With the holiday season in effect, I figured this was a great time to talk about what’s RIGHT with the Redskins, and what we can be thankful for versus the glaring negatives that we all are accustomed to being highlighted. Right now, I want to focus on the players. This team has a lot more talent than many may believe. There are bright spots that have fallen under the radar because of the lack of total team production. One thing that we have noticed about the Redskins is they seemingly never maximize the talent they have based off the wins and losses accrued.
The glaring offensive bright spot throughout this season has been wide receiver Terry McLaurin. He has continually been a handful for opposing defenders and the lone big play option the Redskins have possessed this entire season. The Redskins don’t target him enough. “Scary Terry”, as he has been deemed, has 40 catches on 68 targets this season. GET THAT MAN THE FOOTBALL MORE. It’s baffling to know this kid has only been targeted more than nine times once this year, and that was last week against the Detroit Lions when he received 12 targets leading to five receptions. The kid is dangerous and is clearly a more than viable option for this team moving forward.
The Redskins came into this season with question marks about the offensive line. The sentiment amongst prognosticators was that the left side was going to be an issue throughout the season. On the contrary; the left tackle and left guard positions have been the most consistently productive all year long. Starting left tackle Donald Penn, was a 36-year old free agent that the Redskins essentially brought out of retirement once they accepted Trent Williams was not reporting to camp. Donald Penn is a three-time pro bowler, so he knows how to play football, but most weren’t expecting him to be as reliable as he has going into week 13. Left guard Ereck Flowers has also been a pleasant surprise. Flowers has also been very durable and has continued to develop as a left guard as they are able to use his size and athleticism on pulls and traps.
To many, rookie Quarterback Dwayne Haskins has not been a bright spot in regards to his productiveness on the field. I won’t be as critical just yet as I have seen Haskins take strides in his decision making and poise in the pocket over the last few weeks. Last week in his first win as Redskins’ starting quarterback, Haskins stayed in the pocket in spite of pressure and made some tough throws under duress. Some he missed and some he completed, but he will get better at that as time goes on. He also used his legs effectively in spots. Dwayne missed a number of wide receivers that were open last week, and that is definitely not a positive. Accuracy can improve, and it will over time, as he continues to get more stable pieces around him that will help him develop faster. The Redskins have to exercise some patience with him and provide him with the support he needs.
The defensive side of the football has been a complete and utter disappointment throughout this season. With the talent they possess, you would think it would translate into quality football being played. That has not been the case. That said, there have been a few players that have been solid this season, but you won’t hear much about them while the team is not winning a lot of football games.
Defensive end Matt Ioannidis has been the most dominant and consistently disruptive player in the defensive interior. He currently leads the team in sacks with 5.5 and is constantly in the opposing team’s backfield. It’s not a stretch to say he has been the best defensive lineman on the team this year.
Cornerback Quinton Dunbar has proven he is without a doubt a starting cornerback in the NFL after coming into the league as a wide receiver. This season, it’s arguable that Dunbar has played at a pro bowl level. I’m not a big analytics guy, but the analytics have him rated as one of the top three cornerbacks in the league currently. His continued development not only as a player but as a leader on defense will be key to their progress past this season.
Free agent pickup safety Landon Collins has been solid for the Redskins this season more notably playing around the line of scrimmage and in the box as an additional linebacker. Where the team hasn’t reaped the benefits, is in his playmaking ability. We have not seen a lot of big plays in big situations albeit the team is rarely in those positions. Collins is always around the football as he plays hard and aggressive on every snap continuing to honor late Redskin great Sean Taylor.
Rookie inside linebacker Cole Holcomb has been a pleasant surprise as he is evolving right before our eyes into a cornerstone for this young Redskin defense. Holcomb has proven he can shoot the gaps in running plays, he can play sideline to sideline, and can cover in situations that call for it. The one thing Holcomb will have to continue to improve on is finishing tackles as ironic as it sounds for a middle linebacker. Holcomb has a nose for the football and has no problem meeting you at the point of attack.
Special teams received a big boost from Steven Sims Jr. last week, which gave the Redskins a much needed spark in their game against the Lions. All season, the Skins have been desperately needing some form of contributions from the special teams. Sims was finally put in a position to do so on special teams, and he made the best of it returning a kickoff for a touchdown, the Redskins’ first since 2015. Sims Jr. could serve as a featured return man on kickoffs and eventually punt returns if ever given the opportunity. It will provide a much needed jolt to the special teams as they search for ways to become more dynamic.
At 2-9, and no signs of a breakthrough, the Redskins should be focused on developing the players they plan on bringing back next year. They have to find a balance between developing players, but still put themselves in the best position to win football games. This Sunday against the Carolina Panthers, the Redskins will look to take another positive step towards the future as they build with this young nucleus. Wins may hurt the draft status of the Redskins, but they need to build confidence in these young players and their quarterback going into next season. They have to appreciate winning and know what it feels like. They need to know their preparation is reaping results. Hopefully, we continue to see these players ascend and are able to add some more names to this list by the end of the season. As you were…