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25 Redskins questions: More special teams improvement in 2015?

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25 Redskins questions: More special teams improvement in 2015?

Since General Manager Scot McCloughan was hired in early January, he’s been busy retooling the Redskins’ roster via free agency and preparing for the 2015 draft. So far, he’s received mostly positive reviews. But his work is far from done. In the coming weeks, Redskins Insiders Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine 25 issues that must be addressed as the offseason kicks into high gear.

Can the Redskins further improve their special teams in 2015?

Although Redskins fans have likely tried to completely forget the 2013 campaign, they surely remember how awful the special teams performance was that season. In fact, the unit was 70 percent worse than the team that ranked 31st, according to the DVOA metric used by Football Outsiders. Last year, the kicking units were merely bad, but not historically horrible. They “improved” to 29th in the NFL. That’s commendable, we suppose, but it’s not anywhere close to where the Redskins need to be if they want to be a contending team. Can they take another, bigger stride on special teams in 2015?

Tandler: In this series we have looked at if the Redskins should get a new kick returner and we have discussed if they should seek an upgrade from kicker Kai Forbath. As of right now it’s the mediocre status quo at both of those positions so it’s hard to see where any improvement is going to come from in those areas. Bruce Allen had the right idea last year when the signed veteran linebackers Akeem Jordan, Darryl Sharpton, and Adam Hayward to bolster the coverage units but injuries derailed the season for all three and only Hayward remains under contract. We have seen no such signings this year. It’s a positive that gunner Niles Paul re-signed with team and Trenton Robinson, who led the Redskins in special teams tackles, is also going to be back but, again, where will improvement come from? Perhaps another year of working in special teams coach Ben Kotwica’s system will help them perform more effectively. But right now it’s hard to see them even improving to mediocre in the kicking game. They have a long way to go until the special teams improve to the point where they are a positive factor that actually helps them win games.

El-Bashir: The Redskins indeed made some moderate strides on special teams last season. But, as Rich pointed out, they can’t be satisfied with improving from downright awful to occasionally adequate. They’ve got work to do. The unit features some decent building blocks in Robinson, whose 15 special teams tackles was tied for seventh in the NFL last season, Paul and Hayward. Nick Sundberg is a solid, reliable snapper. Tress Way, who led the league in average yards per punt as rookie, has the potential to be a Pro Bowler if he works to polish his game. Kai Forbath is a mixed bag. He’s been a top-10 field goal kicker in two out of his three seasons, but he’s also suffered a couple of injuries and struggled to be consistent on kickoffs. Still, I think you live with Forbath’s kickoffs so long as he’s clutch on field goals—unless, of course, you can find someone who is markedly better at both. To me, the bottom line is this: if GM Scot McCloughan can find a game-changing returner (easier said than done) and get a few more players like Robinson, Paul, Hayward, Akeem Davis, Darrel Young—guys who understand and embrace their role—I think it’s reasonable to expect the unit can take another step toward respectability in Kotwica’s second year.

25 questions series

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2018 NFL Power Rankings: There's a lot of shuffling going on already

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USA Today

2018 NFL Power Rankings: There's a lot of shuffling going on already

After one week in the NFL, you try not to overreact. Two weeks into the season, however, and you begin to see some trends.

FOR THE UPDATED 2018 NFL POWER RANKINGS, CLICK HERE

Of course, you should still take a measured approach with the NFL, because things often change so much in a span of seven days. With that being said, it's time to start taking the following things seriously:

1) The Bucs. Ryan Fitzpatrick won't keep this up all season long, but he's done it against the Saints and the Eagles and neither win was that stressful. It's still hard to envision them really mattering in December, but so far, they've climbed in NBCSportsWashington.com's NFL power rankings.

2) The Steelers issues. Le'Veon Bell is nowhere to be seen and now Antonio Brown is blowing up on the sideline then missing practices. Pittsburgh will pretend that everything's OK, but this has been a very non-Pittsburgh start to the schedule.That doesn't even mention their defensive woes.

3) The Jaguars, and not just their defense. Blake Bortles isn't better than Tom Brady every week but he was in Week 2. It was nice seeing that offense do their part in a crucial victory, because their defense has already proved itself plenty.

There are plenty of more takeaways to digest, including a new team at the top of the list and plenty of more action throughout. You know the Bills are at the bottom, but check out the updated rankings to see where everyone else lands.

FOR THE UPDATED 2018 NFL POWER RANKINGS, CLICK HERE

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Vernon Davis reacts to brother Vontae Davis' abrupt retirement

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Instagram.com/@vernondavis85

Vernon Davis reacts to brother Vontae Davis' abrupt retirement

Easily the most talked about story following Week 2 in the NFL was the abrupt retirement of Buffalo Bills' cornerback, Vontae Davis. 

Not once in the history of the NFL has there been a mid-game retirement, which caused plenty of reason for a stir.

Davis' brother Vernon, Redskins' tight end, took to social media Tuesday to address his younger brother's abrupt retirement via Instagram. An inspirational video containing photos of the two brothers and a voice-over was a fitting tribute to the younger Davis' time in the NFL.

"I feel like I retired because we’re so close and I look at him as he’s my son even though he’s my younger brother," Vernon said in the Instagram post.

Vontae was signed by the Buffalo Bills in February 2018 on a one-year deal. He had been in the NFL since 2009 with the Miami Dolphins and Indianapolis Colts. 

Despite the drama surrounding what seemed like an impulsive decision to many, Vontae was inactive for his first week with the Bills and did not see the field in Week 2. 

See Vernon's tribute to his brother on Instagram below: