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 »This Week in History
Washington Redskins
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL

  Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel | Player Wire

  UNIT-BY-UNIT ANALYSIS:



QUARTERBACKS:
Starter Kirk Cousins (UFA). Backups Colt McCoy (UFA), Robert Griffin III.

The Redskins entered the season hoping Griffin was ready to show the improvement they needed to see. Instead, he probably has played his last game for them. Cousins was named the starter late in training camp and thrived after a shaky start. He played all 16 games and finished the final 10 with 23 touchdown passes and only three interceptions. The organization needs to sign Cousins to a long-term deal, however, or apply its Franchise tag to him. If not, Cousins can test the open market. McCoy would not rule out returning in a back-up role.



RUNNING BACKS:
Starter Alfred Morris (UFA). Backups Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Pierre Thomas (UFA), *Silas Redd, FB Darrel Young (UFA).

Morris has been a mainstay for the Redskins since his breakout rookie season in 2012. But it's also hard to ignore three consecutive years of declining numbers. Jones has a nice rookie year, but missed several games because of various ailments and fumbled four times. Thompson grabbed the third-down back role and stayed relatively, healthy. Thomas was a nice late-season veteran addition. Young has been a valuable special teams player since 2010, but is rarely featured in the offense.



TIGHT ENDS:
Starter Jordan Reed. Backups *Niles Paul, *Logan Paulsen (UFA), Alex Smith (UFA), Marcel Jensen, *Derek Carrier.

This unit was decimated even before training camp ended with Paul, who was actually named the starter over Reed, and Paulsen sustaining season-ending injuries. Carrier was acquired via trade and made it to Week 14 before going on Injured Reserve himself. The Redskins tried to fill the void with Smith, a veteran familiar with Jay Gruden's system, among others. But they didn't need much beyond Reed, who was brilliant with 87 receptions and 11 touchdowns. He was a Pro Bowl alternate and probably deserved better. And while he still missed two games, the Redskins will take that every time given Reed's checkered injury history.



WIDE RECEIVERS:
Starters DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon. Backups Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross, *Andre Roberts.

Jackson was a force once he finally healed from a Week 1 hamstring injury. He appeared in the final nine games and caught 30 passes for 528 yards and four touchdowns. He had four catches of 40 yards or more. Garcon has dropped off from his league-high of 113 catches in 2013, but that's probably a good thing with a more balanced attack. He played at about the same level as 2014 (68 receptions) with 72 catches for 777 yards, but had six touchdowns. Rookie Jamison Crowder had 59 receptions and took over as the starter at slot receiver for veteran Andre Roberts.



OFFENSIVE LINEMEN:
Starters LT Trent Williams, *LG Shawn Lauvao, C Kory Lichtensteiger, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses. Backups T/TE Tom Compton, C/G Josh LeRibeus (UFA), LT Ty Nseke, LG Spencer Long, LG Arie Kouandjio.

Youth carried the Redskins at this position along with Trent Williams, a team leader and now four-time Pro Bowler at left tackle. Lichtensteiger was hurt from Week 6 on, but returned for the playoffs. LeRibeus filled in. Lauvao had surgery on the torn ankle ligaments that ended his season in Week 3 and later foot surgery that will need a few more months of rehabilitation. Scherff, the No. 5 pick in the 2015 draft, was generally solid as a rookie. Moses had penalty issues, but also took a step forward as a starter at right tackle. Long filled in for Lauvao at left guard.



DEFENSIVE LINEMEN:
Starters LDE Chris Baker, NT Terrance Knighton (UFA), RDE Jason Hatcher. Backups *DE Stephen Paea, DE Ricky Jean Francois, DE Kedric Golston (UFA), DE Frank Kearse (UFA).

A deep group. There was little drop off from the starters to the backups and sometimes you couldn't even tell who was who. Baker had a career year with six sacks. His best friend, Knighton, is the question mark here as an unrestricted free agent. The Redskins signed him to a cheap one-year, $4 million contract last year and he was solid as a space-eating nose tackle in the middle. He's 29 and has a history of weight problems, but it's hard to find players like Knighton. Hatcher acknowledged that he could retire, but that's far from certain. There is room here to upgrade at defensive end in the draft.



LINEBACKERS:
Starters WLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Will Compton, ILB Mason Foster (UFA), SLB Preston Smith. Backups ILB Perry Riley Jr., ILB Keenan Robinson (UFA), *SLB Junior Galette (UFA), WLB Houston Bates, ILB Carlos Fields, *ILB Adam Hayward, *SLB Jackson Jeffcoat, *ILB Martell Spaight.

The Redskins signed Kerrigan to a long-term deal over the summer. Offseason knee surgery slowed him some early, but Kerrigan still got to 9.5 sacks. There is some concern at inside linebacker, where starters Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley Jr. were displaced because of injury and ragged performance. Will Compton did a nice job late in the year in Robinson's place. But is he a full-time starter? Robinson's future is uncertain. The Redskins hold the right-of-first refusal on Galette, who insists he wants to stay. He was expected to start opposite Kerrigan before a torn Achilles tendon ended his season during training camp.



DEFENSIVE BACKS:
Starters LCB Bashaud Breeland, *RCB Chris Culliver, SS DeAngelo Hall, FS Dashon Goldson (UFA). Backups LCB Will Blackmon (UFA), RCB Quinton Dunbar, LCB Deshazor Everett, RCB Cary Williams (UFA), *FS Kyshoen Jarrett, SS Jeron Johnson.

The Redskins were decimated by injuries at cornerback almost from the start of training camp. One-game suspensions to Breeland and Culliver didn't help. The early-season addition of Blackmon helped stabilize this group and Dunbar's emergence after switching from wide receiver is tantalizing. But losing Culliver (torn ACL) on Thanksgiving crippled the depth down the stretch. Hall missed a month because of a toe injury and eventually switched to safety, where's he's likely to stay. Goldson was an invaluable addition as a veteran safety who still had something in the tank and quickly became a team leader. Jarrett, a sixth-round draft pick, was a useful, versatile piece as a rookie at corner and safety.



SPECIAL TEAMS:
K Dustin Hopkins, KOR Rashad Ross, PR Jamison Crowder, LS Nick Sundberg.

Hopkins was brought in after two games because, while accurate on field goals, Kai Forbath wasn't up to par on kickoffs. Hopkins wasn't a league leader, but 65 percent of his kickoffs went for touchbacks, which ranked 12th overall. And his field goal percentage was an excellent 89.3 percent (25-for-28). Ross had a 101-yard kick return for a touchdown in Week 3 and averaged 24.4 yards per kickoff. Crowder, a fine punt returner in college at Duke, was poor in that area as a rookie (5.3 yards per return), ranking last among 24 qualified players.


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