Redskins controversial quarterback Kirk Cousins needs to be signed to a long-term contract...make no doubt about that. Did he put a small dent in his value with his lackluster performances in December/January? Probably a bit, but that's like splitting hairs. Fact is, he's the most successful quarterback we have here, maybe ever! The guy needs to be locked up until he's in his mid 30's, or until we finish 2-14 next year and can draft Sam Darnold from USC - but I digress...
The Redskins offense finished third in the NFL in yards per game averaging 403.4, and while doing so, broke the franchise record in total yardage in a season. They averaged 6.4 yards per play, which was good for second in the league, and were fifth in the league in 3rd down conversions at 45 percent; a key stat that can't be overlooked. Cousins broke his own franchise passing record(one he set last season), throwing for 4917 yards(3rd in the NFL), with 25 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. He completed 67 percent of his passes, and averaged 8.1 yards per completion(3rd in the NFL). To say this man needs to get paid is a mild understatement.
The receiving corps saw two players go over 1000 receiving yards: Pierre Garcon(1041) and DeSean Jackson((1005), while second year pro Jamison Crowder went for 847 yards as the number three option in the passing attack. Had Jordan Reed remained healthy all season, he would have likely come close to 1000 yards, but being that he only played in 12 games, and some of those 12 sparingly, his 686 yards were not too shabby. Veteran tight end Vernon Davis found the Fountain of Youth in his 11th season, hauling in 44 receptions for 583 yards.
The rushing attack lacked a feature back, but the duo of Robert Kelly and Chris Thompson provided the spark when needed. After taking over for the fumbling Matt Jones just around the halfway point of the season, the rookie Kelly, who was an undrafted free agent out of Tulane, picked up 704 yards on the ground, and added 6 touchdowns. His 4.2 yards per carry average was respectable, yet fell under Jones' 4.6. Thompson, at just 5'8" 195, averaged 5.2 yards per carry, while rushing for 356 yards and 3 scores. His biggest impact came in the passing game, where he caught 49 passes for 349 yards and 2 more touchdowns.
All said and done, the 2016 Redskins offense could sure move up and down the field!
But this is only half the story.
The concern for the 2016 offense was points scored. For as prolific an offense as the Redskins had, they managed just 396(24.8 points per game) points scored, which ranked them 12th in the NFL. Their biggest problem was touchdown percentage in the Redzone.
The Redskins ranked 29th in the league in Redzone touchdown percentage at just 45.90 percent. To put this into perspective, the Browns, 49ers, Jaguars and Bears all ranked above them, and these are the four worst teams in the league. The Redskins had no problem moving up and down the field on teams, but when it counted, they had trouble putting six on the board.
2017 holds a bright future for this offense. First, assuming the Redskins sign Kirk Cousins to a long-term contract, he will be entering his third full season as a starter in Gruden's offense. Year three and four are usually when you see the biggest jump in growth from a young quarterback, and even though Cousins will be entering his sixth year in the league, from a games played perspective, he's still considered young. He's always had a high completion percentage, and I expect that to remain above 65%, but where he needs to improve is in his touchdown-to-interception ratio.
It may be a bit dificult early on in 17', as the Redskins may lose either Jackson or Garçon; or possibly both. Waiting in the wings is promising second year player Josh Doctson. Doctson, at 6'2" and 205 pounds, with a 40" verticle and 4.5 speed, will provide Cousins with the big target he's been missing. Not only can Doctson outrun defensive backs, but his height and incredible leaping ability should be a huge asset in the Redzone.
Opposite Doctson, we could see the emergence of another big-bodied second year receiver in Maurice Harris. The 6'3" 200 pound former Cal Bear played in 10 games for the Redskins this past season, catching 8 passes for 66 yards, and showed good blocking on run plays to the outside. What is interesting about Harris, is that he can also play a bit in the slot, where he is a mismatch for smaller defensive backs. The combination of Doctson and Harris should improve the Redskins Redzone efficiency in 2017.
The running back position worries me...I'm not going to lie. I don't see Kelly as a feature back, and we know Thompson can't shoulder the load. I don't know if Matt Jones will even be a Redskins next season, as it looks like he's going down the path of draft bust. But, I guess in today's runningback-by-committee approach, we could be ok. It would still be nice to see a more complete running back, like Florida States Dalvin Cook, be drafted by the team, but that is just a pipe dream.
The biggest impact for 2017 in my opinion will be felt on the offensive line. This is a unit that helped protect Cousins all season surrendering just 23 sacks. We are set at four of the five positions, and the one with surrounding questionmarks, left guard, is one of the easiest positions to fill. Whether we look internally, or go outside the organization to fill the void, I still like our returning starters. The biggest addition by subtraction was Spencer Long taking over at center for an injured Kory Lichtensteiger. Long's presence on the interior gives us something we haven't had here in years - a big, strong, young, smart starting center.
The final piece of this puzzle is to improve the defense. By doing so, and having a defense that's able to get off the field on third downs and help flip field position, the offense will get even more opportunities, and hopefully, many of those opportunities will be on a short field.
Overall, I expect this offense to be even more prevalent, especially in areas that count, such as Redzone touchdown percentage, and yards per carry. If we can accomplish this, and fix our defense, this team could be one for the history books!
How do you feel about our offense going into the offseason? What areas would you look to improve? Please share your thoughts in the comments section.