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Need to Know: Redskins’ 5 biggest one-year improvements

May 23, 2015, 4:00 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Saturday, May 23, three days before the Washington Redskins start OTAs.

(I’m out on vacation this week. I’ll have some new posts here when OTAs get underway but I’ll also be bringing back some of the more popular and talked about posts from the past. Enjoy the “best of” posts and if you’re in Corolla, NC give me a shout!)

Nickel coverage

Some fans are saying that the Redskins have a shot at winning the NFC East title in 2015. If they are going to do that, they likely will have to win nine or more games. If they did, they would tie the biggest single-season improvement in team history. Here are the top five season-to-season improvements in wins for the Redskins since 1970:

+5, 2011-2012—The Redskins were floundering under Mike Shanahan until a pair of rookies, quarterback Robert Griffin III and running back Alfred Morris, spurred a seven-game winning streak to push the Redskins from five wins in 2011 to 10 wins and the NFC East title.

+4, 2006-2007—It looked like the Redskins were headed to their second straight losing season under Joe Gibbs, especially after the shooting death of star safety Sean Taylor. But they overcame that and an injury to Jason Campbell to roll off four straight wins to finish the season at 9-7. That was up from five wins the year before and it got the Redskins a wild card playoff spot.

+4, 2004-2005—Yes, the Joe Gibbs II era was very up and down. Gibbs’ first year back was a 6-10 disappointment and the second year was shaping up to be the same as the team sat at 5-6. But five straight wins to close out the season got them to a 10-6 finish and a wild card berth.

+4, 1998-1999—The 1998 team was floundering at 2-9 before winning four largely meaningless games in a row to finish at 6-10. Dan Snyder bought the Redskins prior to the 1999 season and his message to Norv Turner was that he could keep his job as long as he made the playoffs. The Redskins did just that, going 10-6 to take the NFC East.

+4, 1990-1991—The 1990 team was pretty good, going 10-6 and winning a playoff game. The 1991 Redskins were one of the best teams of all time. They won their first 11 games, finished 14-2 and steamrolled to the last Super Bowl title.

Note: The Redskins did go from eight wins in 1982 to 14 in 1983, an improvement of +6. However, that ’82 season was shortened to nine games due to a players strike so it’s an uneven comparison.

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—It’s been 146 days since the Redskins played a game; it will be 113 days until they play the Texans in the 2014 season opener.

Days until: OTAs 3; Training camp starts 68; Redskins @ Eagles 124



  1. colorofmyskinz - May 23, 2015 at 7:32 AM

    Again nice post! I will be surprise to see anything above 7 – 9. A winning season at 9 – 7 would be a huge win for this team. If the defense had prevented 7 less points per game last year we would have won 7 instead of 4, just by defensive improvement. I think our defense is 7 points per game better this year by talent alone. It really depends on if our new DC Joe can organize the better talent. And if our Oline does truly have 2 to 3 new starters, we could have another great improvement. Special teams is a real sore spot. We have to improve there Bigtime. That is what Gibbs did so well. I am still not sold on forbath as a kickoff specialist that can create touch backs. That is a huge problem. Where the ball begins the series is a huge deal and we have done nothing there. Starting on the 35 vs the 20 is a major deal. Got to fix special teams. Hoping for 7-9.

    • ET - May 23, 2015 at 3:55 PM

      I’m hoping for +4. With the recent additions, including coaching staff, 8-8 seems like it could be in reach. At this point, a .500 season would make most fans very happy.

  2. Kyle Williams - May 23, 2015 at 8:06 AM

    Hey Rich. I see a 4 game turnaround this year to be 8-8. No playoffs but a showing of promise. If RG can get back to his rookie form, albeit from the pocket this time, could swing 6 games and sneak into the playoffs. Always enjoy following you and thanks for all you do. Enjoy your vacation and stop by Sunset Grille in Duck on your way to Corolla… drinks on the island!!

    • Rich Tandler - May 23, 2015 at 1:03 PM

      Thanks, Kyle. We hit the Sunset Grill every year, we’ll be there on Monday.

      • papi18 - May 24, 2015 at 2:41 PM

        Everything starts with defense… look at Seattle Russell Wilson threw 4 picks in the nfc championship game an they still 1…Washington defense couldn’t stop a nose bleed last year..not only that the oline gave up 58 sacks and almost every other play rg3 was getting up off the turf…Brady and manning isn’t that gd wither when they are pressured

  3. berniebernard666 - May 23, 2015 at 9:20 AM

    Well if we are talking about year to year improvements…how bout THIS year:

    this is the time of year when every free agent signing is projected to the pro bowl and every rookie is believed to be rookie of the year candidate. LOL We have all done that before but of course the losing has tarnished our optimistic belief system a bit……HOWEVER……with that said……

    I can see the Skins defense going from poor to really really good if Joe Barry is willing to bring more than 4 pass rushers and if he teaches better blitzes than Jim Haslett’s delayed blitzes which everyone could see from 6 miles away.

