Redskins

Need to Know: The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017

Redskins

Here is what you need to know on this Tuesday, January 10, 58 days before NFL free agency starts.

Timeline

Days until:
NFL franchise tag deadline 50
NFL draft 107
First Sunday of 2017 season 243

The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017

—I think that it’s bad that the Redskins missed the playoffs for one reason that outweighs all others. You can’t replace the experience of playing in a playoff game. These players missed that opportunity. And, strongly related to that is that the best way to measure the progress of a quarterback is how he performs in the postseason. The Redskins didn’t get that data point that they could have used to evaluate Cousins’ value.

—The Redskins need to take two steps forward in 2017. After making the playoffs and going one and done in 2015, last season was supposed to be the year that they returned to the postseason and won a game. The fact that they didn’t get it done puts extra pressure on this coming year. It’s hard to make progress in the NFL and it’s even harder to hold on to it once you’ve made it. I don’t see the passing game being as effective as it was this past season, not with the probability that DeSean Jackson and/or Pierre Garçon will be gone in 2017. Either that production will have to come from a significantly improved running game or the defense will have to be substantially better than it was last year.

 

—Even though Scot McCloughan did not draft a defensive lineman until the fifth round last year, he thought the defensive line would be covered. Chris Baker was fine at one end. He believed that 2015 free agent signee Stephen Paea would bounce back from injury issues and a slow adjustment to the Redskins’ defensive system and become a solid player. Kedric Golston was penciled in for 15 snaps per game at nose tackle. McCloughan figured that between holdover Ricky Jean Francois and free agent Kendall Reyes he would have two adequate rotational linemen. But only Baker and Jean Francois worked out as planned. Paea never got going and was cut before the season started, Reyes was cut a few weeks into the season, and Golston was on injured reserve with a torn hamstring after Week 2. So, they ended up with Ziggy Hood and Cullen Jenkins playing major roles when they should have been much further down the depth chart, if they belonged on an NFL roster at all.

—As the saying goes, the best laid plans of mice and men often go awry (I use that saying even though it never made sense to me; mice never struck me as being particularly good planners). The thing is, McCloughan’s plan wasn’t particularly well laid. It relied on a 33-year-old player, Golston, staying healthy. It also involved hoping that Paea could rebound and that Reyes’ play would elevate above the mediocre level he displayed in his previous stop in San Diego. There is no such thing as a sure thing in the NFL; there is always some degree of hoping that things go right. But this setup would have defied the odds if it had worked, like drawing three cards to an inside straight.

—We don’t know if things would have been better if McCloughan had drafted a defensive lineman earlier than the fifth round. Perhaps Vernon Butler, taken by the Panthers No. 30 overall, or Kenny Clark, the Packers’ pick with the 27th pick, would have improved the line significantly. But had a talented D-lineman been selected the team would not be starting from scratch like they might be with Baker set to enter free agency. Having one piece of the puzzle isn’t ideal but it’s better than having none.

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