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Need to Know: Which Redskins will surprise in 2015?

May 11, 2015, 5:19 AM EDT


Here is what you need to know on this Monday, May 11, 80 days before the Washington Redskins open training camp in Richmond, VA.

Question of the day

A few days a week I’ll give an in-depth answer to a question submitted by a fan on my Twitter feed, via the Real Redskins Facebook page, or in the comments section here. On Twitter address the questions to me at @Rich_TandlerCSN with the #NTK hashtag. There will be a comment thread set up on the Facebook page and if you’re asking your question here, put “for NTK” at the start of the comment.

I love starting off the week with a little crystal ball type stuff. I’ll give you two players who could surprise in a positive sense and (even though you didn’t ask) two who will surprise in the sense that they will be unexpectedly disappointing.

Two up

SS Jeron Johnson—With only one NFL start in four seasons, Johnson comes in as something of an unknown. At 5-10, 212 he isn’t the big, physical type of player that is Scot McCloughan’s prototype at strong safety. But I think he’ll be a smart player who will always be in the right place at the right time. He’ll force some turnovers, and he’ll be a sure tackler. Johnson won’t be a Pro Bowl candidate but for a first time in years there could be a feeling that the strong safety position is settled for a while.

DE Jason Hatcher—Yeah, I know that he’ll be 33 before the season starts and logic says that he is likely to decline from his 5.5-sack performance last year. But this year he is surrounded by considerably better talent and that will help him more than the addition trip around the sun will hurt him. Double-digit sacks might be a stretch but I can see eight or nine.

Two down

CB Bashaud Breeland—He had his moments last year like the Monday night game in Dallas where he won a night-long battle with Dez Bryant. But he struggled at times, like against Odell Beckham Jr. in December. I see another up and down year for him with the down time landing him on the bench for a while.

WR Pierre Garçon—I don’t think that Garçon’s performance in and of itself will suffer significant dropoff. I just think that he will be targeted far fewer than the 105 times he was last year. The Redskins attempted 547 passes this year and rushed 401 times. Those numbers won’t flip-flop but if things go as they plan there will be more rushing attempts than passes. That could lead to Garçon playing very well and only catching 40-50 passes.


—It’s been 134 days since the Redskins played a game. It will be 125 days until they play another one.

Days until: Redskins minicamp starts 37; Redskins training camp starts 80; Thursday night Redskins @ Giants 136

If you have any questions about what’s going on at Redskins Park, hit me up in the comments. And I’m always on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

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In case you missed it

  1. troylok - May 11, 2015 at 6:34 AM

    My breakout guy is Trent Murphy. Here is why: The Redskins felt secure enough at the position that they let some very good OLB’s go by in the first round and waited until the second round to pick someone who is going to take some time to develop. Murphy didn’t rack up a bunch of sacks, but he is a smart player and he got better with each passing week. Remember, he wasn’t supposed to start last year but then Orakpo got hurt. I think he was viewed as a player that would need time to reach his peak.

    • dcfaninecuador - May 11, 2015 at 7:08 AM

      I agree. Don’t understand everybody talking about the “need” for another Outside linebacker. He wasn’t supposed to start but was thrown in as a rookie. While he didn’t set the world on fire, he wasn’t an embarrassment, either. With one season under his belt and the incentive of folks implying he wasn’t “good enough”, I expect big things from him this year.

    • captblood3000 - May 11, 2015 at 8:08 AM

      The Redskins defense couldn’t get off the field last year. This was a team failing, but the lack of sacks from Orakpo and Murphy was part of it.

      • troylok - May 11, 2015 at 8:45 AM

        captblood3000, and though you think Orakpo and Murphy were the reason for a lack of sacks, Mcgloughan made his free agent priority signings on the defensive line instead of at outside linebacker, and he passed on Vic Beasely in the draft. I’ll agree that the defense on a whole was not very good last year, but I think that was more because of scheme and poor play on the d-line and secondary. Murphy wasn’t outstanding, but he was solid.

        • Stephfan - May 11, 2015 at 8:50 AM

          Troy Murphy was ok at best nothing really speacial. He started for 6 or 7 games and the only thing he should is that he can guard against the run. But he didn’t look like he improved at all during season. He looked average like any other backup outside linebacker

      • captblood3000 - May 11, 2015 at 3:41 PM

        Really, Troy, go back and read what I wrote. I’m tired of stating the obvious and having someone twist it into a straw man.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 12, 2015 at 12:32 AM

      Preston Smith will not need as much time developing as you think. He is a player that already possesses technique in overpowering offense linemen. He can also play many positions along the D-line better than Murphy when he came in last season. I personally think Preston is too big for the OLB position. He’ll complement Murphy not compete against him.

  2. sidepull - May 11, 2015 at 7:47 AM

    I used to be hopeful for Ryan Grant. I think he will slide into oblivion. No breakout for him.
    I think Morgan Moses, with help from Callahan, finds himself as a regular starter when it all shakes out.
    Hope I am wrong about Grant and if Moses can have a decent recovery from his injury then I think he’s got a great shot with Callahan directing him.

