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  1. #1

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    B Burner's Burning Questions: 2015 Season Grades, Evaluations, Questions

    The 2015 season is in the books and now we take a look at how the entire team fared against all of their opponents. The Redskins had a topsy-turvy season, but finished strongly with four straight wins. The result was winning the NFC East, but the team did not advance past the first round of the playoffs. It was an eventful year with plenty of highs and lows. So now it is time to make some sense of it all as BBQ hands out grades and evaluations for 2015. Feel free to offer your own grades, evaluations, and opinions. Also, we have some questions to close out the 2015 season. Two other notes: BBQ will do a self-evaluation of season predictions for the 2015 season tomorrow. Next week we will activate the offseason edition of BBQ with looks at free agency and the draft.

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    2015 Season Grades, Evaluations, Questions


    The 2015 season is in the books and now we take a look at how the entire team fared against all of their opponents. The Redskins had a topsy-turvy season, but finished strongly with four straight wins. The result was winning the NFC East, but the team did not advance past the first round of the playoffs. It was an eventful year with plenty of highs and lows. So now it is time to make some sense of it all as BBQ hands out grades and evaluations for 2015. Feel free to offer your own grades, evaluations, and opinions. Also, we have some questions to close out the 2015 season. Two other notes: BBQ will do a self-evaluation of season predictions for the 2015 season tomorrow. Next week we will activate the offseason edition of BBQ with looks at free agency and the draft.

    Let’s take a look at the grades.

    Quarterbacks:
    The first six games of the season was a mixed result as Kirk Cousins took over the play calling duties. The final eleven games of the season saw a quarterback who was simply on fire (with a couple of exceptions). The Robert Griffin, III era was over. The numbers turned out to be gaudy and impressive at the same time. Records were broken. A division crown was earned. Is he the franchise quarterback of the future? Only time will tell.
    Grade: B

    Running Backs:
    Running back duties were shared by Alfred Morris, Matt Jones, Chris Thompson, and Pierre Thomas. The first two games were impressive. With the exception of a game or two, this unit was unimpressive after those early games. Morris had his lowest totals as a Redskin. Matt Jones demonstrated flashes of brilliance, but did have a case of fumblitis early in the season. Chris Thompson did an admirable job as a third down back.
    Grade: C-

    Wide Receivers:
    Let’s start with the rookie, Jamison Crowder. He had a spectacular season and appears to have the slot position nailed down for the next eight to twelve years. Pierre Garcon had another solid season with seventy-two catches and six touchdowns. He’s a savvy veteran who works hard all the time. DeSean Jackson was a participant for eight games only (we’re not counting the first game), but did produce thirty catches and 528 yards. The remainder of this group included Andre Roberts, Ryan Grant, and Rashad Ross in limited roles.
    Grade: B

    Tight Ends:
    Jordan Reed set new team records in dramatic fashion. He is largely credited with having the finest route running skills in the league. As Jordan Reed goes, so go the Redskins in the 2015 season. A hodgepodge of characters served as backups and had mixed results.
    Grade: A-

    Offensive Line:
    For much of the season this unit was solid in pass protection and lacking in the running game. On the right side, Morgan Moses and Brandon Scherff proved to be a formidable tandem and could have the right side locked down for the next decade to twelve years. Kory Lichtensteiger struggled this season and missed some time to injury. His replacement, Josh LeRibeus, struggled early and was able to improve down the stretch. Injuries limited Trent Williams later in the season and Spencer Long was simply a placeholder.
    Grade: B-

    Defensive Line:
    There were times when the defensive line was dominant and games where they all but underperformed. Chris Baker had his best season thus far. Terrance Knighton basically did his job, but little else. Jason Hatcher is on his last legs and it showed. Ricky Jean Francois shined at times, but would disappear for long stretches. Changes are certainly coming.
    Grade: C-

    Linebackers:
    The storylines were basically unchanged for most of the season - the defensive line did them no favors and opened very few pass rushing lanes. Ryan Kerrigan was not as powerful like he had been in previous seasons – a lingering injury was the likely culprit. Keenan Robinson and Perry Riley did not have a good season in all honesty. Trent Murphy was fairly good, but there is an emerging star with Preston Smith and his rookie campaign took off, especially in the latter half of 2015.
    Grade: B

