by Patrick CannonBy Patrick Cannon

WASHINGTON — A 7-25 record over the past two seasons might make it hard to believe, but these aren’t the same old Skins. The combination of no blockbuster free-agent signings, no PR nightmares in the past month — a new franchise record, and a sensible collection of draft picks, have resulted in the most respectable offseason this franchise has conducted since the early 90’s. Almost makes me want to bust out the Zubaz and dust off the Byner jersey.

It’s the NFL — no team is without a little bit of drama. Desean didn’t attend OTAs, so what? Is that really newsworthy? I think we’re splitting hairs here. Next thing you know someone will publish a story about Dan Snyder using unethical business practices.

Perhaps the achievements of D.C.’s other franchises deserve some credit, but the Redskins have largely avoided the spotlight this offseason and Training Camp starts next month. All we have asked for over the past 15+ seasons is a competitive NFL team without the soap opera antics. Are we finally headed in that direction? The 2015 season will certainly be telling.

Finally having a direction in the front office gives the Skins one less reason to botch another season. Although optimism is hard to come by when you have an unproven head coach and no certainty at the most important position on the field — see Vegas’ 6.5 projected win total for example — there are plenty of reasons to believe that 2015 will be an improvement for the Redskins.

If you have been hiding from Redskins headlines since December, now is the time to climb out of the basement. Don’t worry, this isn’t a joke, people have moved on to mocking the Browns and Tony Romo’s guarantees. 2014 is long gone, now we can focus on five 2015 Redskins acquisitions to get excited about.

Preston Smith – Smith has already earned the title of being the Skins most intriguing pick. He fits the Scot McCloughan prototype — a 6’5″, 271-pound monster of a man with 34” arms who can put his hands in the dirt or play straight up. During Scot’s post-draft presser he said that Smith might have the best hands on the team. While that statement is clearly an exaggeration, it speaks to Smith’s incredible athleticism. You know who else is 6’5” with 34” arms? J.J. Watt. No pressure, Preston.

How Joe Barry will use Smith this fall remains to be seen, but visions of Smith and Kerrigan meeting at the quarterback are already dancing in my head. Smith is an immediate improvement over Brian “What we doin’ out there, Man?” Orakpo.

Jeron Johnson – How long has it been since the Redskins at a safety they could trust? I am not buying into the Ihenacho-Johnson battle at strong safety. Whether Ihenacho fades away due to another injury, or abandons the team to open a Tex-Mex restaurant, he will not be in the conversation come September. Although Johnson’s durability remains largely untested after being buried behind the best strong safety in football (Kam Chancellor) for the first three seasons of his career, he has the tackling ability and instincts at SS that this team has lacked for years.

Further, Ihenacho is part of Bruce Allen regime. I’m all for washing our hands of nearly everything he touched as soon as possible. Scot McC went out and got Johnson knowing that Ihenacho was on the roster. Perhaps that was a move to inspire competition at the position, but I find that highly unlikely. Ihenacho can play special teams while Jeron Johnson lights up receivers crossing the middle. Scot McC’s signings to this point show that, if nothing else, the defense will improve this year.

Jamison Crowder – A presumption of innocence no longer exists when it comes to domestic violence allegations and NFL players. The despicable criminals who victimize their wives/girlfriends/family members are to blame for this, not Roger Goodell, or the media. Thus, all we can do — for the sake of the woman involved and Jamison Crowder —is hope that the allegations brought against Crowder are bogus. If they are not, please delete the following paragraph from your memory.

If you have eaten in the last half hour please do not look up who the Redskins have had returning kicks and punts the past five seasons — you will vomit. The Skins have not had a threat returning kicks since they caught lighting in a bottle with Brandon Banks in 2010. Since then they have primarily used a tight end to return kicks, before settling for Andre Roberts in 2014 — seriously.

If Crowder stays on the roster he will fill a void on the special teams that hasn’t been adequately addressed since Brian Mitchell left the team in 2000. Additionally, it doesn’t hurt to have a shifty slot receiver on the roster, especially when your quarterbacks comfort zones are five yards from the line of scrimmage.

Terrance Knighton – Who doesn’t love Pot Roast? There are so many things to love about signing this man. Here’s a brief list: 1. He is bigger than the apartment I live in. 2. We got him on a one-year “show me” deal and now he has a bone to pick with the rest of the NFL for passing over him (pun intended). 3. He usually only plays two downs — and then he needs an oxygen tank and a snack, from the crushing. 4. He and Chris Baker are BFFs and he makes Chris Baker look slim. 5. He immediately improves the pass rush, thus making everyone on the defense better. 6. People will finally start bringing beef pot roasts to tailgates, like the stuff of dreams.

Matt Jones – I love Alfred Morris, I always will. Affection aside, he’s abysmal in the red zone and has been slowly trending downward since his rookie season. The Skins needed depth at running back after Helu’s departure, but they didn’t reach or overspend for it. Getting Jones in the 3rd round was ideal. Running backs are a dime a dozen in the modern NFL.

Jones’ numbers at Florida were far from impressive, but he should feel right at home in D.C. — the Gators struggled at the QB throughout his career and teams often loaded the box to shut down the run. I am by no means ready to pass the RB1 crown to Jones, but I think his presence in the backfield — spelling Morris and handling short-yardage — will only make the running attack more dynamic. Jones is probably not be as effective in the passing game as Helu was (hopefully Silas Redd can step up), but the Redskins struggles to pound the ball into the end zone may finally be solved with their new “tough as crud” running back.

Before you call me an idiot in the comments section, please realize that Brandon Scherff was intentionally left off this list because he is a machine, not a man, and my affinity for him has already been well-documented.

Minicamp starts next week, who are you excited to see in the burgundy and gold?

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