A New Year’s resolution for each Big 5 D.C. team

D.C. United: Stay healthy United had a terrific turnaround in 2014, completing a worst-to-first campaign that netted them the top overall seed in the Eastern Conference. Their reward? A matchup with their bitter rival, who bested them and ousted them from the postseason before they could even get a foothold. In the process, one of their only real weaknesses was exposed: their depth, or lack thereof. After missing Chris Pontius for most of the year to numerous setbacks, leading scorer Luis Silva went down in mid-October with a strained hamstring. When Pontius finally returned to the lineup, he replaced Chris Rolfs, who was out more than a month after breaking his arm. They also saw defenders Jeff Parke and Chris Korb succumb to injuries. The good news is that United got solid minutes from those who stepped in — including rookie Steve Birnbaum. If they can stay healthier next season, those who took advantage of their opportunities should provide the club with stronger depth off the bench that it may have been missing during lean times this season. (Getty Images/Harry How)
Washington Capitals: Be better beyond 60 minutes The Caps are clinging to a bottom-rung playoff position, only two points ahead of the ninth-place team, which has two games in hand. They only have 11 regulation losses through 36 games, but have come up short seven times in overtime or shootouts. Those seven losses are tied for the second most in the East, fourth most in the NHL. Washington is 3-4 in OT and just 1-3 in shootout scenarios, meaning their winning percentage drops from .560 to .364 after the 60th minute. These are small sample sizes, to be sure. But if the Caps want to not only make the playoffs but advance past the conference semis for the first time since ’97-’98, they’ll have to win a game or two in extra time. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)
Washington Nationals: Finally solve the second-base problem When Ian Desmond enjoyed a breakout campaign at shortstop in 2012, the Nats hoped that Danny Espinosa, his keystone counterpart, a year younger and a year behind him on the development curve, would follow. That hasn’t really happened. While Espinosa plays great defense and mashes left-handed pitching, he simply cannot hit righties at a major league level. This has led to a lot of mixing and matching at second base for the past couple of seasons, with no clear answer emerging. Asdrubal Cabrera passed the eye test as a satisfactory late-season fill-in last year, but actually amassed a -0.3 WAR with the Nats in 49 games. He left for Tampa Bay as a free agent, and there is no big league ready prospect on the horizon with the chops to step in right away on a contending team. With a very thin free-agent market, the only feasible option seems to be making a trade. Washington could also try to trade for a third baseman and move Anthony Rendon to second, but his value defensively is clearly greater at the hot corner. The Rays’ Ben Zobrist remains atop the wish list (and may be more tenable after the Cabrera signing), but other veterans such as Chase Utley might also be available. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
Washington Redskins: Re-evaluate everyone and everything Yes, including the GM. Yes, including the owner. Yes, including the mascot. When nothing is going right, it’s worth picking apart each part of your operation to figure out what can be improved. From the field up, this team has been an unmitigated disaster ever since RG3’s knee gave out on the FedExField turf in December 2012. Hell, even the field itself needs to be replaced — the green paint over the dirt was visible on television. The offensive line needs major help. The defensive secondary needs major help. The entire culture needs a severe attitude adjustment. We could see this back as early as training camp. If nobody on the inside could, it might be time to blow the whole thing up. (AP Photo/Richard Lipski)
Washington Wizards: Don’t rock the boat The Wizards are off to a tremendous 22-9 start to the season, Tuesday night’s tough loss at Dallas notwithstanding. It’s a brutal task for any team to win the latter half of a road back-to-back against Western Conference teams. As it stands, Washington is a game back of Atlanta in the Southeast Division and one of only three teams in the Eastern Conference with fewer than 10 losses. The New Year will hand the Wiz a brutal trio of games — at Oklahoma City, at San Antonio and at New Orleans in a four-day stretch. There’s a very decent chance they could lose all three. No matter the result, we should get a better idea of the team’s strengths and weaknesses against three very talented and very different squads. Most importantly, no matter the results, the Wizards need to trust the process. There’s plenty of time to make minor tweaks or roster additions before the spring. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

As 2015 begins, Washington’s sports teams need to make resolutions. Here’s what D.C. United, the Capitals, the Nationals, the Redskins and the Wizards should consider.

Federal News Network Logo

More from WTOP

Log in to your WTOP account for notifications and alerts customized for you.

Sign up