- The Washington Times - Sunday, July 30, 2017

They were in the playoffs two years ago and just one win away last season. So why, suddenly, are the Washington Redskins the Rodney Dangerfield of the league? From predictions of last place in the NFC East to astronomical Super Bowl odds in Vegas to lame player ratings in the annual Madden video game, Washington is getting no respect.

Both USA Today and Sporting News are forecasting a basement-dwelling 5-11 season for Washington. Sports Illustrated is slightly more hopeful, at 6-10.

Preseason power rankings reflect the low expectations: Business Insider has Washington 23rd, with 60-1 odds to win the Super Bowl. ProFootballTalk was even more down on the Redskins, placing them 25th.

According to Sports Illustrated’s Jonathan Jones, the off-season firing of general manager Scot McCloughan will have drastic on-field repercussions.

“After the clown show Washington put on around the combine, I am running far away from this team,” Jones wrote back in May. “The shame of it is they have likeable players and a roster coming off two consecutive winning seasons. But that team isn’t better without Scot McCloughan as GM, and it’s going to show this season.”

ProFootballTalk’s Josh Alper also highlighted McCloughan’s departure as a glaring negative heading into the 2017 season.

“The drama that was synonymous with the franchise quieted during McCloughan’s time in Washington,” Alper wrote, “but it came back in full force with the awkwardly handled ouster of a guy who had done a lot to get the team back on track after the ugly end to the Mike Shanahan era.”

Along with his pessimistic 5-11 prediction, USA Today’s Nate Davis found the Redskins to have a below-average roster, putting them in a tie for 21st in his roster rankings with the Houston Texans.

Davis was especially hard on Washington’s defensive line, which he ranked second-worst in the entire league, only better than the Indianapolis Colts.

“Rookie Jonathan Allen could be a steal with the 17th pick,” he wrote last week. “But the ‘Skins seem perilously thin here.”

Allen, who was widely considered a top-five talent coming out of college before injury concerns hurt his draft stock, fell a lot further with the developers of the Madden NFL video game than he did with the Redskins.

EA Sports released the ratings for all the 2017 first-round picks last week, and Allen was given a 73, tied for the lowest rating among the 32 first-rounders.

The Madden developers must not have taken into account Allen’s senior season at Alabama. In 2016 alone, Allen was named the SEC Defensive Player of the Year and won the Bronko Nagurski Trophy, the Lombardi Award, and Chuck Bednarik Award.

Even established Redskins stars — like quarterback Kirk Cousins — seem to still have a lot to prove.

Pete Prisco of CBS Sports declared Cousins the most overrated player in the entire NFL.

“He’s a good quarterback, who shouldn’t be getting great quarterback money,” Prisco wrote on Tuesday. “Yes, he’s improved. Yes, he’s a top 10-15 quarterback in the league, but when you really break down his game — numbers included — is he really worth being considered the highest-paid player in the NFL? No chance.”

Prisco’s analysis comes after a strong 2016 campaign for Cousins, who finished in the top 10 among quarterbacks in many statistical categories, including completions, completion percentage, yards, passer rating, and QBR. In all of these categories, Cousins finished ahead of Oakland Raiders quarterback Derek Carr, who will be the highest paid player in the NFL this season.

Cousins — playing on a one-year contract after the Redskins balked at offering a long-term deal comparable to the one Carr signed this offseason — will have a chance, along with the rest of his lightly regarded teammates, to earn the skeptics’ respect on the field this season.

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