- John Keim, ESPN Staff Writer
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The offseason grade turned out to be much better than their outlook for the next three years. That's the opinion of ESPN's panel of experts when it comes to the Washington Redskins.
In May, a panel of ESPN experts gave the Redskins an A-minus for their offseason (the same grade I gave them last week). But the latest project for the Insiders page shows just how far the Redskins have to go in the minds of some: They ranked 27th when it comes to what shape they're in for the next three years. It takes into account the roster, coaching, quarterback, front office and the draft. The Redskins had a total score of 59.3, which was down from 69.4 a year ago.
The roster was down (to 60, from 70) and perhaps that can be explained by reality. Last season, there was still a belief the Redskins merely needed to change coaches because they had the talent. Wrong. But the roster has been upgraded this season. Also, the Redskins received a mark of 66 for their draft outlook a year ago compared to 64.3 this year. Not sure why it would go down; this class, I believe, is better and was selected by someone with a proven track record in Scot McCloughan.
Overall, the Redskins dropped three spots in large part, my colleague Mike Sando wrote, "because there is much less optimism for Robert Griffin III and the quarterback situation."
McCloughan's arrival meant the Redskins jumped from 27 to 14 in front office rankings and their drafting went from 31st to 23rd. Two low spots: coaching (27) and roster (26). The latter was impacted, John Clayton said, by the Griffin trade as well as the $36 million cap penalty. I'm not big on excuses, but those are definite factors.
For the crowd that loves to (foolishly) toss around the word "Haters" to describe any article that doesn't glorify their team, here's what the experts said in an Insider's post about their offseason in May. Their grade was the same one I gave them, an A-minus. And both of these Insider projects mirror my general sentiment that I wrote about Monday: Good offseason; lots of work needed to be done -- and still remains.
But so much rides on Griffin's development -- even if the roster around him has improved (in my eyes at least; how much so? Stay tuned).
Anyway, here's what ESPN NFL analyst Louis Riddick said in the article about the situation: "RG III's inability to stay on the field has severely hampered his development as a passer. And while I love just about everything this team has done from a player acquisition standpoint since McCloughan took over, exercising Griffin's fifth-year option for 2016 at $16.15 million is a huge risk, given his injury history. I'd be worried every time Griffin broke the pocket and ran with the football. This season will go a long way toward determining whether Griffin has a long-term future in Washington."
Riddick is right on all counts. That said, if Griffin plays well, then the risk goes away -- they clearly would want to keep him. If he doesn't, then he could be replaced long before the season ends, which would minimize the risk.
One thing the Redskins tried to do this offseason is rebuild the rest of the roster so they're far less reliant on the quarterback position than they have been the past three seasons. But even in 2012, they caused turnovers and limited them offensively, which helped tremendously.
It's not surprising where the Redskins rank. The memory of the past two seasons are not erased by one good offseason. The key, now, is where they rank in 2016.