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Redskins Check In At No. 12 In ESPN's 'Way-Too-Early' Rankings

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The 2016 NFL seasons may be over, but we can look ahead to what's next for the Washington Redskins in 2017.

Despite just missing the playoffs with an 8-7-1 record in 2016, the Redskins have enough young pieces in place – coupled with extensive salary cap room to help rebuild the defense and keep the offense powerful – to potentially make some noise in 2017.

In his "Way-Too-Early" power rankings for 2017, ESPN's Kevin Seifert has the Redskins checking in at No. 12.

"A clear shot at the playoffs slipped away via losses in four of the Redskins' final six games, including in Week 17 at home against the Giants, but they remain a franchise on the playoff fringe," Seifert writes. "The next step is clear. In plays of heightened importance in 2016, the Redskins weren't good enough to convert on either side of the ball. Their defense allowed the NFL's highest third-down conversion rate (46.6), and their offense ranked 29th in red zone efficiency (45.9 percent). Quarterback Kirk Cousins has thrown for 9,083 yards the past two seasons, but his Week 17 fourth-quarter interception scuttled Washington's playoff hopes."

Washington is the third highest ranked team that missed the playoffs in 2016, right behind the Denver Broncos (No. 10) and the Carolina Panthers (No. 11).

While it is only early February, the Redskins have already made significant changes and could continue to do so in the weeks that are ahead.

They've already promoted defensive coordinator Greg Manusky to man a defense that's looking to improve on a 28th-overall defensive ranking. Meanwhile, the offense could see a quarterback more comfortable under a long-term deal.

"The Redskins realized they needed a new direction on defense but wound up promoting linebackers coach Greg Manusky to replace fired defensive coordinator Joe Barry after failing to attract an external candidate," Seifert writes. "Manusky will be better off if general manager Scott McCloughan can upgrade at safety and defensive line this offseason. A long-term contract for Cousins could also smooth the nervous edge off his performances."

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