Quick Links

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2017

Need to Know: Five Redskins who need to step up in 2017

Here is what you need to know on this Monday, January 9, 59 days before NFL free agency starts.


Days until:
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

In case you missed it

Quick Links

Jay Gruden returns to NFL as Jaguars offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden returns to NFL as Jaguars offensive coordinator

Jay Gruden has found a new team in the NFL as he was named the Jacksonville Jaguars' newest offensive coordinator for the 2020 season, the team has announced.

This will be Gruden's return to the league after he was fired as the Washington Redskins head coach earlier this year. He was relieved from his duties after an 0-5 start, the team's worst start under his tenure. 

The offensive mind, that was previously an offensive coordinator for the Cincinnati Bengals during their playoff runs with Andy Dalton, will now look to rejuvenate the Jaguars' offense. For years Jacksonville has had one of the least productive offenses in the entire league.

Strapped to Blake Bortles for several seasons and then signing Nick Foles has not paid dividends for head coach Doug Marrone and his staff. Aside from their improbable run to the AFC Championship in the 2017 season, the team has finished as one of the bottom seven offenses in the league under his tenure. 

Gruden also takes this new job as the Jaguars quarterback position is unsettled.

Nick Foles was signed to a four-year $88 million deal last offseason but struggled after an injury derailed his season. When he returned, he eventually was benched after two straight weeks without a touchdown pass. Rookie Gardner Minshew filled in for Foles' place and put together an admirable 6-6 record as a starter, accounting for all six of the team's wins. 

While directing the offense in Cincinnati, Gruden led the Bengals to three straight seasons as one of the top-13 offenses in the league. Their best season they were ranked as high as fourth. However, that did not fully translate to Washington. The last two seasons saw the Redskins offense fall to one of the bottom four in the league. Their record was not much better under his guidance at 35-49-1.

He likely takes this position with a short leash as John DeFilippo was fired from the same position after one year on the job. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.


Quick Links

Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

USA Today Sports

Report: Dan Snyder petitions state of Maryland for gambling license for new stadium

As a return to the old RFK Stadium site for the Redskins seems less likely, Washington owner Dan Snyder appears to be moving forward with a new plan: Staying in Maryland but adding a gambling license. 

Snyder met with a number of Maryland lawmakers to discuss sports betting and acquiring a license for a new Redskins stadium, according to The Washington Post. The report contends Snyder wants to use "sports betting as part of an overall plan to build a domed stadium that could include hotels, offices and training facilities."

The story also suggests Snyder could build the stadium with his own money. 

The Redskins currently play their games in Maryland at FedEx Field and their lease runs through 2027. The stadium is dated and Snyder has openly talked about wanting a new facility for his team to play.

For years, publicly, Snyder has opined that his team belongs back in D.C. at the RFK site. At various times in the last two years that seemed plausible, but political red tape from the federal government continues to hold things up. The stadium sits on federal land, and while the city has tried to regain control of that site, it hasn't happened. Until the city takes control, which is far from happening, it seems unlikely the Redskins get back to the site. 

So if it's time to move forward with Maryland, it requires a bit of a fresh start. The Redskins and the state were holding talks about a land swap to build a new stadium near the MGM National Harbor along the Potomac River, but those talks stalled when it became obvious the team preferred a return to D.C.

Legalized sports betting in Maryland seems likely to hit the ballot this fall, and considering the state already has fully operational casinos, there's little reason to think the vote wouldn't pass.

That's the first step for the Redskins to get a sports betting license for their new stadium. The idea isn't novel; Ted Leonsis has been quite open about adding a sports book to Capital One Arena and already has an agreement with William Hill bookmakers to run the gambling operation. Similar deals are expected at Audi Field and Nationals Park. 

It remains a bit of a surprise that Virginia politicians seem willing to sit out the courtship of a new Redskins stadium. Former Governor Terry McAullife actively flirted with the idea of building a new Redskins stadium in the Commonwealth, but current Governor Ralph Northam almost seems disinterested in the idea. 

The Redskins practice facility is in Loudon County and the team holds training camp each summer in Richmond. The training camp deal is soon to expire and some believe if and when a new stadium facility gets built, that could also house training camp and practices. Currently, no professional sports teams play in Virginia, and the Commonwealth does not appear as near legalized sports gambling as Maryland or the District. 

Like anything with a gigantic project in a region with three different local governing bodies and the omnipresent specter of the federal government looming, a new Redskins stadium will require significant legislative hurdles and deal-making. Stay tuned. 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports. Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream Capitals and Wizards games easily from your device.