One by one, ClevelandBrowns.com is breaking down each of the Browns' 2016 regular season opponents as the dog days of the offseason unfold.*
Today's preview takes the Browns to the nation's capital for a game that's already been highlighted by many national analysts as the most intriguing on Cleveland's schedule.
Who: Washington Redskins
When: Week 4 (Oct. 2, FedExField, 1 p.m.)
Series History (last meeting): 33-11-1 (Redskins 38, Browns 21 in 2012 at FirstEnergy Stadium).
The coach: Jay Gruden - 3rd season
The stakes: It will be Cleveland's fourth game of the season and already its third away from FirstEnergy Stadium. If Robert Griffin III wins the Browns' starting quarterback job and holds the position entering this contest, you can bet on all sorts of national attention being focused on this game. Griffin spent the first four seasons of his NFL career in Washington, winning Rookie of the Year in 2012 and leading the team to the playoffs.
Matchup to watch: WR Corey Coleman vs. DB Josh Norman - How's this for a "Welcome to the NFL" moment for Cleveland's first-round wide receiver? In his fourth regular season game, he'll likely be pitted against one of the league's toughest defensive backs. Norman, who was one of the best players on a dominant Carolina defense last season, essentially muted all of the receivers he guarded.
Offseason storyline: Perhaps the lack of storylines surrounding the Redskins is a sign they're in a good spot to repeat as NFC East champions. There's stability at quarterback with Kirk Cousins and the defense has been upgraded with a bona fide playmaker in Norman. TCU WR Josh Doctson is expected to upgrade a passing attack that could have used one more weapon during 2015's playoff run.
Biggest addition: Norman - Over a two-day span, Norman went from returning to Carolina on the franchise tag to signing with the Redskins on a mega deal. The Redskins were relatively quiet during the offseason to that point but couldn't pass on a player of this caliber.
Biggest loss: DT Terrance Knighton - The big man in the middle of Washington's defensive line is now with the Patriots. He started 15 games last season. Veteran Kedric Golston is among the frontrunners to fill the massive void.
The star: QB Kirk Cousins - In one season, Cousins went from a written-off backup to a potential franchise quarterback for the Redskins. He had one of the best second halves to a season of any NFL quarterback and finished the year with 4,166 yards, 29 touchdowns and just 11 interceptions.
The X-Factor: TE Jordan Reed - One of the biggest reasons why Cousins had so much success was because of Reed's productivity. Built like a big wide receiver, Reed torched opposing defenses to the tune of 87 receptions, 952 yards and 11 touchdowns. He made big plays when it mattered most, racking up three 100-yard receiving games in Washington's final five games of the season.
What makes this game tough: In one year, the Redskins built a dynamic offense that, barring a Cousins regression, should be better than last season. Washington also seems to bring its best football when it's playing in front of its home fans, as it picked up six of its nine wins at FedExField last season.
What makes them beatable: The Redskins had some issues on defense last season, and they sprang up against both the run and the pass. Washington ranked 26th in the league in rush defense and 25th against the pass. The Redskins gained Norman and return pass rusher Junior Galette, who missed all of last season with a torn Achilles, but this could be an area opponents are able to exploit when they square off against the defending NFC East champions.