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.
Yeah, yeah, yeah… before you even start, I did this graphic up to pay homage to Sean Taylor, not to exploit him or his good name.
After all, not only is Taylor a favorite of many-to-most Redskins fans, he was also the favorite player of the Redskins 2nd round draft pick Su’a Cravens (53rd overall).
Click on the image for a 1280×800 wallpaper sized version.
Cravens wore number 21 at USC.
It’s not likely Cravens will actually ever see himself in the number 21 of the burgundy and gold – nor will anyone else – so I hope there’s no feathers ruffled with a little bit of Photoshop manipulation to show what it would look like.
The composite uses Sean’s jersey AND pads, and then there is just helmet accents laid over top of the USC helmet. Yeah sure, there are some quirky bits, but it’s just for some burgundy and gold fun. See both images below to see where the composite came from.
Send all complaints to 1-800-EAT-SH… oh, nevermind.
More about Cravens’ pre-NFL days here.
You can actually reach me on Twitter @TheHogsdotNet.
Hail. To the Redskins. To Su’a. And especially to Sean. May he rest in peace.
And just because there is never not a good reason to post this, the original Sean Taylor Tribute wallpaper:
Yes, it’s early. Too early. The FNGs haven’t even been dragged through the week that is rookie camp yet. Furthermore, anyone who witnessed the last two Washington Redskins drafts knows it’s impossible to read the mind of Scot McCloughan. The first person who says they saw the Brandon Scherff pick last season or the Josh Doctson pick this season coming before it happened is the first liar. So, admittedly, this is spitting into the wind. Nevertheless, it’s the off-season and a) a Skins fan always needs something Skins to talk about, and b) trying to break in and get a feel for what draws interest during the season seems like a would-be exercise in futility. With that in mind …
Quarterbacks (3) – Kirk Cousins, Colt McCoy, Nate Sudfield.
Running Backs (4) – Matt Jones, Keith Marshall, Pierre Thomas, Rob Kelley.
Tight Ends (3) – Jordan Reed, Niles Paul, Vernon Davis.
Wide Receivers (6) – DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson, Ryan Grant, Rashad Ross.
Tackles (3) – Trent Williams, Morgan Moses, Ty Nsekhe.
Guards (4) – Brandon Scherff, Spencer Long, Shawn Lauvao, Arie Kouandjio.
Centers (2) – Korey Lichtensteiger, Austin Reiter.
And the Defense …
Defensive Ends (4) – Chris Baker, Stephen Paea, Kendall Reyes, Ricky Jean-Francois.
Defensive Tackles (3) – Kedric Golston, Jerrell Powe, Matthew Ioannidis.
Inside Linebackers (5) – Will Compton, Perry Riley, Mason Foster, Steven Daniels, Martrell Spaight.
Outside Linebackers (4) – Ryan Kerrigan, Preston Smith, Junior Galette, Houston Bates.
Safeties (4) – Sua Cravens, Deangelo Hall, David Bruton, Duke Ihenacho.
Cornerbacks (5) – Josh Norman, Bashaud Breeland, Will Blackmon, Quinton Dunbar, Kendall Fuller.
Kicker (1) – Dustin Hopkins.
Punter (1) – Tress Way.
Long Snapper (1) – Nick Sundberg.
When a team makes a player the highest paid player at his position for the year there are going to be high expectations. When that team is the Washington Redskins and that player is Kirk Cousins we had better like that. More importantly, Scot McCloughan had better like that or we’ll be back on the quarterback search trail. But what does Cousins have to do for Scot McCloughan to like that? There were things Cousins did exceptionally well last season. But when you’re paying a player like a top five player at his position, even if it’s on the franchise tag, he needs to perform as such. Did Cousins? Let’s take a look.
7th in Completions but outside top ten in attempts.
7th in Passing Yards Per Attempt.
5th in Passer Rating.
Outside the top ten in Interceptions.
8th in Adjusted Yards Per Pass Attempt.
7th in Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
8th in Adjusted Net Yards Per Pass Attempt.
10th in Pass Completions Per Game.
1st in Pass Completion Percentage.
7th in Sack Percentage.
