STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
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OLB Ryan Kerrigan became the first Redskins player to start every game in his first seven seasons. He reached 13 sacks for the second time in his career.
DE Anthony Lanier's extra-point block in the season finale against the Giants was Washington's first since 2007.
QUARTERBACKS (B): Starter - Kirk Cousins (UFA). Backup - Colt McCoy.
Cousins wasn't quite as sharp as he was in 2015 or 2016, though the drop-off wasn't steep. He had 27 touchdowns and 13 interceptions. The passing yards (4,093) were down and so was the completion percentage (64.3 percent). Cousins paid the price for an injury-ravaged offensive line as sacks jumped from 23 to 41. Rather than experience more contract questions, the Redskins acquired Alex Smith from the Chiefs.
RUNNING BACKS (C-minus): Starter - *Rob Kelley. Backups - Samaje Perine, *Chris Thompson, *Byron Marshall, *Keith Marshall, *LeShun Daniels, Kapri Bibbs, Dare Ogunbowale.
A unit ravaged by injuries with five players landing on injured reserve. Thompson became a force and led Washington in rushing yards (294) and receiving yards (510) when he broke his leg in Week 11. He produced 804 yards of offense in 10 games with six touchdowns. Kelley (3.1 yards per carry) was a slight disappointment before his knee injury in Week 8. The load fell on Perine (603 yards, 3.4 yards per carry), a rookie who wasn't quite ready and had just one run over 20 yards in 175 attempts. Perine also fumbled twice.
TIGHT ENDS (B-minus): Starter - *Jordan Reed. Backups - Vernon Davis, Niles Paul (UFA), Jeremy Sprinkle, Manasseh Garner.
The offense runs through Reed and without him it was a struggle just to put together a mid-level unit. A toe injury in training camp led to a hamstring strain during the regular season. Reed also missed time with a chest contusion. He played in just six games and in two of those saw 21 or fewer snaps. Davis had his best season since 2013 (69 catches, 648 yards, three touchdowns) to minimize the loss, but he slowed toward season's end. Sprinkle, a rookie, had almost no offensive impact, but his presence will likely push out Paul, the special teams captain.
WIDE RECEIVERS (C): Starters - *Terrelle Pryor (UFA), Josh Doctson, Jamison Crowder. Backups - Ryan Grant (UFA), Brian Quick (UFA), Maurice Harris, Robert Davis.
A transition year after DeSean Jackson (Tampa Bay) and Pierre Garcon (San Francisco) left. It didn't work out as well as hoped. Pryor was a bust. He hurt his ankle in Week 2, never developed chemistry with Cousins and didn't play after Week 10. He isn't expected back. Doctson (35 catches, 508 yards) showed signs of progress. He had six touchdowns and averaged 14.3 yards per catch, but had some key drops. Crowder (66 catches, 789 yards, three touchdowns) was again one of the NFL's most productive slot receivers. The savvy, consistent Grant (45 catches, 573 yards, four touchdowns) had career-best numbers in a contract year.
OFFENSIVE LINEMEN (B-minus): Starters - LT *Trent Williams, LG *Shawn Lauvao (UFA), C *Spencer Long (UFA), RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses. Backups - C Chase Roullier, LT Ty Nskeke, LG Arie Kouandjio, G Tyler Catalina, G Kyle Kalis, C Tony Bergstrom, C Demetrius Rhaney, T *Kevin Bowen, T T.J. *Clemmings.
A solid group entering the season with five returning starters, including two Pro Bowlers, and a fine swing tackle in Nsekhe. Instead, disaster struck. Williams hurt his right knee on Oct. 2 and missed four of eight games in the second half before going on injured reserve. Long played one full game after Week 7 and Lauvao was done after Week 11. Even Nsekhe missed four games. Roullier gained experience as a starter. If he re-signs, Long could shift from center to left guard to replace Lauvao. Williams and Scherff again made the Pro Bowl. This remains a stable unit.
