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NFL countdown: Washington starts over with coach

This is the second in a series of 32 NFL team betting previews in 32 days leading up to the league’s Sept. 10 season opener. We’ll count down the teams from the lowest season win total to the highest.

No NFL team is dealing with more turmoil than the Washington Football Team.

The Washington Post exposed a long history of allowing sexual harassment to fester in the organization, leading to the departure of two front office members and the team’s longtime play-by-play announcer, Larry Michael.

Promising second-year running back Derrius Guice was released Friday following his arrest on domestic violence charges.

And there’s the fact that the team is now called, for at least this season, the Washington Football Team, as the franchise finally agreed to ditch its Redskins moniker after decades of criticism that the name is offensive to Native Americans.

There’s plenty on new coach Ron Rivera’s plate as he tries to stabilize the organization before he even gets on the field. Once he’s there, he has to try to improve a team that went 3-13 last season and has a major question mark at quarterback.

Sunset Station sportsbook director Chuck Esposito isn’t too optimistic.

“They haven’t trended upward in a long time,” he said, “and I don’t see that changing.”

Esposito and Westgate sportsbook vice president of risk Ed Salmons said they do like the hiring of Rivera, who was fired late last year by the Carolina Panthers after eight-plus solid seasons, including a Super Bowl trip.

“He’s a professional head coach,” Salmons said.

Rivera’s most important task will be evaluating second-year quarterback Dwayne Haskins, who mostly struggled as a rookie. The No. 15 overall pick in 2019 out of Ohio State completed 58.6 percent of his passes for 1,365 yards with seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in nine games (seven starts) last season.

Haskins ranked last (34th) among qualified quarterbacks in Football Outsiders’ advanced QB stat DYAR.

“He was terrible in the beginning, then he got a little better,” Salmons said. “They owe him this year to see if he can be the guy or not.”

Rivera has said Haskins will compete for the job with Kyle Allen, who started 12 games for Rivera last season in Carolina. Allen ranked 33rd in the DYAR metric.

Washington’s defense should get a boost from No. 2 overall pick Chase Young, a defensive end from Ohio State.

Still, Esposito said it’s difficult to see Washington making a big leap.

“I just don’t see them being better than the three teams above them,” he said, referring to Dallas, Philadelphia and the New York Giants in the NFC East.

Salmons said the public has mostly bet Washington under its win total of 5, but one optimistic bettor did bet $500 on Washington to win the Super Bowl at 300-1.

Contact Jim Barnes at jbarnes@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0277. Follow @JimBarnesLV on Twitter.

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