Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 9, 59 days before NFL free agency starts.
—NFL franchise tag deadline 51
—NFL draft 108
—First Sunday of 2017 season 244
Five Redskins who need to step up in 2016
RB Rob Kelley—He was a nice story as an undrafted rookie who did a decent job coming after Jay Gruden decided to deactivate Matt Jones for the last nine games of the season. Projecting his production in those nine starts over a 16-game season he would have just over 1,000 yards rushing, which is good. But he averaged just 4.0 yards per carry, which would have ranked around 24th in the league if he had enough carries to qualify. And he needs to work on his receiving skills; an average of one catch for nine yards per game. If the Redskins are going to have a balanced attack, they need more from Kelley.
WR Josh Doctson—The Redskins’ first-round pick barely practiced or played but his exposure to a year of being around the team and going to meetings should have him ahead of where a raw rookie would be. That’s good because he will be expected to step up into a featured role if, as expected, Pierre Garçon and/or DeSean Jackson depart via free agency. If they both go, that’s over 2,000 receiving yards and seven touchdowns that would have to be replaced. Doctson will be counted on to account for a good chunk of that.
OLB Preston Smith—Five sacks, an interception, a field goal block, and three passes defensed isn’t a terrible season but Smith is capable of much more. The defense is going to add a lot of pieces during the offseason but it’s possible that none will have a bigger potential impact than we would see if Smith consistently becomes the player he was against the Vikings and Bears this past year and the one who blossomed in the latter stages of the 2015 season. If he can do that the defense could take a major leap in 2017.
CB Bashaud Breeland—Looking at his body of work for the season perhaps it’s unfair to say that Breeland regressed in 2016 but he sure didn’t take the leap forward that many thought/hoped he would. Unless he and the Redskins negotiate a contract extension Breeland is going into a contract year. For both his sake and for the sake of the defense, he needs to take that big leap forward, develop consistency and become a quality NFL starter.
CB Josh Norman—His cap number this year is $20 million, or slightly more than the cap hit of QB Kirk Cousins in 2016. It’s not fair to expect Norman to have the same impact as quarterback who threw for nearly 5,000 yards but the Redskins will expect more than three interceptions out of him. Sure, they don’t throw his way often but he had around a half a dozen picks in his hands that he didn’t hold on to. And they would appreciate him drastically reducing the 19 penalty flags he drew this season.
Tandler on Twitter
Prior to this game the most points NYG had given up this year was 29 to the #Redskins in Week 3.— Rich Tandler (@TandlerNBCS) January 9, 2017
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