    Cornerbacks:
    Bashaud Breeland had a good 2015 and he likely has a lock on starting for many more years to come. Chris Culliver was having a solid season until he was sidelined by an injury. Enter Will Blackmon – he did a good job, but had a few plays where he was not in the right spot. Kyshoen Jarrett was phenomenal when he played in dime packages and closer to the line. The real story could be Quinton Dunbar, a former receiver who came out of nowhere to have quite the impact as an unheralded rookie.
    Grade: B+

    Safeties:
    The strike safeties saw plenty of changes due to injury and ineffective play. Duke Ihenacho was lost early in the season, but Jeron Johnson was not the answer. Deangelo Hall was moved to this position and did an admirable job. Dashon Goldson had a good season and seemed to get better with each game. Very late in the season, Goldson and Hall switched positions and it was the right move.
    Grade: B-

    Special Teams:
    Tress Way had another solid season and is likely to be retained for many more years to come. The placekicking duties fell to Kai Forbath once again, but he was released early in the season for Dustin Hopkins. The booming kickoffs and field goal accuracy was a welcomed improvement, but Hopkins did have a couple of miscues late in the season. Punt and kickoff coverage was quite good, but the punt return unit still had problems with penalties and had very few returns of significant yardage. The kickoff return unit was far better with Rashad Ross providing a touchdown (ditto for Andre Roberts) and had very few penalties.
    Grade: B+

    Coaching:
    The first and most critical decision was made toward the end of preseason – starting Kirk Cousins over Robert Griffin, III. It was the right choice. The running game started off well, but struggled for most of the season. The receivers were solid. Offensive game plans against lesser competition were superb, but lacked greatly against elite teams. The story is similar for the defense – great against weak teams and poor against the better opponents. Special teams had a good year, but still had some issues with penalties and punt returns. Numerous season ending injuries are taken into consideration as the team continued to fight with a great, positive attitude.
    Grade: B-

    General Manager:
    There are not enough superlatives to go around when thinking of the impact that Scot McCloughan has had on the Redskins thus far. His enthusiasm on the sideline is so contagious. He easily connects with the players. His only draft class is simply incredible. The free agent class was good, but did come up short in a couple of areas and that would be our only gripe. Players that had to be signed during the season due to injuries was a masterpiece. You should hope that this is our general manager for the next twenty years or more.
    Grade: A+

    How would you grade each position, the coaching staff, and general manager for 2015? Did winning the division and having a home playoff game surprise you? Is Kirk Cousins the answer at quarterback? How about Will Compton, Quinton Dunbar, Kyshoen Jarrett, and Mason Foster – was that not impressive this season? Will the record be even better for the 2016 season?

    See you again tomorrow.

    Hail to the Redskins!
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    Nice breakdown there BB. Not arguments from me on anything.

    I think our Special Teams goes under appreciated this year. Hopkins was very reliable all season and Way continues to be one of the better punters in the league. Coverage seemed to be much better this year and we also returned a KO for a TD.
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    Florida State

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    I think my unsung player of the year has to be Pierre Garcon. The man simple buckles up each week and goes to work. He is not spectacular, but reminds me of someone like Anquan Bolden, like you said BB...a solid vet who can be there on crucial downs.
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

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    That was my thinking too and it is why I singled Garcon out. Also, I was able to see the play at the end of the Cowboys game that you referenced. Greg Hardy lined up over center and Scherff just pushed him out of the way - with ease. Hardy was not happy, but that's just great football.
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    Thanx, BB for the great report card. I might add the following:

    I think the major blow to the running game was losing Lauvao. They ran ball quite well when he played early in the season. Long actually did pretty well in pass protection (gave up a lot of hurries but no sacks) but had no punch in the run game. Jones has to get over the fumbling thing but Morris wasn't very good in that department in his first two years. Granted Alf had many more touches but he did have 4 fumbles (losing 3) in 2012 and 5 (losing 4) in 2013. He has lost zero in the last two years.

    The receivers are the best skill group on the team. They can afford to bring in some guys slowly and develop them to keep the group at that level.

