Breaking Burgundy goes one-on-one with Sports Illustrated's Andy Benoit, the NFL analyst who ranked Robert Griffin III among the worst starting quarterbacks in the NFL. After a lengthy QB-heavy discussion on topics including RGIII's specific struggles, who should Week 1 and Benoit's take on Cousins becoming a NFL starter, we move on to other aspects of the Redskins.
Breaking Burgundy: I recently ranked the 40 most valuable Redskins for 2015. I'm springing this on you, but who tops your list?
Andy Benoit: One that comes to mind is Trent Williams. Not so much for pass blocking, though that's important too, but because that kind of athleticism in that rushing style attack Bill Callahan has is going to be a critical piece. We saw that with Tyron Smith last year in Dallas. So that would be one for me. I think you put Ryan Kerrigan in there. Who else...
BB: I put Chris Culliver third. Not that he's one of the five best corners in football. However, when factoring in the other corners on the roster, the receivers in the NFC East and the modern era passing attacks, the Redskins needed a significant piece in that spot.
AB: I wouldn't quite put Culliver that high, but that's because I don't think that highly of his game, at least not compared to the contract he got and what I think they're expecting out of him. He was a little bit inconsistent for a variety of reasons in San Francisco. But, I get your point because they don't have a whole lot at cornerback. That's been a problem. If Culliver doesn't stay healthy, they're biggest problem remains.
BB: Last season I ranked Jason Hatcher most valuable on defense. He remains important and they need him on the field, but not the most valuable this season simply because they now have more help on the line with Terrance Knighton and Stephen Paea.
AB: They're going to run a 3-4 and you at least need guys who can stalemate up front. Hatcher is a unique player because he's a 3-4 guy who can get penetration. I would probably put ahead of him -- this defense is not very good. (The Redskins) are going to have to outscore teams to win a lot of games. If that's the case, I think Jordan Reed and DeSean Jackson - when they're on the field together - probably round out my top 5 for most valuable.
BB: The Redskins won four games last year. You just said the defense isn't that hot and we started the interview discussing issues at quarterback. Do you somehow see enough positives to think they could go 8-8 and perhaps contend for the NFC East title or are we looking at another down season?
AB: I can see them pushing to be .500. If they get decent play from the quarterbacks and keep in mind (Jay) Gruden is good with quarterbacks. He had a guy (Andy Dalton) in Cincinnati where the goal was basically to get decent play and throw a lot of talent around him. (Gruden) was able to do that.
Defensively, I'm curious to see what (defensive coordinator) Joe Barry does with them. I liked (Jim) Haslett, but the more I thought about it last year, the more I think the defense got over-stressed by the scheme, putting (players) in position that were just too much to ask given the talent that they had.
Barry comes from San Diego. Their scheme, the way they used the 3-4, their changes in coverages, they did a very good job of minimizing deficiencies and putting guys in favorable positions. He was a good coordinator for them. I think the defense will improve a little bit. If the defense and the QB improve 15 percent, then this is probably a 7-9 type of team.