In theory, any player in any given season can play at a Pro Bowl level and any player’s performance can go completely into the tank due to injuries or any number of other reasons.
But in practical terms it’s reasonable to expect that a given player’s performance will fall into a rage based on factors such as past performance, age, etc. So over the next couple of days we’ll look at best- and worst-case scenarios for key players on each side of the ball. Previously we look at key players on offense; today, the defense goes under the microscope.
OLB Ryan Kerrigan
Best: 13 sacks, 1 interception, 6 forced fumbles—The sacks depend a lot on if the Redskins are frequently playing with a lead and if others are drawing attention away from him. Kerrigan hasn’t had an interception since he got one in each of his first two seasons in the league. Is he due?
Worst: 8 sacks, 3 forced fumbles—He scuffled with injuries last year, being bothered by a knee injury early and a broken hand at midseason. Although he wouldn’t admit it, the injuries affected his performance. If he is dinged up in 2016 his performance could suffer even more.
OLB Preston Smith
Best: 12 sacks, 5 forced fumbles—Smith won’t keep up the pace he was on at the end of last year, when he posted six sacks in the final four games, including one of Aaron Rodgers for a safety in the playoff game. But if he has figured out how to do what it takes to succeed in the NFL he can be a steady force.
Worst: 7 sacks, 2 forced fumbles—He could take a step back if he doesn’t continue to put in the work needed to be able to produce consistently.
OLB Junior Galette
Best: 12 sacks, 3 forced fumbles—The 12 sacks would match his career high, set in 2012 with the Saints. Motivation won’t be a problem, with Galette working on an incentive-laden one-year deal. Health, with him coming off of a torn Achilles, could be an issue.
Worst: 5 sacks—This could happen if he doesn’t get back that explosive first step that made him so effective with the Saints.
CB Bashaud Breeland
Best: 6 interceptions, 1 TD—Breeland has intercepted two passes in each of his first two seasons in the NFL. He has had his hands on many more than that but he couldn’t hold on. If he can turn a couple of drops into picks and get the benefit of a strong pass rush in front of him he could triple his career best and get a pick six along the way.
Worst: 2 interceptions—There is no reason to think that his performance would fall off to any degree in his third year in the league.