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Ten Yard Fight: Way Too Early 2017 Redskins Predictions

From our vantage point smack dab between free agency and the draft, here are ten predictions for the 2017 season that will almost certainly never happen. Unless...

Washington Redskins v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Evan Habeeb/Getty Images
  1. I’ll start where I have lived since the beginning of the 2015 season: Jamison Crowder’s rise. Nobody has ever accused me of being a fan of anything Duke-related—until now. With the emergence of a much larger set of castmates, I believe Jamison will enjoy even greater success than he did in 2016, when he set career highs in receptions, yards and touchdowns (still a young career...haha). He had 99 targets in 2016, which averages out to just over six per game. When you consider that Kirk was spreading the ball around to guys like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and even Chris Thompson, it is easy to see that Crowder’s role was significant and meaningful. I am not sure about a gigantic increase in targets, but I think we are seeing Cousins and Crowder evolving into a very confident duo. With the departure of two 1,000 yard receivers, I would expect Kirk to lean on Crowder at times this season to move the ball. Assuming that Kirk Cousins is going to stay prolific in the passing game, it says here that Crowder has his first 1,000 yard season.
  2. In 2017, throwing to a remodeled wide receiving corps, Kirk Cousins will prove his true value. You want to take away his two most veteran receivers? No problem. You want to make him play on one-year deals every year? No pressure is felt on his side. For the third straight year, Kirk Cousins will set a new Redskins single-season passing record, breaching the 5,000 yard threshold for the first time.
  3. Kirk Cousins’ passing accuracy will be at or above 70.0% this season. His career high was 69.8% in 2015, followed by a small dropoff in 2016 (67%). He’s an accurate passer, and it is only a matter of time before he eclipses the 70% level.
  4. I can’t just make 1,000 yard predictions about all of our receivers, even though 5,000 yards can be spread out rather generously. How about this instead: Josh Doctson will start the season healthy and in our starting lineup. While bold on its face—since Josh has yet to play for the Skins—we certainly expect our #1 overall draft pick from last season to make an impact on the field. This prediction is just to attempt to ease the concerns of so many Redskins fans who have a fear that he will never play another down of football. After all, we do live in the era of swift exits from the league that seem to come out of nowhere.
  5. Staying on offense for one more prediction, I am looking into my crystal ball and seeing Terrelle Pryor lining up in the wildcat. Given I don’t favor taking the ball out of Kirk Cousins’ hands much if at all, it would have to be a very specific and defined scenario. As you all know, I think the two-point conversion is incredibly under-used, and this could be a great spot to put a beastly human being like Pryor behind center. I’ll always remember watching the Arizona Cardinals use a younger Anquan Boldin in this fashion. In the era of missed extra points, increased usage of the two-point attempt seems inevitable...although it is not lost on me that elevated reliance on going for two is more likely to get a coach fired than anything else.
  6. I always get accused of being too optimistic, so I thought I would try and bury one teeny little negative, pessimistic prediction in here. Everything can’t be at its rosiest. With that in mind, here goes: Jordan Reed won’t play 16 games. There, I did it. I kept the lipstick off the hog there. I mean sure, he has never played 16 games in a season, but I am not here trying to convince you this will be the first time. I feel like I have made some real personal growth here.
  7. Back to seeing this upcoming season for what it is: an inexorable march to Super Bowl glory. We need some defensive predictions. How about a Junior Galette shot? It says here that Galette packs a punch coming out of the preseason for the Redskins. Just saying he makes it to week one would be crazy enough, but I am going to stake Junior Galette to 9.5 sacks in 2017, up from the zero career sacks he has in his Redskins career. The kicker here is that his contract is incentive-laden, meaning the better he performs, the more he impacts our salary cap in the next 12 months. Let me be the first to suggest I would gladly face that problem head on.
  8. I would go with a Kendall Fuller comeback prediction here, but I won’t just do a blanket wish that all three of our top picks from last year will magically be 100% healthy. I am also tempted to make individual turnover predictions, but let’s take a more team-focused approach. In 2016, the Redskins were a net zero (0) in turnover differential. Obviously, half of this calculation falls on the giveaway side, but with 21 giveaways in 2016, the Redskins were dead in the middle (15th) here. I would like to think we can always improve there, but we need more turnovers than the 21 we got last season (17th in the league). We simply must be net positive in this statistic, and I am predicting that the Redskins succeed in jumping up to +6/+7 territory, which would have been good for top ten in the league. This could be the result of one or two less fumbles by a running back (come on Matt Jones!), one or two less interceptions from Kirk (red zone interceptions to the Cowboys for example) and a few more turnovers from our defense.
  9. Let’s focus on the possibility that we could see an improvement against the run. The Redskins were 24th against the run in 2016 (, which just isn’t going to cut the cheese. Up front, I have spoken about the impact I expect Jim Tomsula will have on our defensive line. Hopefully, Terrell McClain and Stacy McGee will add some value. Hopefully, the team will add defensive line talent in the draft. If so, Tomsula should be able to get more out of his run defense. With both Su’a Cravens and D.J. Swearinger on the field together, I am not convinced our coverage will be all that elite, but we should be far better against the run with these two hitters on the field. Zach Brown represents a talent infusion in the middle of our defense as well. I don’t think we are all of a sudden talking about the ‘85 Bears, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to see the Redskins finish at or above 15th in the league against the run. It would require most of this to all go right, but let me underline my belief that Tomsula is the right coach for this job.
  10. I guess if we are doing way-too-early predictions, I ought to throw in a wins prediction to chew on and set as a baseline starting point in the never-ending discussion. I am not going game-by-game here—that will come once we get the full schedule released. I am not even going to break down where every win and loss will come from. From a 10,000 foot level (I’ve always found this to be an interesting saying, because from 10,000 feet, I can’t see jack), I believe Kirk Cousins is a quarterback that can get you to at least eight wins. If our defense solves some of its problems on third downs, I think that could be worth at least one or two wins. (Any red zone improvement would be baked into my thoughts on Kirk Cousins.) I’ll start the road to my annual 10-6 rationalization with a strong 9-7 prediction for the Redskins in the 2017 season.

If you haven’t already done so, check out Hogs Haven’s Official Redskins podcast, The Audible. This week, we went on the clock to make pressure-filled draft day decisions.