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Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2016

Jan 15, 2016, 5:21 AM EDT

Breeland-Beckham

Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 15, 60 days before the start of NFL free agency.

Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2016

Here are five players who did not necessarily play poorly in 2015 but need to take their games up a level or two to help the team improve.

G Brandon Scherff—He was good, at times very good. And he only missed one offensive snap all year. But to justify being the No. 5 overall pick in the draft he needs to grow into a dominant player. Scherff has the tools and the attitude to do it and the sooner he gets there the better.

RB Matt Jones—He showed that he has the ability to be a legitimate offensive weapon with some long runs and some big gains on screen passes. But he fumbled four times and was maddeningly inconsistent. Jones talked about working to improve and to stay healthy but we’ll have to see it in action.

DL Stephen Paea—There is likely to be a starting job open on the DL due to the possible retirement of Jason Hatcher and Paea, who signed a four-year, $21 million free agent contract last year, should be the one to step into it. But he played just 221 snaps before spending the last four weeks of the season on injured reserve with a toe injury. Paea needs to raise his level of play and become a competent starter or at least a solid rotational player who participates in 50 percent of the snaps.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—This could be just a matter of Kerrigan staying healthy. Although he won’t say it, it sure looks like the repaired knee that kept him out of OTAs was still hampering him early in the season. From week 11 on he was on a pace that would have produced about 14 sacks over a full season. If he can keep up that pace for 16 games throughout the 2016 season the Redskins defense will be that much better.

CB Bashaud Breeland—If he continues the progression he has been on the last two years there is no reason why he can’t be a top-level cornerback. What might help him most would be an improved pass rush by the players up front. If there is more disruption of the quarterback’s rhythm he should improve on his interception total (4 in two NFL seasons).

Timeline

—The Redskins last played a game five days ago. It will be about 240 days until they play another one.

Days until: NFL Combine 40; NFL free agency starts 60; 2016 NFL draft 104

In case you missed it

  1. patljr7 - Jan 15, 2016 at 5:31 AM

    Paea might be put in as a starter due to a possible retirement? Hatcher I’m assuming?

    • Rich Tandler - Jan 15, 2016 at 9:26 AM

      Meant to indicate that it was Hatcher who might retire, fixed, thanks.

  2. Bryan - Jan 15, 2016 at 7:13 AM

    I think if pot roast his back he needs to elevate is game to how he seemed to play towards the end of the year and I think he can do that just by coming into the season in shape. Prolly wasn’t in shape till last half of year. Also I’d say spencer long and whoever is center. Those seemed to be the weaker links on line and def hurt running game. Chris cultivar as well I don’t think he was playing that well when he was healthy, maybe how he was being utilized I’m not sure. And finally my favorite player Kerrigan , I know he was hurt early but I think how he was being utilized in run defense wasn’t the best, they had him crashing inside and not setting edge like he use to atleast that’s what I saw a lot. So maybe as far as defense goes its joe Barry that’s needs to step up and utilize his guys better.

    • Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:20 AM

      I think pot roast is only good in goal line situations… With Kendrick golston and Jason hatcher gone that leaves to open roster spots…who knows if frank kease ready to step up I’m pretty sure if he was he would’ve got more playing time then he did so its a lot of decisions scot m. Gotta make…they already is ahead of the game for the off-season signing talent off the streets

  3. babyteal1 - Jan 15, 2016 at 8:54 AM

    Chris Culliver is on the top of my list. I saw nothing in him even when he was healthy that merits his contract. Prove me wrong Chris and actually make a play.

    • metalman5150 - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:31 AM

      I’ll never forget how maddening it was to watch Culliver hit Greg Olsen, knock the ball into the air, and return the interception for a pick-six,…. only to be flagged fro unnecessary roughness for the hit on olsen that knocked the ball loose.

    • brucefan1 - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:55 AM

      Agreed on Culliver.

      Sure there may have been a lot of reasons for what looked liked less-than-expected results from CC (including exaggerated expectations on our part, maybe?), but, like you, I think he has to really step up next season in order to become anything better than “meh”.

      Rich’s inclusion of “Breshawd” was an important on too, imho.

      Tho I love what this guy who came outta no where has given the Skins, he still needs to get better. I don’t think I was the only one here who noticed how successfully the Pokes targeted him in the season’s penultimate game, and that the Packer’s gameplan early on Sunday seemed to include a heavy dose of short passes in his area in order to counteract the heavy pass rush they anticipated. (That is until they realized there would be no serious rush from the Skins and that they could run pretty much any routes they wanted to.)

