It seems really strange to type this, but the Redskins -- yes, the Redskins -- have actually looked like a competent franchise the last year or so. After years of the on-again, off-again 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.
Yes, it's early, but here are five reasons Washington could repeat as NFC East champs this season.
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1. Stability at quarterback
While it seems like a lifetime ago since Robert Griffin III actually played in games for the Redskins, it was actually more recent than you might think. RG3 was still officially the team's starter until just nine months ago, before Jay Gruden handed the starting quarterback job to Kirk Cousins and the team took off.
Even despite the success that 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 with a full offseason (and eventually a full training camp) to work with the first team? Where he doesn't have to split reps and share roles, but instead knows that he's the guy?
It's absolutely invaluable, especially when you consider ...
2. Washington added a huge weapon to the offense
The Redskins certainly weren't a "bad" passing team last season (they finished 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.
Well, not only did they add "youth," but they might have added "the best wide receiver in the draft" when they selected TCU's Josh Doctson with the 22nd overall pick.
Simply put, Doctson was a man among boys in college football last year, finishing with 79 catches and over 1,300 yards, 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.
3. They added more depth to their defense
While Doctson was a nice addition to an already established offense, depth on the defense was a must in the draft. Washington added two players who could contribute right away in safety/linebacker Su'a Cravens and cornerback Kendall Fuller in the second and third rounds respectively.
In Cravens, Washington is getting the kind of guy who eats, sleeps and breathes football, an emotional leader who led USC with 86 tackles last season on his way to All-Pac 12 honors. Meanwhile, 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.
4. The NFC East is ever-evolving
When you think of the Redskins, the term "model of consistency" isn't exactly a term that comes to mind. But as crazy as it seems, relative to the rest of the division, that's exactly what they've been over the last 18 months or so.
Dallas has plenty of issues (we'll get to them momentarily) 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.
5. Are the Dallas Cowboys really that trustworthy?
Maybe the most overblown narrative of the offseason is that Dallas filled in 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.
Yes, 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, it's still the Redskins who won the division last year.
And while it's early, we're predicting them to do exactly the same in 2016.