With the 2016 offseason about to kick into high gear, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir are going to take one last look at 2015 in the coming days. That’s right, it’s time to hand out six awards, including: Play of the Year, Coach of the Year, Special Teams Player of the Year, Rookie of the Year, Defensive Player of the Year and Offensive Player of the Year.
Defensive player of the Year
Tandler: My defensive player of the year was not supposed to be a starter. Chris Baker was listed second on the depth chart behind free agent acquisition Stephen Paea during the preseason and when the regular season started. But he didn’t accept that and worked his way to the top of the depth chart. Baker ended up playing 635 snaps, 240 more than any defensive lineman not named Jason Hatcher. And he had impact, with six sacks, three forced fumbles, and two fumble recoveries. On a defense that scuffled at times, Baker was the one consistent force.
El-Bashir: I figured we’d eventually agree on one of these awards. And the reason we agreed on this one is simple: From week to week, Baker was the Redskins’ most impactful player on defense, and there’s really no debating that. The 28-year-old end didn’t just get better in ‘15, he took a huge leap forward. His six sacks, which earned him a $280,000 bonus, tripled his career output. He went from goose eggs in forced fumbles and fumble recoveries to three and two, respectively. And according to ProFootballFocus.com, he was tied for ninth among all 3-4 ends with 32 stops, which the website describes as solo tackles that constitute an offensive failure. Amazing what happens when a guy (temporarily) faces a challenge for his job, isn’t it?