Since free agency opened March 11, front offices around the league have been busy retooling rosters and getting ready for next season. Here at CSNWashington.com, we’ve kept a watchful eye on the moves made by teams who appear on the Redskins’ 2014 schedule.
So who’s gotten better? Who’s gotten worse? Let’s take a closer look.
Up today …
Opponent/location: Vikings/University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium.
2013 record: (5-10-1, last place in the NFC North).
Key additions: DT Linval Joseph (Giants), CB Captain Munnerlyn (Panthers), CB Derek Cox (Chargers), DT Corey Wootton (Bears), LB Jasper Brinkley (Cardinals), DT Tom Johnson (Saints).
Key losses: DE Jared Allen (unsigned), DT Kevin Williams (unsigned), QB Josh Freeman (unsigned), LB Erin Henderson (unsigned), LB Marvin Mitchell (unsigned), TE John Carlson (Cardinals), CB Chris Cook (49ers), DT Letroy Guion (Packers), RB Toby Gerhart (Jaguars), OT J’Marcus Webb (unsigned) and QB/WR Joe Webb (Panthers).
Best move: Signing Joseph, who was rated as the second best defensive tackle on the market, according to Rotoworld. And Joseph, at 25, is entering his prime.
The bottom line: In 2013, the Vikings’ defense ranked last in points allowed (30.0), second to last in yards allowed (397.6) and was growing older and slower by the minute.
So GM Rick Spielman hired former Bengals defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer as head coach, then were aggressive in free agency. In fact, the first six signings were on the defensive side of the ball. The biggest names, of course, are Joseph and Munnerlyn. The addition of Joseph and Munnerlyn, both of whom are 25, to defensive end Everson Griffen, who’s 26, gives the Vikes the beginnings of a better (and younger) foundation on defense.
On offense, though, the plan sounds like a familiar one: ask star running back (Adrian Peterson) to carry to load and an unexceptional quarterback (Matt Cassel) not to lose the game. Perhaps new offensive coordinator Norv Turner can squeeze a little more from Minnesota's 13th-ranked offense.
So, are the Vikings an improved team? If the defense can just improve from terrible to merely okay, then yeah, they probably are.
When the Redskins visited Minnesota last November, they managed to blow a 13-point second half lead en route to a hope-crushing 34-27 loss inside the climate controlled Metrodome. When Washington travels there this fall, the game will be played outdoors at University of Minnesota’s TCF Bank Stadium, possibly increasing the visitors' degree of difficulty.