Sunday, May 22, 2016

Is This The Year The Offense Takes Off And Produces Consistently?

This is a huge year for the Redskins and Kirk Cousins. With the franchise tag given and a young QB drafted, Kirk Cousin will have to take a step forward in his game in order for this team team to take the next step. The rookie Josh Doctson is another weapon on this potent yet inconsistent offense.

Going into his 3rd season at the helm, this year is usually the
make or break season for a coaching staff. Jay Gruden must
improve in several aspects of coaching for it to happen.

 Going into the off season the big question was,  are the Redskins gonna give Kirk Cousins the big payday or designate him the franchise player. Now with negotiations underway and Kirk going into his second full year as starter there is more pressure to produce after the numbers he put up last season. If he produces and progresses this season we are sure to see a long term deal in the range of 20 to 25 million a year. The pressure is on because of the plethora of talent at the WR spot, teams have tape and will gameplan tougher for him this year and he will have tougher defenses to contend with also. This offense as a whole was inconsistent last season, that was in part to execution, preparation, game planning and bad play calling at times. These things will all need to improve and become consistent in order for this team to progress and reach its ultimate goal. I'm gonna break down the offense position by position and give my player to look out for just like my article last week on the defense.

With this being the third season in Jay Gruden's offense, everyone
should be ready to play without thinking about what they have to
do because it should be second nature by now.
Quarterbacks: The Redskins believe they have their franchise quarterback in Kirk Cousins but want more then a season sample before paying him franchise quarterback money. I totally agree. I'm not a Kirk Cousins fan but I also am not a hater. I applaud his season last year but still sees holes in his game that I'm hoping he corrected or is in the process of correcting. It's very hard to improve arm strength but you can improve your intangibles. I would love to see him settle in and become the QB the team believes he can be. I like the drafting of the big QB Nate Sudfeld out of Indiana. We all know what Colt McCoy is, and that's not taking anything from him. This young, undeveloped, strong armed quarterback is a interesting prospect to me and another back up plan in case Kirk falters in any way down the line. Always need to have a young QB in the system learning, just in case. With Jay Gruden being an ex quarterback coach and Matt Cavanaugh being one of the best Qb coaches in the game, there is no reason why Kirk shouldn't progress.  With a very talented group of skill players, all he has to do is find a way to get them the ball. My player to watch, of course is Kirk Cousins. This offense goes only as well as Kirk goes. With a top flight TE, a deep and full receiving corp, and better hands coming out the backfield. There's no reason this offense shouldn't be in the top 10 this upcoming season.

Running Backs: With the departure of Alfred Morris the offensive backfield is very
Matt Jones will have to step up and show and prove that letting
Alfred Morris walk via free agency was a good idea. The rookie
Keith Marshall will push Jones to play better.
young and inexperienced. This is the youngest backfield that I can ever remember. The veteran in the backfield is Chris Thompson of all people and he has only three years of tenure (one of those spent on IR). There are still talks of the team re-signing Pierre Thomas, who Jay Gruden really likes but he stated in a earlier press conference that "we'll see what happens with Pierre". Matt Jones as on right now is the penciled in starter going into the season. With the team drafting Keith Marshall out of Georgia in the seventh round, I see a stiff competition at training camp. Jones of course will have the upper hand having a year under his belt but if his fumbling issues continue it would open the door for the rookie. After watching tape on the rookie it's apparent he has the speed, vision, hands, elusiveness and toughness to make it in the NFL. His hands are above average and we all know how much Jay likes to throw out the backfield and call screens. Chris Thompson will be on the bubble in my opinion being that the rookie seems to be a bigger version of him. The team also has Mack Brown a second year player on the practice squad that has elite speed also. The team signed a couple of undrafted free agent running backs as camp bodies but with a open competition, who knows who will end up making the roster. My player to watch is Keith Marshall, I really like this kid and believes if he gets the chance to show what he can do, he will flourish and excel.

