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.
Special teams Player of the Year
El-Bashir: I’m going with Tress Way, who served as unit captain in 2015 and continued to blossom into one of the NFL’s top young punters. Although Way’s average this season was more than a yard less than his league-leading 47.5 yards per in ’14, he was particularly strong during the team's playoff push and, more important, proved to be more polished player in his second NFL season. He’s still got enough leg to flip the field, but he’s now better at the details such as location. Way was rated as the eighth best punter in the game by ProFootballFocus.com, which takes into account average, hang time, return yards and punts placed inside the 20, among other factors.
Tandler: Kudos to Way for his solid season. But I’m going with the other guy who puts shoe leather into pigskin for a living, kicker Dustin Hopkins. He was signed off of the street in Week 2 and improved the place kicking position by leaps and bounds. Hopkins was in the top 10 in touchbacks, long a sore spot for Redskins’ kickers, and in net kickoff average. He booted a 52-yard field goal as time expired to sent the Falcons game into overtime, the first time any Redskins kicker had made a kick like that in at least 18 years. And he was responsible for Tarik’s choice for the most important play of the year, a successful surprise onside kick in the third quarter against the Bucs, a key part of the Redskins’ record-setting comeback win.