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Which Redskins did we over and underrate prior to the season?


Which Redskins did we over and underrate prior to the season?

On the list of words that one could use to describe the season had by the 2015 Washington Redskins, "unexpected" is at or near the top. The team finished with an unexpected 9-7 record, picked up an unexpected division title, and received contributions from many unexpected sources. But it's the third item on that list — the fact that the Burgundy and Gold had contributors from all sorts of places — that's inspiring this post.

Prior to training camp, our CSN Redskins Insiders ranked the 53 players who were supposed to make up Washington's roster from worst to first, in order of expected impact. However, due to the hectic, injury-filled natured of the campaign that was just completed, many of the guys near the bottom of the list stepped up and totally blew away their anticipated performances. They were the players who were very underrated prior to the year's start.

Of course, on the flip side of that discussion, there were also some names who didn't match up with the hype they were given early on. For whatever reason, whether it be someone else taking away their spot, missing games because they were hurt, etc., these were the players who were overrated and proved to not be as important as initially thought.

So, since the book has recently been shut on the 2015 'Skins, it's time to review our rankings and admit where we went wrong and where our estimations were a bit off, starting with the offense.

Who did we underrate on offense?

  • Keep in mind that, when the rankings were created, things were different on this side of the ball: Instead of leading franchise record-setting comebacks and notching 300-yard games on a weekly basis, Kirk Cousins (No. 25) was still the backup. Obviously, he's now somewhere in the top five of the most important players on the team, and will likely be cashing out thanks to his breakout year quite soon.
  • Jordan Reed (No. 20) also looks criminally underrated on the list, but can you blame the Insiders? Before the season, he was a skilled tight end that was about as reliable as cell phone service in the mountains. We now know, though, he's a linebacker-destroying, corner-shaking pass receiver who is about as valuable as it gets.
  • Putting Morgan Moses at No. 42 made a lot of sense then, but now, the thought-to-be project is actually the starting right tackle for the foreseeable future after developing at a much quicker rate than anyone thought he could. 

Who did we overrate on offense?

  • Let's keep it simple. Robert Griffin III was No. 3 on the list. After not playing a single snap in all of 2015, he probably could be put at No. 53 if we did the same thing today.
  • Alfred Morris (No. 7) just kept declining, even though it looked like running behind a bolstered offensive line being coached by Bill Callahan would help spark his production. Now, it looks like both he and Griffin, the two jewels from the 2012 draft class, will be on the move.
  • Interestingly enough, Niles Paul (No. 17) actually checked in three spots ahead of Reed. His season-ending injury in the preseason prevented him from showing whether that was an appropriate ranking or not (remember, he was in line to be the starter ahead of #86 before going down), but it is hard imagining him coming close to the numbers Reed posted this year.

Click here to view the full rankings and see which Redskins over and underperformed this season

Who did we underrate on defense?

  • Kyshoen Jarrett (No. 48) probably deserves an apology. The sixth-round selection out of Virginia Tech was thought to be — at best — a solid special teams option. Yet, he soon inserted himself into nickel situations, and eventually lined up just about everywhere for Joe Barry's unit. An argument could be made for him being a top-15 choice now.
  • Like Jarrett, Chris Baker (No. 34) ended at least 25 spots too low looking back on things. The charismatic defensive lineman set a career-high with six sacks, and was in the opponent's backfield so often it felt like he was a member of the opposite team's offense.
  • Will Compton (No. 31) showed in 2015 he is more than just a depth-provider, after finishing the year as a starter at inside linebacker. He's always been fun to watch on social media, but now we know he can do some things between the lines, too. Preston Smith (No. 22) also didn't get as much respect as he should have.

Who did we overrate on defense?

  • David Amerson (No. 23) lasted one regular season contest before being cut by Washington. He went on to bounce back with Oakland, but for someone who was supposed to solidify the secondary, not even making it to Week 2 means he was very overrated.
  • Stephen Paea (No. 12) and Chris Culliver (No. 8) were two pricey free agent acquisitions that were paid to be stars on this year's defense. Both, however, struggled with injuries and with doing their job, and now need much better 2016's to justify their contracts.
  • Those other guys pale in comparison, though, to Keenan Robinson (No. 6) who didn't really make a single impactful play during the season and was eventually benched in favor of more productive options. He may not be here by Week 1 of 2016, a sharp drop for the talented but underwhelming linebacker. 

As you can see, trying to project who's going to come up big and who will play a minor role during the course of an NFL season is tough. In a sport where so many injuries occur and players are constantly moving up and down the depth chart, hindsight almost always proves to be 20/20.


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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

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Need to Know: What to look for at Redskins OTAs

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, May 23, 65 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp.  

What to look for at OTAs

Redskins OTAs started yesterday. The no-contact drills are the first time during the offseason program that the offense and defense are permitted to line up against each other. The-no pads aspect of it does take off a lot of the edge but the reality is that this will be the closest thing to football we will see until training camp starts in late July. 

