Eight Major Keys to Skins’ 2016 Success

For the team to repeat as NFC East champs, this group must show and prove

Featured image by Bernard Gagnon (Own work) [GFDL, CC BY-SA 3.0, GFDL or CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

Three days away from what could be a #TerribleTowel infestation at FedEx Field, the brass in Ashburn should have come up with a can of Redskins Deet or Off instead of burgundy towels— let’s look at the eight players that hold the keys to a successful 2016.

In reviewing the schedule one last time, barring catastrophe I see the good guys going 8-8 at worst. While a best case scenario would probably put them at 11-5. We’re all adults here, so you know what catastrophe means. I personally choose not to type out what could trigger that kind of scenario (color me a touch superstitious), so let’s just move around.

The Four Major Keys to Any Form of Team Success

Kirk Cousins – …

Jordan Reed – 86 is the best receiving tight end in the league, period. Without Gronk’s sheer size, he’s just as much of a match-up problem due to his own, plus his speed and route running ability. A willing blocker to boot, it’s fair to say that what we saw from Reed last season is the new norm for him.

Josh Norman – Greenwood, SC’s finest is a very important piece for a number of reasons. One of them being, making up for the loss of Junior Galette. Madden’s number one rated corner, brings swagger, toughness and pure cover ability to a squad that ran through players at the position last season due to injury. In a passing league, the name of the game is pass rush. Making the QB hold the ball a little longer, always helps.

Will Compton – if you listen to anyone around Redskins Park, you’ll hear more than a few say that Compton is a very intelligent football player. Filling in at both ILB spots last season, it’s arguable that the defense performed better with him on the field. With that in mind, having him as your day one starter is imperative, to at the least, equaling what the defense did last year.

The Four Major Keys to Reaching Max Potential

Preston Smith – we don’t need Preston, to be Junior Galette (there’s that name again). But we do need him to start the season the way he finished the last (6 sacks, 1 FF and a PD in his last four games including the playoff game). During the preseason, Preston looked really good setting the edge against the run, which is a good thing w/him moving into a full-time starter role. If he can equal last season’s 8.5 sacks, cool. If he can push that number closer to the 10-12 range like his ability suggests he could, bonus.

DeSean Jackson – although always a threat, DJax has kind of ebb & flowed between his really big seasons throughout his career. He starts 2016 in great shape and is fully healthy to start the season. Could one of those explosive game-changing years be on the horizon? If so, add a new dimension to an offense that moved the ball well through the air last year with him only playing 9 games.

Brandon Scherff x Morgan Moses“we are one” (word to MAZE featuring Frankie Beverly). All in all the pair had a solid 2015 as a tandem. Now we need them to take the next step, both in run and pass pro.

DeAngelo Hall – a.) needs to stay healthy b.) find a mix between playing the technique of his new position and being the ballhawking player, he’s always been. Free safety has been a revolving door in DC for over ten years. If WAS can get a close to full season out of Hall here, combined with Norman and Breeland outside– the secondary should show marked improvement.

There are a number of other guys that did not make either of these two lists, but that is not due to their lack of importance. On the contrary, I didn’t include them because I kind of expect them to continue on their recent paths. Your Chris Baker’s, your Bashaud Breeland’s, your Trent Williams’ etc.

Additionally, I really wanted to include Matt Jones on the second list, but I talked about him already this offseason. Let the big guys get some shine. Plus if they improve, his job becomes easier right?

Does the burgundy & gold’s running game need to improve? Yes. Does their run defense need to improve? Yes. But I wanted to hammer out a list before the season starts okay? The people like lists.