  4. sidepull - Jan 15, 2016 at 9:00 AM

    I gotta include Cousins. Beat some teams over .500. I know its a “team” job to beat teams with winning records, but still, lead them to some victories, extend plays and its funny that stepping up is the theme because it would help him it seems if he would step up in the pocket more. He won some nice games this year, coming back from 24 down at TB. But if he wants that money…. Well I just I bet the Redskins are going to require more from him this year. And I can bet that if he falters there will be those “I told you so” folks, salivating and waiting to unleash their pent up frustration with the whole Gruden, Cousins, Rg3 history. It should make for an interesting season. HTTR

    • Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:13 AM

      I agree next season is huge for kirk cousins but its even bigger for jay gruden…kirk cousin strength is no huddle and hurry up offense they did non of it against the packers witch I think threw kirk cousins game off…I said it once and IMA say it again three guys can’t call plays it leads to penalties they have to change that

      • brucefan1 - Jan 15, 2016 at 11:11 AM

        Did somebody just mention “Jay Gruden” as a possible inclusion on this list?!

        If he wants to be the head coach that breaks the NFC East’s pattern of a new champion every year, or contends successfully with what will be a “first place” schedule Gru, too, will have to up his game. (Or maybe add a few more outstanding assistants — a la the god-sent Bill Callahan last off-season!)

  5. Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:02 AM

    Stephen paea was flat out bad… Breeland and Ryan kerrigan just Need to be pushed and how you push them ? With better depth at they position it will bring the best out these guys…these guys was handed the job because there’s no good depth behind them

  6. Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:09 AM

    Personally I would like to see Preston smith get a little bigger and put his hands in the dirt his long arms can beat most guards he got 8 sacks against some great Tackles in the NFL….Trent Murphy might not be here next year he lost his starting job to a rookie that had a way more productive year then his two years he been in the NFL

    • ifthethunderdontgetya™³²®© - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:15 AM

      People get hurt though. You want to keep a guy who is still on that rookie contract and can step in and start.
      ~

      • Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:29 AM

        You really think scot m. Not gonna add more pass rushers…don’t forget about Houston Bates he’s a undrafted guy who is capable of stepping up there’s gonna be better options out there…his first NFL snap he got a sack against Dallas witch is hard to do against they Online…we not keeping players who don’t make progress year by year… Trent Murphy got bigger but still don’t know how to get after the QB…I remember it was one play Trent Murphy try going after the QB he got pushed to the ground and just stayed there and watched until the play was over it reminded me Albert haynesworth I was laughing I was like that kid don’t know what he’s doing he’s lost

        • brucefan1 - Jan 15, 2016 at 11:32 AM

          Ya have a point about Murphy, but don’t be so quick to part ways with young players, as long as they’re showing development — which I think Trent did this season. May never be a scary pass rusher, but if he can develop as a run-stuffer that would be good too, no? I’m with those who say give him and Preston some time to grow .

          As far as Smith playing more with his hand in the dirt… sure, that was his main role last season. But I’d also love to see them BOTH develop skills that would make them better all-around OLBs, not just edge-rushers. (Imagine a beast like Smith with a multi-faceted skill set?! But then maybe that’s not their plans for him.)

          Finally, that pass rush HAS to improve, as you say. But I’d love to see more push up the MIDDLE. (Hatcher never quite measured up, huh? Too old when they signed him? Cashed in on only one top season, maybe?) But a inside guy with push, or an ILB that knows how to get home (like a Sean Lee? Those guys grow on trees … right?!!) would be awesome!

          Cmon Scot … hook us up! LOL

        • bangkokben - Jan 15, 2016 at 12:16 PM

          The drop off from Smith to Murphy is sizable but the drop off from Smith to Bates is like the grand canyon. They can find a place for Murphy (ILB,OLB, DL). Bates is nothing. He’s the 2015 version of Gabe Miller.

  7. Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:31 AM

    I really like what I seen from DL Corey Crawford in the preseason he might make the team next season if he keeps improving

  8. Mr.moneylover - Jan 15, 2016 at 10:38 AM

    Don’t forget about this guy…he don’t need to STEPUP but you might here his name a lot next off-season and during the season…TE Marcel Jensen scot m. Love this guy and was surprise that bills kept him on the practice squad with his talent…jay gruden said he was sign to contribute to the team next season…I seen him this guy is huge he’s gonna be a big target for kirk cousins

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