    Hall looked good when he played strong safety and closer to the box. He just doesn't have the wheels at free safety but I expect him to be back in 2016. Besides, he can always go back to CB if the Skins get better at the safety spot or if needed. For being a 9 year vet, Blackmon played pretty poorly overall and had a hard time staying close to his guy.

    With all the injuries and replacements during the year the secondary was understandably pretty out of sync much of the time. Guys not knowing their assignments or not knowing when to turn a receiver over to another DB versus staying with them. They actually did pretty well in press coverage but when they played back it was a disaster. I don't know that they wound up with the right players that could actually do either well enough as a group when on the field at the same time but you have to play the guys you have. They might be better off in the future playing more man coverage and a lot less zone.

    Baker pretty well outshined the rest of the dLine combined. Hatcher didn't do much and Golston did even less. Both these guys are into their 30's and are not improving with age. The line was pretty bad against the run but the Redskins could have helped them out a bit by playing a LB or two much closer to the line than they typically did.

    They should sign Kirk up for a few years. This team has more pressing needs than screwing around with a QB that is working out in your system. Especially on defense. It's a lot easier to pick up wins if you keep the other guys from putting points on the board. Look at the Jags - with Bortles at QB they piled up a ton of points but their defense was next to last in points given up. Got them a total of 5 wins.
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    The Redskins won't take one with their #1 pick, but Scot needs to find an anchor center for the offensive line.

    Kory will be 31 next season and Josh LeRibeus is clearly not the answer (at guard either I might add).

    I agree on the DL there are fairly big issues given how much we have spent on this unit. Jason Hatcher looks done. Stephen Paea seemed in 2015 to be the one player Scot brought in that was simply a bust. Hopefully, he has more to show us in 2016 given his contract.

    Chris Baker is the team's best defensive lineman. His friend Terrance Knighton had an up and down season inside at NT and while his $4M salary was not a back-breaker in 2015, I would not extend him on a new deal to the $6-$8M million a year level based upon what he did at age 29.

    It seems to me that Scot and the organization with good scouting should be able to find a DT/NT in the draft in Round 2 or 3 that can come in and solidify this spot for more reasonable dollars.

    In the backfield, Chris Culliver, the team's best defensive back is coming off ACL/MCL surgery. With his ETA still up in the air, the Redskins need to seriously consider drafting a cornerback in Round 1 of the draft.

    Picking at #21, that seems to be a good spot to pick up a solid cover corner.

    There has to be some change at wide receiver and running back. At wide receiver it is a money-issue with both Garcon and Jackson set to count for $17M against the cap. Someone has to go here based on the contracts and the ages of the players, Jackson will be 30 and Garcon 29.

    We need to find a younger receiver that combines some of the downfield challenge that DeSean does while at the same time providing the durability and physical play of Pierre.

    In the backfield, Morris seemed lost in the Gruden system. At 27 he won't be back here. There are zone teams out there in which Alfred can be comfortable and productive in their offenses.

    At the same time Matt Jones had a rough rookie season despite physical talent. He clearly needs to sharpen his focus and preparation skills. He had a ton of mistakes on the field from lining up in the wrong position, to failing to pick up blocks in pass protection, and ball security issues.

    He can and should get better with coaching and some added maturity, but I see him being a complementary back for another year before he puts it all together.

    In the meantime, we need a veteran we can count on.

    If the Ravens cut Justin Forsett I would consider picking him up on a short-term deal if possible.

    Chris Thompson and Pierre Thomas both contributed down the stretch in the passing game. I would bring both back in 2016 to compete in training camp for spots on the team.