This could be Pierre's last season with the team. He's always
been the toughest receiver on the field in my opinion. His
toughness, run blocking and fierceness will be missed.
Wide Receivers: The receiving corp is the most costly position group on the team (salary cap wisse) and the most needed for this team to go. Since the team acquired DeSean Jackson two years ago, the team has become more explosive then ever. Still inconsistent and in need of another weapon to take the pressure and coverage off the deep threat, The emergence of Jamison Crowder last season was a pleasant surprise and ultimately led to the releasing of Andre Roberts last week saving the team 4 million in cap room. The drafting of 6 ft 3 inch Josh Doctson signals to me that this team think it's found it's missing piece. With Pierre and DeSean being free agents at the end of the season it was necessary to get someone in the mix just in case both walk via free agency. Ryan Grant is another quality receiver but his size limits where he can effectively lined up. But still has some of the best hands and run the best routes of most in the receiving group. The team also signed a couple of 6 ft plus receivers out of college, so competition should be and will be at the highest level we have seen in years. I actually have two players to watch, Josh Doctson and Jamison Crowder. This could possibly being our starting WR tandem next season if neither Pierre or DeSean re-sign with the team. Crowder showed his potential in the slot and on the outside and Doctson's size and hopefully the ability to get on the field and produce in his rookie season will be a big factor.. If so that will go along way into determining who the team will resign or if they would re-sign either of the elder statesmen of the WR corp. If that happens then this position group would drop from the most expensive very quickly which I'm sure was in Scot McCloughan thought process when drafting the rookie in the 1st round of this years draft.

Tight Ends: Going into this season one of my biggest concerns was the status of our
With the addition of Vernon Davis, Kirk Cousins has 3 big
legitimate red zone targets. This offense has all the
potential to be explosive, the question is....will it.
playmaking TE Jordan Reed. When the news broke that the team has extended his contract for five more years, let's just say I was extremely excited the team had locked him up for the next 5 years. He and DeSean Jackson are the X factors in this offense and needed to be retained. I'm a big fan of keeping your own homegrown talent and I hope the team continues on this path moving forward. Also have Niles Paul returning after yet another injury. I still feel he can be a dynamic TE in this offense but I fear this may be his last shot here. The signing of Vernon Davis signaled to me that the team has concerns about Niles's durability. I've been a Nile Paul fan since the team drafted and converted him to TE, I just hope he can stay healthy and show what he can do. He's been a special teams standout since we drafted him and I believe that's what has helped him stay on this roster. Then you have Logan Paulsen (The Lumberjack) who isn't as much of a fan favorite because of his limited offensive arsenal but I love his blocking and his special teams play. Once again the team drafted another young prospect in Micheal Cooper out of Indiana.  My player to watch of course is Jordan Reed. If he can stay healthy he can break and surpass all the single season
 records for this team.

The offense will only go as far as the o line take them. Bill
Callahan has already put his stamp on this unit. Consistency
and execution is a top priority this season.
Offensive Linemen: Last but definitely not least is the offensive line, the most important position group on the offense. Without proper blocking and protection it doesn't matter how many explosive weapons the team has. The Pro Bowl tackle Trent Williams is the foundation of this line blocking the blindside of the QB and Morgan Moses made great strides at becoming a NFL right tackle. The main issue for the last few seasons has been the interior of the line. The guards and the center position has been an issue, either with staying healthy or execution. Fans forget before Shawn Lavauo went down in week 5 of last season the offense led the league in rushing and Alfred Morris led the NFL in rushing. To me the center position needs to be addressed, the team is satisfied with Kory but I believe his under 300 lb frame hurts our offensive line as a whole. Currently there is one other center on the roster and he's about the same weight and height, about 6 ft 2 and barely 300 lbs. For the first time in several years the team didn't draft a offensive linemen but did sign several UDFA after the draft. All of the new players are 6 ft 3inches or taller and 310lbs and bigger. Scot has always said he likes big lineman that have good quick feet. This will be another highly contested battles in training camp to see what player can help solidify a inconsistent line. One way to help the line is by Jay sticking with the run game more, game planning better and learn to make adjustments on the fly. The line has to be built to run the ball so when./if the team has a lead late in the game that they have the ability to run the clock out by grinding it on the ground. My players to watch are both at the guard spot. Josh LeRibeus and Spencer Long. Both are big and strong that will have a shot at starting at both guard spots and help improve the line. If these two young studs can step their game up under the coaching of Bill Callahan our O line will be much more physical at the point of attack.

 As always, thanks for reading. Last week I had the most reads since I first started writing. Don't forget to tune in Mon nights for my show with my co host Robbie Gross at 7 pm. You can stream it live through Tru Radio Network or can listen live or actually call in with any questions or comments about my article or anything D.C sports related. The show is called Sports On The Hill Podcast. Go like the page on Facebook or go follow on Twitter @SportsOTHP. Hope to hear from you Mon night. #HTTR4LIFE #dcRising