    • Stephfan - May 11, 2015 at 8:43 AM

      How.can you say that about grant he has barley been given any time and in the limited action I seen he shown me he has the stuff. You have to put him on the field to produce ya know

      • sidepull - May 11, 2015 at 1:00 PM

        I was a big Ryan Grant needs a chance proponent and he may very well prove out when he gets a chance. I read some articles on why maybe he is not getting a chance and it makes me think I didn’t know as much as I thought. If all your basing your comment on is he hasn’t been on the field, all I am saying is maybe there is a reason for that.

        Check these out when you have the time:

        • Rich Tandler - May 11, 2015 at 2:01 PM

          I appreciate some good, thorough research and that certainly qualifies. But the reason that they drafted Grant and the reason they like him is simple–they love the way he works. He will get every ounce of production he can out of his ability.

          That doesn’t mean that he’ll be a great receiver or even a good one. But they are willing to give him a shot because they believe his effort will overcome his lack of athletic ability. We will see how it turns out.

        • Stephfan - May 11, 2015 at 2:51 PM

          Thank you rich

  3. kenlinkins - May 11, 2015 at 8:24 AM

    My long shot to surprise is Chester, playing center. This VET is not going to walk away from $4.8 million without a fight. He understands that if the Redskins cut Kory L they save $2.8 million vs. his $4 million. He has seen so many OG’s run at him over the past 3 years that one will soon remove him, but the center position could be wide open with a new O-Line coach on staff. IMO we will see a battle for the center position in training camp with Chester the winner.
    I also see Cousins having more improvement than the other QB’s on the roster. The new QB’s coach is not just here to help RG3. Cousins only had one real fault (INT’s and his reaction to them). If the new O-Line helps then Cousin has the shorter path to real improvement required to run coach Gruden system (which is going to be heavy on play action if they can get the power running game in order).

    • manchild157 - May 11, 2015 at 11:17 AM

      I like both of your choices Ken. Beefing up the power run game will enable Cousins to not have to carry the offense which led to his interceptions. I really hope you are right about Chester.

    • gasngo14 - May 11, 2015 at 1:11 PM

      I don’t get why we would keep a older and more costly player in chester?

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 12, 2015 at 12:40 AM

      I disagree on both players. Chester is too soft playing anywhere along a power blocking offense line. Lich is much more faster than Chester and can at least get out quickly to make down field blocks. I don’t see Chester being able to be a fit at all.

      As for Cousins, he is a poor man’s Tony Romo! He may be good as a career backup QB but I don’t think he’ll have be a quality starter.

  4. colorofmyskinz - May 11, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    Breeland will foster. He will relish in the wings of Culliver and the new front 7. He will impress this year even more than last. Murphy headed for breakout as well. I think Garçon needs to change his attitude and pick it up.

  5. Stephfan - May 11, 2015 at 8:29 AM

    Rich I agree with you on your up and downs besides garçon. But my ups are Preston smith and the Oline as a whole. I think the Oline will be or should be improved and I’m hoping that they are. My only down that I would add is Silas redd. I just think with Matt coming in he won’t get the chance to show us what he can do

    • Rich Tandler - May 11, 2015 at 12:07 PM

      I stayed away from draft picks here, very hard to set realistic expectations for all except top pick

      • Stephfan - May 11, 2015 at 12:15 PM

        True than I would go with grant

  6. O - May 11, 2015 at 8:46 AM

    I respectfully disagree with you Rich. I believe Amerson would be benched before Breeland. Also, Andre Roberts would be likely to regress. His body language in games last season was atrocious.

    • Rich Tandler - May 11, 2015 at 12:04 PM

      I think that expectations are so low for Roberts and Amerson it would be hard for one of them to be much of a disappointment.

  7. Paul - May 11, 2015 at 8:56 AM

    I wouldn’t use w game against Odbj as a bad game. He tore up every corner he faced.

  8. bowlregard - May 11, 2015 at 9:58 AM

    I have the same feeling about JJ and JH. Besides being surrounded by better players, Hatcher could come into this season healthier than he did last.

    Even if he gets fewer targets, improved line play and QB play should mean the passes will more likely hit their targets. Griffin could also do a better job of spreading the ball around. So I look for Garcon and Jackson to have stellar years.

    I don’t see any reason to be pessimistic about Breeland. Better safety play and a better pass rush should help all the DBs including Breeland. Plus he’s known as a hard worker and one who spends a lot of time studying film and so forth.

    The one I worry about most is Griffin. He has a lot to prove and has the hardest job.

  9. obxskins - May 11, 2015 at 11:06 AM

    The other safety is my down..Goldston is over 30 and sure had a terrible stint in Tampa. My up is Murphy as well. I look for him to be stronger and more sure of himself. He has a great motor and is a hard worker. Believe the OL as a whole will be improved because of better talent but mainly because of better coaching. #HTTR

    • ET - May 11, 2015 at 11:45 AM

      Goldston is a down for me as well. I think he’ll be erratic, and his play will prove that the Skins need to make quality safeties a higher priority.