8th in Game-Winning Drives.
10th in Comebacks.
2nd in Fumbles Recovered.
7th in Completions but 10th in passing yards.
Outside the top ten in Passing Attempts Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Interception Percentage.
Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdown Percentage.
Outside the top ten in Passing Touchdowns.
Outside the top ten in Passing Yards Per Game.
Outside the top ten in Yards Per Completion.
8th in Fumbles.
Outside the top ten in Total Offense.
What Cousins has to do to justify the Franchise Tag and command a long-term contract:
Cousins threw 29 touchdowns last season. The top five quarterbacks threw an average of 35 touchdowns.
Cousins’ touchdown percentage was 5.3%. The top five average was 6.5%.
Cousins’ yards per attempt was 7.7. The top five average is 8.4.
Cousins’ adjusted yards per attempt is 7.8. The top five average is 8.6.
Cousins’ yards per completion average is 11. The top five average is 13.
Cousins’ yards per game is 260.4. The top five average is 300.
Cousins’ net yards per attempt is 6.99. The top five average is 7.7.
Cousins’ adjusted net yards per attempt is 7.14. The top five average is 7.75.
Cousins’ sack percentage is 4.6. The top five average is 3.0.
One can gather from the above much improvement is expected of Kirk Cousins this season. Not only should he have better passing protection thanks to the replacement of Josh (What’s the snap count, again?) LeRibeus but he also has an additional receiving weapon in 2016 1st round draft selection Josh Doctson and another red zone target in off-season acquisition Vernon Davis. One has to assume the rushing attack will be better this season. (How could it possibly be worse?)
Cousins will be on a long leash this season because when you’re paying a player over $1.0MM per game you’re not paying him to sit on the bench. The only way he’s not playing is if he is injured. That could be good for Cousins or it could be disastrous. If he’s playing up to expectations expect him to get paid like a top five quarterback. Before complaining about the potential cost involved take a moment to remember the quarterback history of the team over the course of the last twenty-five seasons. If he’s not playing up to the level expected it’s going to be a long and painful season for him, for Scot McCloughan, who will have to begin scouting quarterbacks mid-season, for Jay Gruden whose job is balancing on Cousins’ performance, and for the fans.
The real question is: If Cousins performs marginally well, as in top ten but not top five, what does the team do? They almost certainly won’t tag Cousins again. That gets very expensive. If the Skins offer him top ten money but not top five money will he take it? Or will he take his chances on the open market? Is he really a team player? If he is, I like that.
After sitting out the previous two games with a concussion, it didn’t take long for Jordan Reed to make an impact when he returned.
Reed’s presence was obvious. Not only did he catch 11 passes for 72 yards and two touchdowns, but his last catch was the game winner in Washington’s thrilling 31-30 come-from-behind victory over the Bucs. The Redskins lined up 4 receivers left, Reed to the right, and what looked like a good position and time for a fade, turned into a quick slant for a touchdown when Reed immediately planted, went inside, and too quickly for anyone to react. Cousins hit him in stride en route to the end zone, and the Redskins polished off the biggest comeback in franchise history.
Just click on the picture for a full 1440×900 wallpaper.
Trent Williams had some pretty high praise for Reed after the game, “You show me anyone in the league who can guard that man one-on-one. I haven’t seen that yet. As long as we’ve got him, we got a chance. He’s the best receiving tight end that I’ve seen.”
Welcome back Jordan. Stay healthy.
Enjoy. Share. Hail.
Follow me on Twitter @TheHogsdotNet.
Bidoo, bidoo!! The minions and all of #RedskinsNation joined together last night to celebrate the largest comeback in Redskins history.
It looked impossible when the Redskins fell behind 24-0 before the half, but they clawed their way back – largely on the performance of Kirk Cousins, who finished the day an impressive 33 of 40 for 317 yards. He had three touchdown passes and ran for another, and didn’t turn the ball over. On the game winning two-minute drive, Captain Kirk was an unconscious 9 of 11 for 75 yards.
Cousins himself offered, “It was a good lesson: Just keep playing and you never know what can happen,”
Amen to that.
Happy Victory Monday to all of #RedskinsNation and Hail!!