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Need to Know: Redskins have a big mountain to climb to improve their record

Need to Know: Redskins have a big mountain to climb to improve their record

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, July 6, 24 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.

A big mountain to climb

A few weeks ago here I looked at some reasons why the Redskins could be better than we think. If you’ve been looking for the other side of that coin, reasons why the Redskins might not have a record much better than the 4-12 they posted last year, here it is.

If they do again end up with double-digit losses it won’t necessarily be due to not having improved personnel or the coaching staff. Scot McCloughan has done a good job of shoring up the team’s major weaknesses (and the hiring of McCloughan filled a major weak spot in the front office).

But the Redskins have a big mountain to climb. As Thomas Boswell of the Washington Post pointed out, the Redskins weren’t just bad last year. They were really bad.

They were outscored by 137 points, an average of 8.6 per game. Only three other teams had a worse point differential. If you look at the 15 games they played against teams not named the Jacksonville Jaguars that per-game deficit increases to 10.5 points per game. Their 12 losses came by an average of over two touchdowns (14.6 points).

The Redskins did not lose many games that they were in late. Only in the losses to the Eagles, Vikings and 49ers were they truly competitive throughout. If you want to say that they “shoulda” won those games, that’s fine. But they also “coulda” lost to the Titans, Cowboys, and Eagles.

In short, they were what their record said they were.

A tremendous improvement for the 2015 Redskins would be to cut the scoring deficit by about six points per game. If they can do that, they would be around -40 in scoring. What kind of record could that get them?

Last year the Browns were outscored by 38 and went 7-9. The Falcons were -36 in net points and went 6-10. The Panthers won the NFC South at 7-8-1 while going -35 in net points. Going back to 2013 the Bills were -49 in points and 6-10 in the standings.

So we could expect some modest improvement in their record if they can shave that scoring deficit down to a few points per game. How likely is such an improvement? It would be unusual but not unheard of. Since Joe Gibbs’ first departure from the Redskins head coaching job in 1992, they have improved by at least 85 net points from one season to the next five times. The most recent was from 2011-2012 when they went from -79 to +48, a 127-point swing in the positive direction.

That improvement lifted the Redskins from 5-11 in last place to 10-6 and the NFC East title. Rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris got the team’s offense rolling and led the turnaround. Is there a similar transformational force this time around?

Perhaps at least a partial return to form by Griffin, a revitalized rushing game featuring Morris and rookie Matt Jones and a solid defensive improvement will spur some solid improvement.

It’s possible but far from certain that they will experience the type of turnaround they have seen once every four years or so in the past 20 years. They also could be better, maybe substantially better, and still not have it show up in the "W" column. We will see if they can take a giant leap forward or if any progress is more in the form of baby steps.

Timeline

—It’s been 190 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 69 days until they play the Dolphins at FedEx Field.

Days until: Redskins training camp starts 24; Preseason opener @ Browns 38; final cuts 61

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Josh Norman didn't stand a chance defending Kyle O’Quinn on this dunk

Josh Norman didn't stand a chance defending Kyle O’Quinn on this dunk

Josh Norman is a man of many talents — at least on the football field, and in the friendliest possible way, he was reminded of that this weekend during a charity basketball game.

Opposite of the defensive nightmare Norman can be for receivers, the New York Knicks' Kyle O’Quinn had a little fun with the Redskins cornerback and the 10-inch height difference they share during the during Bam Bam’s Spring Jam at the Ted Constant Convocation Center in Norfolk, Virginia.

O'Quinn got the ball and went up for a particularly easy dunk as Norman jumped and tried to swat the ball away but his effort was futile. 

While this was all in good fun, Norman should probably stick to football. 

Former Virginia Tech defenseive back and current Seattle Seahawk Kam Chancellor's foundation is behind the charity game, which also included Redskins' Lynden Trail, Marshawn Lynch, Michael Bennett and Antoine Bethea.  

Related: Kirk Cousins got some tips from an 85-year-old woman

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Memorial Day Reflection: Kirk Cousins appreciates the cost of freedom

Memorial Day Reflection: Kirk Cousins appreciates the cost of freedom

On Memorial Day, people all over the United States stop to reflect on the freedoms provided for by the military. Redskins quarterback Kirk Cousins is no different.

"So grateful for living in this country and understanding that that came at a price and I just want to say thank you," Cousins said.

Speaking after an OTA session last week with military members in attendance, Cousins explained that he appreciates the added sense of history and obligation that comes from living in and around D.C.

"It’s a good reminder why it’s such a benefit to play here in Washington. It just feels like it’s that much more real with Andrews Air Force Base here and so many soldiers here. There’s something special about playing for the city of Washington, D.C. and driving 30 minutes into the city and going by the White House and the Pentagon and the monuments."

The Redskins hosted military members from multiple branches at their OTAs, and afterward, Cousins and a number of other players signed autographs. 

"You say ‘Man, I want to give these soldiers, these fans something to cheer about and make them excited and bring this city together.' Hopefully winning football games can do that. What a great thing. That’s the vision we’re chasing," the Redskins passer said. "Hopefully we can get it done this season."

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