    Also I can see the special teams getting MUCH better, especially the return game, as the Skins drafted 5 guys with special teams in mind. HALF the draft was dedicated to special teams.

    and yes, not to sound like Nostradamus, but I predict the Skins run game will get back into the top 5, due to 4 factors: Sherff, Bill Callahan, Matt Jones, and the greatly increased competition and fear factor built into this years group of offensive linemen.

    But of course the most improved team has to result from the most improved QB play. So regardless of all the other improvements, a 6 win improvement to 10-6 would have to come mainly from better QB play. We had horrible and inconsistent QB play in 2014 so if we get one QB for all 16 games and cut the sacks in half that should help. It will also help to cut the interceptions and increase the TD passes. 18-18 is not a good ratio. 22 TD’s to 12 int’s would be a winning season.

    All this is possible. A good deal is likely. The QB play is the wildcard.

  4. Skulb - May 23, 2015 at 9:41 AM

    So basically all they have to do is repeat the +18 turnover ratio from 1991 and we`re golden. Oh and also lead the NFL in scoring and be second in points allowed. Piece of cake!

  5. ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - May 23, 2015 at 10:19 AM

    Have a great Memorial Day weekend, Rich!

  6. sidepull - May 23, 2015 at 11:14 AM

    Lot of “ifs” in some of those comments.

    An old sports radio announcer some of you may remember, Ken Beatrice, had a habit of saying something to the effect of ” If candy and nuts were ifs, ands, and buts, oh what a world it would be….

    They have definitely made some changes. Hope for the best.

  7. James McFullan - May 23, 2015 at 1:00 PM

    With the addition of arguably the best oline coach in the NFL and possible 2 or 3 new starters on the oline plus a new power runner the rushing yards should increase while the sacks decrease. Plus a new and very good return specialist. And not to forget, the addition of perhaps the best nose tackle in the NFL, Pot Roast, but also the addition of Paea, Preston Smith, Chris Culliver, Dashon Goldson, and Jeron Johnson and the defense should do well against both the run and the pass which would limit the scoring

  8. mr.moneylover - May 23, 2015 at 5:21 PM

    People say the team go as far as your QB take you but I say the O-line and D-line can take a team as far as they want because just think about it the center gotta snap the ball to start the play without turning it over and the rest of the O-line gotta block without getting a hold penalty and they gotta create holes for the running back…then D-line gotta get to the QB if you dont you will lose plain and simple ….if everybody dont do they job it become more harder and makes the QB look worst…redskins upgrade both lines so ill be shock and disappointed if they come out flat like they did last year in week 1

  9. tralfaz10 - May 23, 2015 at 6:02 PM

    I see +5 with most of the wins coming early in the season. Lots of turnover but for the better. I will take 9-7.

  10. kenlinkins - May 23, 2015 at 7:29 PM

    I’LL wait until the preseason to start thinking about how many wins the Redskins can get in 2015. If I had to pick one thing to measure I would be looking at RG3 to see if his “jump” is back in his set up on passing plays. Back in 2012 and 2013, RG3 would “jump” into his throwing motion, planting the back foot and driving the ball down field. In 2014 (when he wasn’t running for his life or ducking flying D-Linemen) he never did seem to get that back foot down, due IMO to his not trusting his eyes or maybe still typing to read the defense from the pocket (fear of making a mistake?) after turning his back to the defense on play action. Even on straight drop back plays or semi roll outs, RG3 seemed to delay starting his throwing motion and lobbed many of his pass’s flat footed (if at all). RG3 looked like a lost rookie QB. (Hint to head coach Gruden: getting mad at your rookie QB and showing your mistrust doesn’t help!). RG3’s play is the key to a faster turn around and watching for that “jump” in his passing motion will tell me early where RG3 is in understanding what is required of him. If RG3 can get over the fear of mistakes and if his new QB coach can get RG3’s head on straight, and if coach Gruden can support him early while RG3 is showing progress, the Redskins could make some noise early in 2015. That’s a lot of if’s, but little things can start a domino effect and that “jump” returning would signal an important change has happened!

    • brucefan1 - May 23, 2015 at 7:48 PM

      Nice post, ken

  11. manchild157 - May 24, 2015 at 10:36 AM

    I’m not sold on anyone being able to improve Griffin’s qb play but himself. +2 in wins is all I can give my team. Poor qb play and injuries can nullify any improvements in the win column. Improved qb play and relatively healthy roster could catapult us to +4. Archives

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