WASHINGTON — After an offseason with changes on and off the field, the Redskins report to training camp in Richmond with a number of question marks. They are coming off back-to-back winning seasons, but just missed the playoffs, which led to some front-office moves. General Manager Scot McCloughan was fired — along with defensive coordinator Joe Barry — and Doug Williams was promoted to senior vice president of player personnel, to name a few.
But the big questions of the offseason still remain.
Will the Kirk Cousins contract situation be a distraction?
Quarterback Kirk Cousins will play a second straight season under the franchise tag, after he and the team could not agree to terms on a long-term contract. How Cousins plays will determine the intensity with which this issue gets discussed throughout the season. It has never been a public distraction on Cousins’ end before this year, and he’ll be in a pretty good negotiating position if he’s healthy once the season ends. However, the lack of a long-term deal this year increases the odds that this could be his last season in Washington. That alone could make for an interesting season.
Cousins also has to adjust to losing offensive coordinator and play caller Sean McVay, with whom he had a great relationship. Head coach Jay Gruden will take over McVay’s duties now that he’s the head coach of the Rams.
How will the offense replace DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon?
One of the Redskins’ biggest challenges will be replacing two 1,000-yard receivers in DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon. The acquisition of Terrell Pryor will help, along with the return of Josh Doctson, if he can stay healthy. Jamison Crowder proved last year that he belonged in this offense and gained the trust of his coaches and quarterback. All that will be crucial with tight end Jordan Reed battling a toe injury. Reed is one of the best tight ends in the league and a No. 1 threat on any offense when he can stay on the field.
How will the newcomers on defense adjust to the new defensive coaching staff?
As it has been in the past, the defense will be a big question mark heading into camp and into the season.
On the defensive side, Greg Manusky takes over for the fired Joe Barry as coordinator. Defensive line coach Jim Tomsula will be a big addition to the staff as well. As another former head coach in the mix, Tomsula takes over a unit that has had a lot of turnover this offseason. There could be three new starters on the defensive line, including top draft pick Jonathan Allen. The other two starters could be free agent signees Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee.
At the safety position, Su’a Cravens will be making the switch to safety and free agent acquisition D.J. Swearinger should be an upgrade over what the club had in 2016.
Will linebacker Junior Gallette finally make it on the field and contribute? He has torn his Achilles the last two summers before the season even started. Gallette says he’s in the best shape of his life and ready to contribute.
The defense will also be without Trent Murphy for the first four games because of his suspension for PED’s.
These are just a few of the questions that will be answered before the season opener on September 10 against the Eagles. Check back with our live blog for updates, photos and videos from Richmond as we count down the days to the beginning of another NFL season.