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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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Dallas sportscaster really doesn't want you comparing the Cowboys' O-line to The Hogs

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Dallas sportscaster really doesn't want you comparing the Cowboys' O-line to The Hogs

You'd think that comparing an offensive line to The Hogs — that famous unit who played a major role in the Redskins' best days in the 1980s and '90s — would come across as a compliment.

But one Dallas sportscaster didn't take it as such when a CSN reporter tried to do so. 

On Wednesday's edition of Countdown to Training Camp, Newy Scruggs joined Chris Miller and Doc Walker to talk about the Cowboys. During that discussion, Miller asked Scruggs if the team's revered offensive line could end up as the second coming of The Hogs.

Scruggs responded by calling that thought disrespectful. Not disrespectful to The Hogs, however.

"We've already had a great wall in Dallas that won three Super Bowls, OK?" Scruggs said with a tone that was a mix of annoyed and incredulous. "Why can't they be that next version? Let's not compare them to something that's over in Washington."

To see Scruggs' full answer to Miller's question and his entire explanation for why he didn't like it, watch the video above. And for any Redskins fans who don't like the way he spoke about The Hogs, here's the man's Twitter. Now, tweet away.

MORE NFL: TWO STEPS THAT'LL MAKE RYAN KERRIGAN MUCH BETTER

 

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Ryan Kerrigan is capable of even more sacks, but he needs help from other defenders

Ryan Kerrigan is capable of even more sacks, but he needs help from other defenders

Here's a list of things you can depend on Ryan Kerrigan doing: having bigger biceps than you, being a part of the world's cutest engagement photos and showing up on Sundays to harrass opposing quarterbacks. 

The Redskins' 2011 first-round pick has never missed an NFL game and has averaged 9.75 sacks over the course of his six-year career. But CSN analyst and former Redskin Doc Walker thinks the 28-year-old can be even better than the production he's posted for Washington.

"He can get that waking up," Walker said, referring to the 11 sacks Kerrigan notched last season. "I need 16, big fella."

But in Walker's opinion, there are two things that are holding the Pro Bowler back from reaching the next level. For his full analysis of what's missing, watch the video above.

MORE REDSKINS: CLINTON PORTIS ONCE CONTEMPLATED MURDER