STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Inside Slant | Notes, Quotes | Strategy and Personnel |
Won't return: OC Sean McVay (Rams head coach); DC Joe Barry; DL coach Robb Akey; DB coach Perry Fewell; strength and conditioning coach Mike Clark.
*Asterisk indicates player that ended 2016 season on reserve.
Starter - Kirk Cousins (UFA). Backups - Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfeld.
Cousins set another franchise record for passing yards (4,917) and was third in the NFL. He had 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions, including a disastrous pick in Week 17 against the Giants as Washington was driving for the winning score and a playoff berth. The Redskins could use the franchise tag on Cousins again ($23.94 million). The other options are let him test the open market or sign him to a long-term extension. It's hard to see much common ground. McCoy didn't take a snap, but is under contract two more years. Sudfeld remains a long-term project.
Starter - Rob Kelley. Backups - Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, Mack Brown, *Keith Marshall.
Kelley supplanted Jones as the starter in late October and was lauded by coaches for his ability to avoid negative runs and break tackles. He also did not fumble. Jones fumbled twice, including near the goal line in a 20-17 loss at Detroit that cost the Redskins a playoff spot. He wasn't active the final nine games. That's a disaster for a 2015 third-round draft pick and brings his future with the team into question. Thompson stayed healthy again and is an effective third-down back who holds up in pass protection despite a smaller frame. The Redskins will bring him back.
Starters - Jordan Reed. Backups - Vernon Davis (UFA), Derek Carrier, *Niles Paul.
The offense got by without Reed in midseason when he missed two games with a concussion. That's because Davis showed at age 33 he still had something left in the tank (44 catches, 583 yards, two touchdowns). The two sides are already in talks for a return. But a left shoulder separation Thanksgiving Day at Dallas proved harder for Reed to shake. He was a shell of himself down the stretch. When healthy, Reed was among the game's best (66 catches, 686 yards, six touchdowns) and he caught a touchdown pass in the season finale. But he played just 12 games.
Starters - DeSean Jackson (UFA), Pierre Garcon (UFA). Backups - Jamison Crowder, Ryan Grant, Maurice Harris, *Josh Doctson, *Reggie Diggs.
One of the NFL's deepest units is in flux. Garcon and Jackson both topped 1,000 receiving yards and are free agents. They will have plenty of suitors and neither is a lock to return. Crowder topped his fine rookie season with 67 catches and has established himself as one of the best slot receivers around. The big question is rookie first-round pick Doctson, who missed almost the entire offseason plus 14 games with a sore left Achilles tendon. Doctson is adamant that he will return to form in 2017, but won't begin training again until later in January.
Starters - LT Trent Williams, LG Shawn Lauvao, C Spencer Long, RG Brandon Scherff, RT Morgan Moses. Backups - C Kory Lichtensteiger, C John Sullivan, LT Ty Nskeke, LG Arie Kouandjio, RT Vinston Painter, *Kevin Bowen.
Williams missed four games due to a substance abuse suspension by the NFL, but still made a fifth Pro Bowl. The line was stable otherwise, but Lauvao struggled late and could be targeted to save money. Scherff made the Pro Bowl in his second season and Long struggled to adjust to center for the first time. Moses also made strides in his third season. Nsekhe played well in Williams' place and will be a restricted free agent. The run blocking wasn't always up to par, but the offensive line held up in pass protection. Cousins was only sacked 23 times, fourth-fewest in the NFL.
Starters - LDE Chris Baker (UFA), NT Ziggy Hood (UFA), DE Ricky Jean Francois. Backups - NT Matt Ioannidis, DE Cullen Jenkins (UFA), *NT Kedric Golston (UFA), *DE Anthony Lanier.
The Redskins desperately need more young talent on the defensive line. No one demanded double teams here - even Baker, who has 9.5 sacks over the last two seasons. At 29, they might not want to pay him. Hood was serviceable and Jenkins helped as a late signing in training camp. But look for the Redskins to target a bigger free agent here to help. Lanier showed promise as an undrafted rookie while Ioannidis, a 2016 fifth-round pick, didn't even make the team out of camp before signing to the practice squad and eventually seeing snaps late in the year.
Starters - WLB Ryan Kerrigan, ILB Will Compton, ILB Mason Foster, SLB Preston Smith. Backups - ILB Su'a Cravens, ILB Martrell Spaight, OLB Trent Murphy, OLB Lynden Trail, ILB Terence Garvin, ILB Zach Vigil, *SLB Junior Galette (UFA), *WLB Houston Bates, *ILB Steven Daniels.
Not a ton of speed at inside linebacker, though Foster really played well late in the year and Compton is a smart, instinctive player. The Redskins could look to upgrade here. Kerrigan battled through elbow, knee and finger injuries late, but made the Pro Bowl with 11 sacks. Murphy was supposed to switch to defensive end, but the season-ending injury to Galette (Achilles tendon) pushed him back to linebacker, where he had a nice year with nine sacks. Washington needs more from its pass rush. Smith (4.5 sacks) was a disappointment and needs to make strides entering his third year.
Starter - LCB Josh Norman, RCB Bashaud Breeland, SS Duke Ihenacho, FS Will Blackmon. Backups - RCB Quinton Dunbar, LCB Greg Toler, SS Deshazor Everett, FS Josh Evans, Slot CB Kendall Fuller, Slot CB Dashaun Phillips, *SS DeAngelo Hall, SS *Donte Whitner.
Norman's addition stabilized the cornerback group. Who knows where Washington would be if it hadn't signed him out of nowhere in April when Carolina rescinded its franchise tag offer. Week after week Norman did battle with the best receivers in the NFL. Fuller, the 2016 third-round pick, struggled as the slot corner, but still shows promise. Bashaud Breeland had an up-and-down year opposite Norman, but plays fearless. Safety needs to be overhauled completely. The Redskins will move Su'a Cravens, a 2016 second-round pick who played inside linebacker as a rookie, to strong safety next season.
K Dustin Hopkins, KOR Chris Thompson, PR Jamison Crowder, LS Nick Sundberg (UFA).
Hopkins is still a touchback machine on kickoffs, but his accuracy on field goals suffered in 2016 (34-for-42) and his 34-yard overtime miss in London played a huge role in the Cincinnati game ending tied. He also missed three extra points. Crowder went from one of the worst punt returners in the NFL as a rookie to third (12.1 yards per return) with an 85-yard touchdown in Week 3 vs. the Giants. He was a Pro Bowl alternate. Sundberg has been a reliable presence at long snapper since 2010, but a late-season back injury hampered his performance.