Here are some things that I will be looking for during today’s practice.

Who’s in? Jay Gruden told us earlier that we should not expect to see some injured key players not participating as they continue to recover from 2017 injuries. Specifically, OT Trent Williams (knee), OT Morgan Moses (ankles), and TE Jordan Reed (hamstring/toe) will only be spectators if they are at Redskins Park at all. Other players who may sit out or participate only in light drills are RB Chris Thompson (leg), and ILB Mason Foster (shoulder). The Redskins have been relatively healthy the past few offseasons so we will see how they deal with the aftermath of the injury scourge that his the team last year. 

Seven-on-seven—Sure, it’s fun to watch the full team drills with 11 on each side. But since blocking and tackling is limited by the rules about contact there isn’t much to be gleaned from watching an off-tackle run. But when they eliminate the guards, tackles, and interior defensive linemen it’s all passing and then we can watch how well Alex Smith and his receivers are connecting. One thing I’ll keep in mind is that Smith decided not to get the receivers together for a “passing camp” before the offseason activities started. He said that he wanted to get to know the playbook first. Because of that they can be forgiven if they are not quite as sharp as they might be. Also, how natural does Derrius Guice look coming out of the backfield to catch passes? His primary job will be to carry the ball but if he is a legitimate pass-catching threat the whole offense will be harder to defend

Rookies vs. pros—In rookie camp two weeks ago we saw Trey Quinn putting defensive backs on the ground with some moves and Troy Apke showing great makeup speed on some long passes. But those tryout defensive backs and quarterbacks are no longer around. How will Quinn look against veteran Orlando Scandrick or second-year corner Josh Holsey? Will Smith’s ball placement negate Apke’s speed? In the one-on-one pass blocking drills, which emphasize technique over power, can Daron Payne get past Brandon Scherff?

The big guys—With Williams and Moses out, who will line up along the offensive line? Does Payne line up at nose tackle or is he used more as an end with Tim Settle in the middle? Is Ziggy Hood in the middle or will he work outside? How is Phil Taylor looking after a quad injury ended his season in training camp? As noted, the rules make it hard to tell much about linemen before Richmond but we try to glean what we can. 

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCSand on Instagram @RichTandler

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My reaction to this tweet from the NFL illustrating the changes to the kickoff rules:


Today’s schedule:Redskins OTA practice 11:30; Jay Gruden and Alex Smith press conferences, players available coming off the field, after practice, approx. 1:30

Days until:

—Minicamp (6/12) 20
—Training camp starts (7/26) 65
—Preseason opener @ Patriots (8/9) 79

The Redskins last played a game 143 days ago. They will open the 2018 NFL season at the Cardinals in 109 days. 

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New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

New pieces on offense lead to plenty of questions for Redskins at OTAs

Alex Smith in, Kirk Cousins out.

That's certainly the headline, but there are plenty of other questions for the Redskins, particularly on the offensive side of the ball.

For the last two seasons, most of the questions going into OTAs for Washington came from the defensive side of the ball. After consecutive drafts with a first-round defensive lineman selection, the defense should be much improved. 

On offense, however, there are a lot of new parts. 

  1. The headliner - No position in sports is as important as NFL quarterback. This will be Alex Smith's first action in a Redskins uniform with media present. The 34-year-old veteran is coming off the best season of his career, and if he can continue that level of accuracy and play-making, the Redskins could be poised for an explosive year.
  2. The speedster - Washington's wideouts lacked separation in 2017. It was apparent through much of the year, and likely played a roll in some of Kirk Cousins' reluctance to make tough throws. Free agent addition Paul Richardson is supposed to help, immediately. He has elite deep speed and the 'Skins brass hopes he can bring a similar element to the offense that DeSean Jackson provided a few years back. Time to prove it Paul. 
  3. The injuries - There are big reasons for concern, namely two very large men in Jordan Reed and Trent Williams. Reed will not participate in OTAs, and has been dealing with a foot/toe injury for the better part of a year. Williams, who seems highly unlikely to attend OTAs, underwent knee surgery in January. Beyond Smith, Reed and Williams are probably the two most important offensive players on the Redskins. OTAs aren't important, Reed and Williams participating, or even attending, OTAs is not important. Both men being healthy and ready to go in September is quite important. 
  4. The Rookie - Has Derrius Guice become the most popular player on the Redskins? Maybe. The dynamic rookie running back, with an interesting draft weekend slide, has the charisma and ability to be a star. The "off-field concerns" that hurt his draft status seem like myths at this point, but there was some injury concern his junior season at LSU (see video above). Guice has an opportunity to be a huge part of the Redskins offense, and all eyes will be watching the rookie. 
  5. The leap? - In 2017, Josh Doctson showed flashes of the player that warranted a first-round pick in 2016. Will 2018 be the year he proves it, week after week, game after game? Getting off to a good start with Smith should help, and even more important would be an injury-free offseason. 

There are questions for the defense too, particularly at cornerback after Josh Norman, but this year, the offense has more new parts. 


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