    A late round pick for a developmental back would seem to be in order in April.
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    I don't know that either DeSean or Garceon needs to go. There is a lot of room for restructuring their contracts, especially Jacksons. He's signed for 2016 and the team has an option in 2017. I really think they'll extend his contract and get a cap friendly number. I'm not saying they would or even should but if he gets a new contract the team gets a fifth year to spread out the cap due to the team option if they signed him out that far. 2016 is Garceons last year of his contract. Yeah it's $10M but again a real good candidate for a cap friendly extension.
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    Default Burner's Burning Questions: 2015 Season Grades, Evaluations, Questions

    Jackson is not a true #1 WR. He's a deep threat like no other, not taking away from that. But his production and play to play ability doesn't warrant big money. I'd rather we let him go and stick with Garcon and find a true #1 in the next several drafts. Restructuring requires willingness on the part of the player and i'd be surprised if that's there in Jackson's camp. May be proven wrong though. Jackson's durability is also becoming a major question mark.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Boone View Post
    Jackson is not a true #1 WR. He's a deep threat like no other, not taking away from that. But his production and play to play ability doesn't warrant big money. I'd rather we let him go and stick with Garcon and find a true #1 in the next several drafts. Restructuring requires willingness on the part of the player and i'd be surprised if that's there in Jackson's camp. May be proven wrong though. Jackson's durability is also becoming a major question mark.

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    I used to believe we could do without Jackson...still would not be totally disappointed if we let him go, but there is no denying his value. Now, is that value 10 million a year? I don't know...part of me thinks he went into the season half assed, got hurt because of lack of conditioning, returned and played harder when he saw we weren't on the way to cellar dweller again. That is not the kind of player I want. However, I think tr1 has a point, Jackson was a huge part of our successful campaign down the stretch. I think he minimizes the value of the entire surrounding cast, but we are a better team with Jackson on the field.

    I really like Garcon and he is becoming that go to guy in any situation...a very good possession receiver. Would hate to see him go.

    Would love to figure out how to keep both.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Elephant View Post
    but we are a better team with Jackson on the field.
    More importantly, we are most likely a better team with Jackson, than with any guy we attempt to draft, to replace him with.
    Finding a #1 receiver in the draft is incredibly difficult, and I absolutely would not ditch Jackson, until AFTER we find one.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fear The Spear View Post
    More importantly, we are most likely a better team with Jackson, than with any guy we attempt to draft, to replace him with.
    Finding a #1 receiver in the draft is incredibly difficult, and I absolutely would not ditch Jackson, until AFTER we find one.
    I agree finding a #1 WR in the draft is highly unlikely, but let's not equate Desean Jackson as a #1 WR. He is that deep threat that causes teams to respect the deep game, which is definitely a huge plus, especially for this offense, but he ain't a #1 WR.
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    The more things change...the more they stay the same. It's like deja vu all over again.

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    And it's not about want - I think it's highly unlikely we can afford to keep both. We'll see - but I'm skeptical there's room for both.


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    Quote Originally Posted by Elephant View Post
    I agree finding a #1 WR in the draft is highly unlikely, but let's not equate Desean Jackson as a #1 WR. He is that deep threat that causes teams to respect the deep game, which is definitely a huge plus, especially for this offense, but he ain't a #1 WR.
    I'm not saying he's a #1, I was addressing the previous notion that he's expendable because we can simply go draft a "true #1".
    Whether he's a true #1 or not, we need to hang onto him, until we're certain that we've found a suitable replacement.
    We let him go now, and immediately our offensive threats drop like a nosediving plane.
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    There seems to be conflicting reports on Desean. If what if posted below is correct, it appears that we will keep him.

    The Redskins indeed have a decision to make regarding Jackson, who for a second straight season will count for $9.25 million against the salary cap. While it’s a significant chunk of change, cutting him only saves $3 million.

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/...on-and-others/
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    I'm thinking that should go in the new BBQ thread.
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    Nice Work BB.
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    2 Redskins on All-Rookie Team

    2015 All-Rookie Team | NFL.com
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    Thanks for all the work you do on this BB!

    I depend upon your analysis every offseason. You present these prospects,peak my interest and then I go down the draft worm hole reading about them and looking for videos on them.

    In other words, you keep the "pilot light" lit when there's no football to be played.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Fear The Spear View Post
    2 Redskins on All-Rookie Team

    2015 All-Rookie Team | NFL.com
    Thanks for the link, it's a good read. Smith was an easy pick. I wasn't as sure Brandon Scherff would make the cut. Skins fans are familiar with him but wasn't so sure about people outside Washington and he had a rough start to the year. Not a knock on Brandon by any means but didn't know how well he was viewed compared to the other 31 teams. Good for him that he got some kudos and congratulations.
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