DEFENSIVE LINEMEN (C-minus): Starters - LDE Matt Ioannidis, NT Stacy McGee (UFA), RDE *Jonathan Allen. Backups - DE *Phil Taylor, Sr. (UFA), NT Ziggy Hood, DE Terrell McClain, DE Anthony Lanier, DE A.J. Francis, T *Arthur Jones
Allen was a godsend until he sustained a Lisfranc sprain in Week 8 and was lost for the season. The rookie fell to No. 17 in the draft because of concerns over possible arthritic shoulders and just happened to be at the exact position the Redskins needed the most help. There is still work to be done here, but the youth overhaul continues. Ioannidis (4.5 sacks) and Lanier (five sacks) both made impacts in their second seasons. Ioannidis missed two games with a broken right hand. Lanier got his chance when injuries struck in the second half of the season.
LINEBACKERS (C): Starters - WLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Zach Brown (UFA), ILB *Mason Foster, SLB Preston Smith. Backups - ILB *Will Compton (UFA), ILB Martrell Spaight, OLB *Trent Murphy (UFA), OLB Ryan Anderson, ILB Zach Vigil, SLB Junior Galette (UFA), ILB Josh Harvey-Clemons, ILB Otha Peters, OLB Pete Robertson, OLB *Chris Carter (UFA)
The Redskins hit big on Brown, who upgraded their speed at inside linebacker and led the NFL in tackles for much of the season. Now they have to re-sign him. Washington missed the smart Foster (shoulder), who was never right after a Week 2 injury and was on IR by Week 8, and Compton (Lisfranc sprain), a former starter hurt in Week 10. Murphy tore his ACL in the preseason. All four of those players are free agents. Kerrigan (13 sacks) was his usual productive self and Smith (eight sacks, two interceptions) returned to the productive player he had been as a rookie in 2015.
DEFENSIVE BACKS (C-plus): Starters - LCB Josh Norman, RCB Bashaud Breeland (UFA), FS D.J. Swearinger, SS *Su'a Cravens. Backups - RCB Quinton Dunbar, LCB Fabian Moreau, SS Deshazor Everett, SS *Montae Nicholson, FS DeAngelo Hall (UFA), Slot CB Kendall Fuller, FS Fish Smithson, RCB Josh Holsey.
Teams again were reluctant to throw at Norman, a Pro-Bowl alternate. Breeland is an up-and-down player and the Redskins will have to decide if he's worth re-signing. Fuller (four interceptions) had an excellent season as a nickel corner. Swearinger (four interceptions, one forced fumble) provided everything Washington needed when it signed him to stabilize the safety position, including a vocal leader in the locker room. But Cravens' puzzling decision to ponder retirement just before the regular season and the team's move to put him on the reserve/left squad list leaves his future in doubt. Nicholson showed flashes of potential, but played just half the season.
SPECIAL TEAMS (C): K Dustin Hopkins (UFA), KOR *Chris Thompson, PR Jamison Crowder, LS Nick Sundberg, P Tress Way.
Hopkins might have some competition in training camp next summer. He missed eight games with a hip injury and replacement Nick Rose made 10-of-11 field goals, including a 55-yarder. But Hopkins made 14 of 17 himself, including four of five beyond 40 yards. Way was 13th in gross punting average (45.7 yards per kick) and tied for third in punts inside the 20 (33). Crowder muffed three punts and dropped to 22nd (6.6 yards per return) after finishing third in 2016. No Redskins return man took a kickoff beyond 35 yards. Sundberg has been a reliable presence at long snapper since 2010.
OVERALL GRADE (C-minus): The Redskins are 24-23-1 since 2015 with an NFC East title, but hovering around .500 won't be good enough for long even if the schedule was the NFL's toughest and injuries hit hard. Washington needs more depth.
*Asterisk indicates player ended 2017 season on injured reserve.