It can be argued that the Redskins offense was better in 2016 than it was the year before when we won the NFC East. What is pretty obvious is that the defense was not anywhere near playoff level. 2016 saw the Cowboys and Giants both invest heavily in areas of their team that needed the most improvement, and the results yielded great rewards. Overall, the division improved while the Redskins stayed stagnant.
So, where do we pin the blame on the Redskins inability to secure a playoff spot in 2016?
Kirk Cousins - When things go right, the quarterback gets all the glory. When things go wrong, the quarterback often gets most of the blame. Overall, Cousins' numbers were very good in 2016. He completed 67 percent of his passes for a franchise record 4,917 yards, with an 8.1 yards per pass average. His 25 touchdowns however, were down from 2015, and he threw one more interception than he did the prior season. The lasting memory of most fans will be his performance on New Year's Day against the Giants, in a "win-and-your-in" game. In that most important game, with their season on the line against a Giants team with nothing on the line, Cousins threw two interceptions, with just one touchdown, and was sacked four times. His interception at the end of the game to seal the win for the Giants was just mind-boggling. Aside from this final game of the season, Cousins also failed to show up against the Steelers, Cardinals and Panthers, the last two being winnable football games. Now, the man is looking to get paid like a top 5 quarterback in this league, but is he worth that investment?
Dustin Hopkins - Hopkins missed eight field goals and three extra points on the 2016 season. He missed just three field goals all of 2015. Some of his misses came at crucial times in football games, with the worst being the chip-shot in London against the Bengals that could have won the game in overtime for the Redskins. He had an easy field goal against the Lions that didn't find the net as well - we lost by three. His two misses on Thanksgiving against Dallas were costly too, as the Redskins lost by just 5 points. Sure, Jerry Jones may have opened a few windows in his spaceship stadium, strategically allowing light to blind Hopkins on at least one of his attempts, but these are things you have to deal with as a professional kicker in the NFL. When your only job is to kick a football; all practice long, you better damn well do better than 81 percent on the season!
Joe Barry - Joe Barry's defense was atrocious last season. His unit gave up an average of 378 yards per game, which put them at 28th in the league. They allowed nearly 120 rushing yards against them per game, and saw opposing backs average 4.5 yards per carry against them(27th in the NFL). They ranked 25th in the NFL in passing yards allowed per game(258.1). The Redskins tied for 28th in the league in rushing touchdowns allowed(19). Barry's unit finished near the middle of the pack in total turnovers, creating 21 on the season. They finished dead last in the league in allowing opponents to convert on third down, with a percentage of 46.63.
Scot McCloughan - McCloughan was hired as general manager of the Redskins in January 2015. The hiring gave him total control over the Redskins roster. So, we can all point the finger at the man who failed to give coordinator Joe Barry the necessary personnel to do his job. Defensively, McCloughan, who values building through the draft vs. flashy free agent signings, used the Redskins top pick in 2016 on TCU wide receiver Josh Doctson, even though the team returned Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, and second year player Jamison Crowder. Doctson played in just two games, and managed two receptions for 66 yards before being placed on season ending IR with a mystery Achilles injury. Meanwhile, the team sat by and watched as Scot's free agents flamed out. Stephen Paea, who signed a four-year contract in 2015, was released in the preseason. 2016 free agent additions Kendall Reyes(DT) and David Bruton(S) were released during the season. Ziggy Hood played a significant amount of snaps, but was largely ineffective. It got so bad that street free agents Cullen Jenkins and Donte Whitner were brought in mid-season. Neither were effective. All this team needed was an average defense to make the playoffs in 2016. McCloughan did not give us the players to make that happen.