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Redskins’ 2015 Offseason Review: The Offense And Special Teams

As we prepare for Redskins Training Camp, an in-depth look at their additions on offense and special teams during the 2015 offseason.

Washington Redskins Colt McCoy (16) and Matt Jones (31) practice on the field during an NFL football organized team activity at Redskins Park, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

Washington Redskins Colt McCoy (16) and Matt Jones (31) practice on the field during an NFL football organized team activity at Redskins Park, Wednesday, June 3, 2015, in Ashburn, Va. (AP Photo/Pablo Martinez Monsivais)

 

Significant free-agent signings and trade acquisitions: none

This, to me, is the most interesting aspect of the Redskins’ offseason: they did NOTHING of significance on offense when it came to free agency and trades.  What does that say to me?  They believe that last season’s offensive struggles were more of an execution problem than they were a talent problem – i.e., better play at quarterback and elsewhere will lead to better results.

 

Significant re-signings:

1. Quarterback Colt McCoy

When he was re-signed: March 19

How he was acquired: signed as a free agent on April 3, 2014

Age: entering his age-28 season

My take: You can make a pretty good case that McCoy was the Redskins’ best quarterback in 2014, leading the team in passer rating, completion percentage and interception percentage and leading the team to its biggest victory of the season (at Dallas on Monday Night Football in Week 8, during which he was terrific). Is McCoy someone who can be the Redskins’ next franchise quarterback? No. Is he a smart, dependable player who can capably guide an offense for a few weeks if needed? Yes.

I also think it’s incredibly telling that McCoy re-signed with the Redskins. As he said on ESPN 980 on July 24, he still believes that he can be a starting quarterback. Why would he come back to a team on which he is potentially again the no. 3 quarterback? The answer is because he sees opportunity. As much as we don’t want it, there is an at least decent chance that the Redskins have a quarterback carousel for a second straight season in 2015.

 

2. Tight end Niles Paul

When he was re-signed: March 6

How he was acquired: fifth-round pick in the 2011 NFL Draft

Age: entering his age-26 season

My take: Paul made the switch from receiver to tight end after his rookie season, and it was in year three of him at the position that we finally got some solid results: 39 receptions off totaling 14 receptions over his first three seasons. His blocking leaves a lot to be desired, but there is an upside to Paul worth exploring, especially given Jordan Reed’s durability concerns. Paul also is a quality special-teams player, having served as the Redskins’ special-teams captain during the second half of the 2014 season.

 

3. Offensive tackle Tom Compton

When he was re-signed: Feb. 27

How he was acquired: sixth-round pick in the 2012 NFL Draft

Age: entering his age-26 season

My take: Compton replaced Tyler Polumbus during the Week 7 win over Tennessee and then started at right tackle the rest of the season. Rookie Brandon Scherff will be the Redskins starting right tackle in 2015, relegating Compton potentially to the role of first-tackle-off-the-bench depending on Morgan Moses’ recovery from a Lisfranc injury suffered in practice last December.

Compton and linebacker Keenan Robinson, a 2012 fourth-round pick, were the ultimate results of the trade of quarterback Jason Campbell to Oakland for a 2012 fourth-round pick in April 2010.

 

4. Kicker Kai Forbath

When he was re-signed: April 16

How he was acquired: signed as a free agent on Oct. 9, 2012

Age: entering his age-28 season

My take: Forbath isn’t great on kickoffs, and that is a problem, but he doesn’t get enough credit for how good he has been on field goals: 59-for-67 (88.1 percent) over his three seasons, including two of the three best single-season field-goal percentages in team history (2012 and 2014; Mark Mosely’s 1982 is no. 1). Forbath finished 2012 17-for-18 on field goals over 11 games with the Skins and first in the NFL in field-goal percentage (94.4). He started the 2013 season just 4-for-8 on field goals, including having two field-goal attempts blocked in the first half of the Week 9 overtime win over San Diego, but ended the season having made 14 consecutive field-goal attempts. He went 24-for-27 on field goals in 2014, finishing tied for eighth in the NFL in field-goal percentage (88.9). That’s not production any Redskins fan should take for granted.

