In less than a year, the Redskins completed a stunning turnaround, ascending from a laughingstock in 2014 to a division champion in 2015. But now comes the difficult part: taking that all-important next step and improving from a franchise that was fortunate to get into the playoffs to one that can do some damage once it gets there. And that work begins right now for Jay Gruden, Scot McCloughan and the players.
In the coming weeks, Redskins reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will examine the 25 biggest questions facing the Redskins as another offseason gets rolling.
Should the Redskins re-sign Darrel Young?
Tandler: Yes. Next question.
OK. I suppose we can go into a little bit more depth here. There is a legitimate decision that Scot McCloughan has to make here. Young is a free agent who averaged just seven snaps per game on offense. That’s nearly a 50 percent drop from his 2014 workload (13.4 snaps per game). He will be 29 in a couple of months and while that’s not ancient for a fullback it is at the point where a GM can contemplate “younger and cheaper”.
And even though the running game struggled mightily it was apparent that Jay Gruden did not think that using Young was a solution. When additional blocking was called for the Redskins usually put in Tom Compton, who was lined up in the tight end position but was really a third tackle. He played 13.5 snaps per game, about twice Young’s average workload. And Gruden preferred to use Compton even though that move essentially left the offense with just four eligible receivers in the game. Young has 44 career pass receptions for an average of 9.6 yards so unlike Compton he is someone to whom the defense must pay attention.
But even if Young doesn’t play much on offense he still is a valuable member of the team. He was by far the team’s most prolific special teams player, participating in 310 snaps, 57 more than anyone else on the team. He is the type of hard-working veteran that McCloughan likes to have around to set the example and he is a good locker room presence. Some fans may scoff and say the team should carry an extra linebacker or offensive lineman instead of a fullback on the 53-man roster but having players like Young on the roster matters.
El-Bashir: I’m leaning towards a ‘Yes’ on this one, as well.
Even though fullbacks are being phased out around the league, there are still situations where they’re useful such as goal-line and short-yardage, to name a couple. So even if Young isn’t going to play a big role on offense, there's always a need for a trustworthy veteran for those few important snaps. And Young, 28, is definitely that.
Although he didn’t score a touchdown last season, he’s proven in the past that he’s a threat. In fact, he racked up a combined nine touchdowns in 2013 and 2014 (six rushing and three receiving).
And you can’t ignore what Young meant to an improving special teams unit in 2015. In addition to leading the unit in playing time, he finished with five tackles, which was tied for the fourth most on the team.
Finally, Young is tough, intense and passionate about his job. And he shows up every day with a smile on his face. He’ll always grant an interview, too, win or lose. And while that doesn’t matter on the football field, it’s appreciated by his teammates because it mitigates the media burden on them.
I wonder if he’ll want to look around in free agency and see if he can find a team where he’ll get to play more on offense next season. In the end, though, I’ll be mildly surprised if he and the Redskins don’t hammer out an extension after six good years together.
25 Questions series
- Is McCoy the answer at backup QB for the Redskins?
- Should the Redskins try to keep Alfred Morris?
- Should the Redskins cut Andre Roberts?
- Will there be a surprise cap casualty?
- Will DeAngelo Hall return?
- Should the Redskins draft a quarterback?
- Are the Redskins set at outside linebacker?
- Should the Redskins make changes on the offensive line?
- Should Pierre Garçon return?
- What should the Redskins do at tight end?
- Is Matt Jones ready to assume the Redskins' No. 1 running back job?
- Will Kirk Cousins improve in 2016?
- Who will start at inside linebacker?
- Who on defense will take the next step?
- How can the Redskins make it to the Super Bowl?
- Who on offense will take the next step?
- Should DeSean Jackson return?
- How can the Redskins fix the running game?
- What will the depth chart at safety look like in 2016?
- Today: Should they re-sign Darrel Young?
- Tomorrow: What is the single most impactful improvement the team can make?