  10. manchild157 - May 11, 2015 at 11:21 AM

    My up will be TE Paulson. He struggled with blocking assignments last year but hoping Callahan helps all auxillary blockers. Heard also that he’s in the best shape of his career.
    My Down has to be Griffin, but how much further down could he go?

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 12, 2015 at 12:48 AM

      Griffin plays the toughest position and has had to deal with extreme adversity so early in his career. When you compile a blown ACL that followed a coaching fallout then I think it is fair to say that the organization has failed RG3 more than RG3 has failed this organization. We’ll see how he fairs this season but to down him at this point is IMO unfair!

  11. ET - May 11, 2015 at 11:58 AM

    If they can manage to stay healthy, my ups are Keenan Robinson and Jason Hatcher, and, to a lesser extent, Perry Riley. All three will benefit from the increased strength and depth on the defensive line. Hatcher will be able to rotate in and out more often, keeping him fresh(er). Robinson and Riley will get better run support both upfront and from the OLBs. Barry will scheme better for the interior linebackers, who won’t be subject to the terrifying coverage mismatches we sometimes saw last year.

  12. jonevans511 - May 11, 2015 at 12:04 PM

    Rich: Your CSN colleague JP Finlay has an open thread post about DJ Swearenger’s imminent departure from the Texans. Any thoughts as to whether he’d be a good fit in Washington and whether Scot has him on his radar (not expecting you to be a mind reader re: Scot, just curious if any Skins reporters have asked him about the guy)? Keep up the great work, I rely on you & Tarik exclusively for my Skins news since I have the displeasure of living & working in Philly at the moment…..

  13. blkdrgn18 - May 11, 2015 at 12:37 PM

    I actually disagree slightly with this article. Bashaud Breeland was only a rookie last year and so I think he learned a lot from his experience playing against his opponents and with training camp this year and a few tips from DeAngelo Hall, I think he will play well this year.

  14. abanig - May 11, 2015 at 1:56 PM

    My ups: David Amerson, Phillip Thomas, Spencer Long, Ryan Grant and Chris Thompson. I think all these guys take the next step and become either starters or key contributors on their sides of the ball.

    My downs: Ryan Kerrigan, Dashon Goldson, DeAngelo Hall.

    I don’t see Kerrigan having quite the production he had last year, mainly because he won’t face two RTs who don’t belong in the league like the Jags RTs from week 2 last year. So, take away that 4 sack game and he’s right in the usual wheelhouse for him 8-10 sacks.

    Most Redskins fans won’t complain one bit about it or bring up the fact that he has 3-5 less sacks in 2015 than he was in 2014 because Kerrigan always gets a pass… Lol

    I think Goldson is going to be as bad as he was in Tampa or worse. I was NOT excited about his aquisiton at all.

    I think because of his injury, it’s going to be clear that Hall has lost a step.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 12, 2015 at 12:52 AM

      I’m somewhat disagree about Kerrigan but overall you make many valid points.

  15. bangkokben - May 11, 2015 at 7:04 PM

    My two surprises: Robert Griffin the Third and the Special Teams.

    The big elephant in the room is the possible 2016 $16M man. Everyone is either crossing their fingers that THE THIRD takes a giant step to becoming a franchise quarterback or they are hoping he never gets a chance. Surprise. He takes a big step – not big enough for some – but the non-football fans are fans again. The investment that the team makes around him are the difference.

    The special team units also surprise by being better than average coverage units and they actually score two touchdowns for the team.

    As for disappointments, there’s no need to go there but if you must it will probably be Kai Forbath.

    • redskinsnameisheretostay - May 12, 2015 at 12:55 AM

      I like your surprise choices and more so that I want both to happen than believe it will.

  16. bangkokben - May 11, 2015 at 7:07 PM

    How about Bama QB Blake (don’t call me Ba-lock-KAY) Simms joining the ‘skins rookie camp as a running back. He’d be an interesting 3rd down back.

  17. skinsgame - May 12, 2015 at 1:38 AM

    I’m guessing the addition of Callahan will have a huge effect on the line and Trent Williams will be a big surprise. He has his loyal followers here, no doubt, but he has been a disappointment in my opinion. He has not been a lock-down, tip top, left tackle. This year, he becomes the beast he should’ve been the whole time.

    • Stephfan - May 12, 2015 at 1:45 AM

      I’m sorry Skinsgame but you have to be the only skins fan that doesn’t wacth the games? Jk… But Trent has done well, been voted on the top 100 players and three straight probowls. You don’t get to those by just being a lack luster player no matter how popular you are.. And if was such a disappointment then who on the team was better because Trent is a top ten left tackle in the league a personally think top 5

  18. skinsgame - May 12, 2015 at 8:28 AM

    He’s done well. Sure. He hasn’t been a top 5 tackle, no. And he has the potential to be a top 3. For that, I say he has underwhelmed and I think this year he breaks out and finds a way to be a beast. Archives

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