The Washington Redskins -- yes, the Redskins -- have actually looked like a competent franchise the last year or so. After years of RG3 drama, Washington named Kirk Cousins its starting quarterback last season and never looked back finishing with a 9-7 record and NFC East title. No, things aren't perfect in Washington, but they are trending upwards for the 'Skins, and the team could be in for a breakthrough 2016. Here are five reasons why Washington could repeat as NFC East champs this season.
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The Cowboys are a mystery
Maybe the most overblown narrative of the offseason is that Dallas filled its only missing piece by drafting Ezekiel Elliott at running back. Now that he steps into the void left by DeMarco Murray two offseasons ago, we're just supposed to hand the Cowboys the division title, right? Well, not quite. Elliott is an improvement at running back, but the rushing attack was far from the only hole Dallas had last year. Tony Romo struggled to stay healthy, and at 36-years-old it's hard to imagine him on the field for a full 16 games in 2016. Even if he does, the Dallas defense is still a work in progress after ranking 22nd in rushing yards allowed last season. For all the hype Dallas has received this offseason, the Cowboys have as much to prove as anyone this season.
Getty ImagesTom Pennington
The NFC East is not exactly stable
When you think of the Redskins, the term "model of consistency" isn't exactly a term that comes to mind. But relative to the rest of the division, that's exactly what they've been over the last 18 months or so. Dallas has issues and both the Giants and Eagles are breaking in new coaches. Considering the G-Men haven't made the playoffs since 2011, it seems hard to believe they'll make the leap in 2016. It's the same with the Eagles, who appear set to deal with Sam Bradford/Carson Wentz melodrama all season long. If those two are down, it means the division is there for the taking.
The defense has better depth
Adding depth on the defense was a must in this year's draft. Washington added two players who could contribute right away in safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens and cornerback Kendall Fuller. Cravens is the kind of guy who breathes football, an emotional leader who led USC with 86 tackles last season on his way to All-Pac 12 honors. Fuller is an instinctive cornerback who easily could have gone in the first round if he weren't coming off a knee injury last season. Plug those two in with the existing pieces already in place, and there's no doubt that the Redskins defense will be much improved in 2016.
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The offense has a huge new weapon to work with
The Redskins weren't a "bad" passing team last season (finishing 10th in the NFL in passing yardage), but with DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon both creeping towards 30, Washington needed to infuse some youth into its receiving corps. With the No. 22 pick, the Redskins added possibly the best receiver in the 2016 draft in TCU's Josh Doctson. Doctson finished with 79 catches and over 1,300 yards last year, and the amazing thing is that he did it while missing three games with a wrist injury. Add him in with Jackson, Garcon and tight end Jordan Reed, and Washington undoubtedly has the most explosive receiving corps in the NFC East.
While it seems like a lifetime ago since Robert Griffin III actually played in games for the Redskins, it was actually barely a year ago before Jay Gruden handed the starting quarterback job to Kirk Cousins and the team took off. Despite the success Cousins had, he's still been a starter for only a relatively short time, which raises the question: Can you imagine how good he can be after a full offseason (and now a full training camp) to work with the first team? Where he doesn't have to split reps and share roles, but instead knows he's the guy? For the first time in seemingly forever, Washington has stability at QB entering the season, which is more than a lot of teams can say.