Each week during the 2016 NFL season theHogs.net will bring you the pregame press from the opponent’s perspective. As there is already discussion of the opening game, here is what is being said thus far:
The Redskins finished the 2015 season with a 9-7 record, which was good enough to capture the NFC East Division title and a home playoff game. They were promptly booted from the playoffs by the Green Bay Packers, yet hopes are high in the nation’s capital that the team will return to the playoffs for a second consecutive season. The last time the Redskins made the playoffs in consecutive seasons was way back in 1990, ’91, and ’92.
The organization certainly isn’t resting on last year’s accomplishments, as they made several moves during the off-season to help them improve.
The biggest move was franchising quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins enters his fifth season, and his second as the team’s full-time starting signal caller. Many criticized the Redskins’ brass for selecting him with their fourth pick in the 2012 draft, right after taking RGIII second overall in the same draft.
However, RGIII’s career has fizzled quickly and the organization appears all the wiser for picking Cousins.
What’s more, Cousins is rapidly developing into one of the better quarterbacks in the league. His career passer rating is 91.3, and last season he threw for 4166 yards and 29 touchdowns.
Cousins’ efficiency could pose some problems for the re-tooled Steelers secondary. Given that this matchup takes place on the NFL’s opening weekend, chances are the Steelers defense won’t have worked out all the kinks.
Possibly compounding the issue is the Redskins formidable wide receiver corps. Leading the way is DeSean Jackson, who’s got plenty of speed and big play ability. Last season, he averaged 17.6 yards/catch. His achilles heel, however, has been his durability. He missed several games last season, but should be in top health for the opener.
In addition to Jackson, the offense also features Pierre Garcon and Jamison Crowder. Both are highly productive receivers. Garcon has averaged nearly 70 catches and 750 yards over the last two years, while Crowder caught 59 passes for 604 yards in 2015, his first in the NFL.
The team also drafted Josh Doctson from TCU with their first pick in this year’s draft.
The Redskins’ running game doesn’t pose as big a threat, but they do have some capable backs in Matt Jones and Chris Thompson. According to The Washington Post, Jones is “a big, physical runner who coaches hope continues to learn how to use his size (6 feet 1, 231 pounds) to his advantage. Chris Thompson is a smaller (5-8, 193), shiftier back who provides both a good change of pace as a runner, and a receiving threat out of the backfield.”
There’s a good chance the Steelers will need to simply outscore the ‘Skins in order to beat them. Can they do it? It would appear so, based on numbers from last season. The Redskins’ defense, while average in total points allowed per game (17th in the league, 23.7 points/game), ranked near the bottom of the league in passing yards allowed per game (258 yards, ranked 25th), rushing yards allowed per game (122.6 yards, ranked 26th), and total yards allowed per game (380.6 yards, ranked 28th).
Like the Steelers, the Redskins have taken steps to try and improve their defense, particularly the secondary, through free agency and the draft. The team signed strong safety David Bruton Jr. from the Super Bowl champion Broncos, and added safety Su’a Cravens from USC with their 2nd pick in the draft and cornerback Kendall Fuller from Virginia Tech in the third round. They’ll join 13-year veteran, DeAngelo Hall, who’s making a switch from corner to safety.
They’ve also added depth along the defensive line and linebacking unit.
The Bottom Line:
As with the Steelers, Washington’s defense may also be experiencing some glitches that the pre-season will not have fixed. Even with Martavis Bryant sidelined for the season, Ben Roethlisberger and company should be able to exploit the weaknesses. The same could happen for Kirk Cousins against the Steelers defense, however. Before it’s over, there’s a good chance that this opening Monday night matchup will be a high-scoring affair.
And don’t forget, our own Deadskins will bring you “The Loser Papers” following each Redskins victory.
Ten Day Edition, in case you missed anything.
The Washington Post reports Redskins LG Shawn Lauvao (foot, ankle) is expected to be ready for training camp.
Matt Jones is practicing with a football which emits a warning signal if he does not apply pressure to every key point.
DeSean Jackson was on the field for practice Monday.
