The Washington Redskins basically swapped places and personas with the Philadelphia Eagles last season. A year after winning the NFC East behind rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III things fell apart in D.C. Griffin wasn't the same dynamic difference-maker after offseason knee surgery and the Redskins went an abysmal 3-13, finishing last in the division. RGIII ended the season on the bench, and the Redskins ended the tenure of Mike Shanahan as head coach.
It's a new day in Washington with first-time head coach Jay Gruden, former offensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, having replaced the fired Shanahan. Griffin, too, is reportedly as good as new. After laboring through the 2013 season RGIII is reportedly healthy once again - which could be bad news for defenders who could not keep up with him in 2012. Reports on RGIII have been mixed in the preseason, with some saying he doesn't look comfortable trying to become a better pocket passer.
The Redskins made a big splash this offseason when they signed DeSean Jackson after the three-time Pro Bowl wide receiver was cut by the Eagles in an apparent conflict with head coach Chip Kelly. Griffin and Jackson give Washington a pair of speedy play-makers. Jackson and Andre Roberts, signed from the Arizona Cardinals, provide some help on the outside for Pierre Garcon. As pretty much the Redskins only reliable target on the outside a season ago Garcon caught 113 passes.
Washington can also still turn to the power running of Alfred Morris, who has nearly 2,900 yards rushing over his first two NFL seasons.
The Redskins were second-last in the NFL in defense last season, surrendering 29.9 points per game. They brought in veteran free agents like defensive tackle Jason Hatcher, cornerback Tracy Porter and safety Ryan Clark to try to upgrade on that side of the ball.
The Giants spent much of the 2013 offseason studying the read-option offensive elements the Redskins employed successfully when Griffin was a rookie. The Giants ended up winning both meetings with Washington in 2013.
The ultimate success or failure of this team is really in the hands of RGIII. Over his first two seasons Washington has seen both sides.