The Redskins are in good standing following the first four games of the year. Yes, it is early, but through the first quarter of 2017, fans and media alike are impressed with what they have seen thus far out of Washington. As the San Francisco 49ers come into town on the 15th this week, here are the standouts to this point:
1. Bashaud Breeland – Like 2014 and 2015, Breeland has been lights out for Washington this year. He, along with others, did have a rough night against Kansas City, but there has certainly been more positives than negatives so far. Overall, Breeland has been physical with receivers, and sound in coverage, but is still looking to improve in the defensive takeaways department over the next 12 games.
2. Preston Smith – Smith was in the same boat as Breeland coming out of the Chiefs game, a rough night but that does not define his 2017 to date. Smith’s biggest issue for many was not talent, but consistency. Preston Smith showed up in spurts dating back to his rookie season, and this year may be the same situation, but I doubt it. Smith has had a sack in each of the first four games, and has made a name for himself as a force to be reckoned with in the defensive front seven.
3. Matt Ioannidis – The 2016 fifth-round draft pick has been one of the best interior defensive linemen this year, a total shock from his output a season ago. His power and instincts have been on display, and he has been a constant presence in the opponent’s backfield. If he, along with Jonathan Allen, are capable of producing at a high-level consistently, this is a great sign for the Redskins’ future as they are original draft picks of the team.
4. Chris Thompson – With over half of his 2016 total yards from scrimmage already being accumulated, Chris Thompson has become the Redskins best weapon offensively, with Jordan Reed being limited due to injuries. Thompson is the Redskins best running back (and perhaps overall offensive weapon,) and proves it with almost every touch he gets.
5. Greg Manusky – It has been only four games into 2017, but Greg Manusky (along with Jim Tomsula) has the front seven playing at a very high level. The Redskins defense ranks tenth to date in yards allowed, and 11th in rushing yards per game. Personally, I thought Manusky was a very good hire once Tomsula came aboard, and the old San Francisco duo has the front seven playing great compared to last season.
Honorable Mention: Ryan Grant, Vernon Davis, and Kendall Fuller.
1. Rob Kelley – Kelley has not been horrible or poor, however the second-year running back has not taken a strong hold on the starting position over Samaje Perine. This is a problem. Kelley has had issues in the open field eluding tacklers, along with missing holes at the line of scrimmage. The majority of Kelley’s yards this year can be credited to the offensive linemen.
2. Dustin Hopkins – Hopkins is only 7 for 9 on field goal attempts this year, however, the two misses are a continued trend from a season ago. It is clear Jay Gruden is comfortable with Hopkins to this point, and there is nothing wrong with that, but Hopkins has been anything but sure beyond 50 yards. I believe that distance is what makes kickers better than average.
Yes, the bad, only a kicker and a running back. Hey, it is still early, and the majority of the players to this point have been competent. Also, I am sure you noticed, there are no 2017 additions on the list of standouts, and that was intentional. The list I gave was based off returning Redskins, but you can let us know your list of standouts, returning or new, good and bad! Comment below with your thoughts.