 

Draft picks:

1. Right tackle Brandon Scherff

Where he was drafted: first round (fifth overall) out of Iowa

My take: While the Redskins’ offensive line wasn’t the calamity many said it was over the previous two seasons, it clearly did need some upgrading. The hope, of course, is that Scherff provides that.

The positives: he’s tough, nasty and a very good athlete (played quarterback and tennis in high school, in fact). NFL Media’s Albert Breer reported that Scherff was third overall on the Redskins’ board, behind only Dante Fowler and Amari Cooper.

The negatives include Scherff being projected by some as being better at guard than tackle. You should almost never spend a top-five pick on a guard, especially on a team with as many needs as the Redskins. The Redskins passed on defensive tackle Leonard Williams, who at one point was considered a likely top-three pick but had a shoulder issue that concerned some, to take Scherff . Also, Scherff does have an injury history, as he battled through a knee injury in 2014 and had a severe ankle/foot injury in 2012 .

I also didn’t like that the Redskins only used about five of the allotted 10 minutes to make the pick. Not that it was likely that some great trade offer was going to come along, but what would have been the harm in waiting?

 

2. Running back Matt Jones

Where he was drafted: third round (95th overall) out of Florida

My take: This was maybe the most interesting selection by the Redskins in 2015 NFL Draft. Alfred Morris is entering the final season of his rookie contract. He is coming off the worst of his three seasons, though bad blocking had a lot to do with that. He also did not have a good 2014 when it came to pass protection and isn’t considered a major pass-catching threat, making him a two-down back. And running back is maybe the most devalued position in sports over the last 10 years. Was Jones brought here to replace Morris, as likeable and durable as he has been?

What stands out about Jones is his size (6-2, 231) and strength. This is a powerful, downhill runner who could be a perfect fit for offensive line coach Bill Callahan’s running scheme. He also seemed to be just fine in pass protection, though we won’t know for sure how he is in that department until we get to the regular season. Jones didn’t catch many passes at Florida (19 receptions over three seasons), so the extent to which he is an upgrade over Morris as a receiver is tough to tell. It’s also worth noting that Jones suffered a torn meniscus in his left knee in 2013.

 

3. Receiver/returner Jamison Crowder

Where he was drafted: fourth round (105th overall) out of Duke

My take: Crowder was a stud receiver at Duke, so the notion of him producing out of the slot for the Redskins shouldn’t be dismissed despite his size (5-8, 195). He actually finished his collegiate career holding Duke records for most TD receptions of 50+ yards (10), most consecutive games with 2+ pass receptions (41) and first in punt returns for TDs while sharing school standards for pass receptions (283; with Conner Vernon) and most games with 5+ receptions (34; with Vernon).

But this pick was as much about the return game as anything. Crowder had two punt returns for touchdowns in each of his final two seasons at Duke. He was an All-America selection as a return specialist in both 2013 (second-team pick by Football Writers Association of America, Sports Illustrated and Phil Steele) and 2014 (second-team pick by Lindy’s). The Redskins haven’t had a punt return for a touchdown in the regular season since Santana Moss’ in Oct. 2008. They haven’t had a kickoff return for a touchdown in the regular season since Brandon Banks’ in Oct. 2010. Crowder appears a lock to be at least the Redskins’ punt returner in 2015 and maybe more.

A supposed ex-girlfriend of Crowder’s posted photos and comments on Crowder’s social media accounts during the spring implying that she had been beaten by him. Nothing from a legal or NFL disciplinary standpoint has come from this.

 

4. Guard Arie Kouandjio

Where he was drafted: fourth round (112th overall) out of Alabama

 

5. Receiver Evan Spencer

Where he was drafted: sixth round out of Ohio State

 

6. Center Austin Reiter

Where he was drafted: seventh round out of Florida

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