Rich Tandler of CSN Mid-Atlantic says the Redskins are being “ultra-cautious” with first-round WR Josh Doctson (foot).
Redskins signed third-round CB Kendall Fuller to a four-year contract.
Matt Jones wants to show he is “capable of being a No. 1 back all the time.”
Redskins undrafted WR Reggie Diggs underwent a knee scope and will be sidelined until training camp.
First-round WR Josh Doctson “hurt his foot” Tuesday and will be sidelined at least one week.
Redskins TE Niles Paul has bulked up to 250 pounds.
DeSean Jackson forfeited a $500,000 workout bonus by skipping OTAs.
ESPN Redskins reporter John Keim said “there’s little incentive” for Kirk Cousins to sign a long-term deal unless Washington meets his asking price.
Redskins third-round CB Kendall Fuller (microfracture surgery) has been cleared for team drills.
Kirk Cousins thinks first-round WR Josh Doctson can be “a great weapon in the red zone.”
Kirk Cousins said he expects 2015 fourth-round WR Jamison Crowder to make a sophomore jump.
Redskins ILB Perry Riley (foot) is still in a walking boot.
So, you’re a Skins fan with visions of touchdowns dancing in your head. All you’ve been thinking about since the draft is how many extra towels you’ll need to wipe up the drool over the potential of this 2016 Washington offense. After all, unless Kirk Cousins completely regresses it seems unfathomable the passing offense could not be highly successful. Desean Jackson is healthy. The virtually non-productive Andre Roberts has been replaced by the perhaps not-so-surprisingly productive Jamison Crowder. Teams can no longer double Garcon, whose production suffered as a result of a lack of a depleted receiving corps. Ryan Grant, who had 23 receptions last season is ostensibly 5th on the depth chart. Speedster Rashad Ross is 6th. The tight end situation has been taken from dire to delicious with not only the return of a healthy Niles Paul but also the signing of Vernon Davis. The position is solidified to such extent Logan Paulsen may be fighting for a roster spot. To be perfectly frank, we have a split decision on newly anointed starter Matt Jones at running back. There really isn’t much history upon which to base a substantive opinion. For the purposes of projecting numbers reason dictates Jones will see at least the same number of carries primary back Alfred Morris saw last season, possibly more. Certainly the backs in combination will see many opportunities and with a healthy and revamped offensive line it is reasonable to expect at least marginal improvement to meet the league rushing average per carry.
Considerable deliberate thought and careful consternation were given to the following projections based upon not only last season but also taking into account the roster changes for the 2016 NFL season. The figures are intended to be reasonable and attainable based only upon each individual remaining healthy for the full season. If your first inclination is to balk at the numbers for Cousins my first inclination is to remind you he’s playing on the franchise tag for a contract at the time of this writing and nothing should lead anyone to believe he will not perform under those circumstances. Quod erat demonstrandum
400 completions (67%)
6.0% TD Percentage
2.0% Interception Percentage
The Redskins’ wide receivers group is receiving national attention:
Jamison Crowder is likely to be a big part of the Redskins’ offense:
Spencer Long is working at both center and left guard:
Shaun Lauvao is healthy and has not been ruled out as the starter at left guard:
David Bruton is ahead of Duke Ihenacho at strong safety:
Will Blackmon is playing behind Deangelo Hall at free safety:
Su’a Cravens continued to work exclusively at second-team inside linebacker for a second straight week. Eventually, he will expand his duties to play some safety and some nickelback:
UDFA Robert Kelley just might’ve looked like the best running back out there today (Wednesday) according to Matt Jones and Randy Jordan:
Kelley is a player we at THN have been touting since his signing. Watch the highlight video he made and posted on YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XrndMLIop3s
Steven Bowen Retires As A Redskin:
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It’s a little slow in the way of Redskins news for the next two months so if you’re looking forward to the 2016 season, and we know you are, you can look for a variety of ways to keep your desktop or mobile device hailing to the Washington Redskins between now and September as well as the usual exclusive content for which you’ve come to trust the site.