly, will he take a step forward from his meteoric finish to the 2015 campaign? He threw for 23 touchdowns and three interceptions over the last ten games of the season last year en route to both the playoffs and a firm grasp on the locker room. If he continues evolving from there, Washington can call itself a true contender.
Under-the-radar storyline heading into training camp: What is our safety position going to look like? DeAngelo Hall returns as likely the most certain member of our starting safety duo, which doesn’t exactly inspire fear in opposing passing offenses. David Bruton and Duke Ihenacho will certainly factor heavily in the training camp battle to fill out the backside of our defense, but all eyes will be on rookie Su’a Cravens, the hybrid safety/linebacker. If he is able to log meaningful minutes at the strong safety position and make the kinds of plays our coaches feel confident he can make, this secondary could be exponentially better than it has been for years.
Notable injuries heading into training camp: Junior Galette continues to heal from his Achilles injury suffered in August 2015, and all reports seem to lean toward an impressive recovery. Should he regain his pass-rushing form from two seasons ago, it would be the equivalent of adding a top free agent from our own roster. First-round draft pick Josh Doctson is also being held out of a lot of workouts so far to allow a tender Achilles to heal fully before training camp.