It’s June and September football is right around the corner. This is the third year of the rebuild and despite Scott McCloughan leaving, this is the year the Redskins front office promised us everything. With high expectations, it seems like fans and beat writers only want to comment on the negative things – so i’m going to try to provide Redskins fans with positive thoughts and vibes.
DISCLAIMER: I don’t necessarily think any of these predictions will actually happen but all are very real and have potential.
Junior Galette picks up where he left off two years ago with 12.5 sacks
Junior Galette spent the last two years on the injured reserve with two separate achilles tears. As you may know, tearing your achilles is no easy injury to return from, let alone tearing it twice. Many Redskins beat writers and NFL reporters have already counted Galette out and they don’t think he can return to being the pass rusher he once was. Its fair to speculate that he may never be the player he once was but I think differently.
Why its not insane
Many believe that Galette strictly won with only explosion and athleticism and that is simply not true. Galette dominated in New Orleans because of his football intelligence, snap anticipation, elite hand technique, effort, and his natural pass rushing instincts. Not only does Galette seem to have the hand technique of a mixed martial artist, he also has the mentality you want in all of your football players. Galette is not only looking to bounce back on the field but also help repair his image off the field. “I’m worried about getting my name back to a place where people can say, ‘Hey, that is a mature young man that is a professional.’ That’s what I’m worried about. I’m worried about my son being able to search my name three, four years from now, and there’s nothing negative about me.” As he told Mike Jones (Washington Post), in January 2016.
Galette will being rushing the passer across from Ryan Kerrigan who Galette has recently called the best pass rusher hes ever played with. Not only will he be teaming up with Kerrigan, he will be playing along side rookie phenom Jonathan Allen. The expectations are low but the pieces are in place and Galette has a chance to destroy one-on-one matchups in 2017. Although Galette may lack some of the juice he once had, the NFL needs to take his effort, instincts, and overall pass rushing technique very seriously. If you believe he doesn’t have the athleticism he once had, just realize that is not how he wins anyways. If healthy, Galette is poised to have a bounce-back season in 2017.
Optimistic Stat Prediction: 13 sacks, 30 tackles, 2 forced fumbles.
Kirk Cousins makes a run at the 2017-2018 NFL MVP
When I think MVP I think of Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Peyton Manning. Kirk Cousins is scrutinized mostly for his poor play in big games and most NFL fans won’t ever consider him as an MVP candidate. However, NOT SO FAST, I think Cousins should be taken very seriously as an MVP candidate in 2017.
Why its not insane
Look, I’m not here to be a homer and tell you Kirk Cousins is an elite quarterback but the Redskins offense should be taken very seriously. Cousins threw for nearly 5,000 yards and 25 touchdowns in 2016 despite his ugly regression in the redzone. In 2015, Cousins threw 22 touchdowns and 0 interceptions in the redzone. With the addition of big and physical receivers like Josh Doctson and Terrelle Pryor, Cousins should be able to get back to his dominate redzone ways, as he exemplified in 2015.
If Cousins can get back to being dominate in the redzone, we are looking at a quarterback who could potentially throw for 5,000 yards and 30+ touchdowns, a feature that has only been met by Tom Brady, Drew Brees, Dan Marino, Peyton Manning, and Matthew Stafford. All of those numbers and a NFC East title would catapult Kirk Cousins into MVP consideration, and its a prediction that doesn’t seem so insane after all. Regardless, he’s sure to be a big force in fantasy football yet again in 2017.
Optimistic Stat Prediction: 5,100 yards 37 total touchdowns 10 int’s
Bashaud Breeland makes his first pro-bowl in 2017-2018
After the 2015 season, Bashaud Breeland was poised to become one of the best up and coming cornerbacks in the entire NFL. Unfortunately, Breeland ended up regressing in 2016 and was scrutinized on many occasions for firing off the hip from his twitter account and not taking a liking to the coaching on the defensive side of the ball. However, Breeland wasn’t the only player on the defensive side of the ball who had an issue with the coaching and should be forgiven by the Redskins fan base in 2017.
Why its not insane
Although Breeland took a step back, the talent hasn’t disappeared. Breeland yielded the lowest passer rating while defending in the slot, per Pro Football Focus. Breeland was also dealing with some confusion in the secondary partly due to poor coaching but also due to the constant rotation of poor safety play. With Su’a Cravens moving back into the secondary and the addition of DJ Swearinger, Breeland should feel less pressure when defending receivers on the outside.
Not only do the Redskins have two new safeties, they also have added to their pass rush and hired a new defensive backs coach that should also benefit Breeland in 2017. We also can’t forget about Josh Norman, who will yet again garner most of the attention in 2017. Quarterbacks will be looking to exploit Bashaud Breeland but in a contract year my money is on Breeland bouncing back with 5-7 interceptions and lock down coverage that will ultimately throw him into pro-bowl consideration.
Optimistic Stat Prediction: 73 tackles, 2 sacks, 2 forced fumbles, 6 interceptions
Jay Gruden makes a run at the 2017-2018 NFL Coach of the Year award
Despite the crazy off-season in the Redskins front office, Jay Gruden managed to ink an extension to remain head coach through 2021. Gruden doesn’t nearly get enough credit for leading this team to back to back winning seasons for the first time in two decades. Gruden is one of the better up and coming head coaches in the NFL and he deserves to be treated like one. He’s loved by his players and has helped contribute to the culture change within the Washington Redskins locker room.
Why its not insane
The Redskins have won 17 games over the past two seasons with one of the worst defenses in all of football. Gruden coached his team to a winning season in 2016 despite dealing with a historically bad third-down defense. The Redskins defense has added a new coordinator and a ton of talent including; Jonathan Allen, Zach Brown, DJ Swearinger, Terrell McClain, and Ryan Anderson. Adding this talent alone should move the Redskins defense out of the bottom five and it will be up to the players to launch this defense into the top half of the NFL. If the Redskins are able to remain dominant on offense and improve on defense, there is no reason the Redskins can’t compete for the NFC East division and win 11+ games. If Gruden were to win another NFC East title and lead this team to 11+ wins (without a General Manager), he would become one of the favorites to win a NFL Coach of the year award in 2017.
Zach Brown makes a run at the 2017-2018 NFL Defensive Player of the Year
Zach Brown had a surprise year and was a pro-bowler for the Buffalo Bills in 2016. He spent his first half of the season playing like a defensive MVP but started to decline during the second half of the season which ultimately lead to him signing a one-year ‘prove-it’ deal in Washington.
Why its not insane
“I want to win defensive MVP”, Brown told ESPN.
Zach Brown is an athletic freak with 4.5 speed and was a tackling-machine for the Buffalo Bills. Brown will be in position to make a ton of tackles in 2017 but he’s also an underrated pass-rusher. In Greg Manusky’s attacking-style defense, Brown should have plenty of opportunities to line up over the a-gap and rush the quarterback.
In a defense that will rotate a combination of Ryan Kerrigan, Jonathan Allen, Junior Galette, Preston Smith, and Trent Murphy, Brown will have plenty of chances one-on-one with pass protecting running backs. I think Brown landed in a really good situation in Washington and if he can play the last eight games like he did the first eight in Buffalo, he definitely could be in contention for a defensive player of the year award.
Optimistic Stat Prediction: 160 tackles, 6.5 sacks, 3 interceptions