There are all levels of heat these days when it comes to sports take. All those levels are represented below as I ponder what's to come with the Washington Redskins' 2016 season. Which is which will depend somewhat on whether you agree or think WTH is that.
* Jamison Crowder becomes the go-to third down target for Kirk Cousins -- I actually wanted to say most "trusted", but I can't get into the man's brain. The two formed a nice connection during Crowder's rookie season and that continue throughout the season. At 5-foot-8, Crowder ties Chris Thompson or shortest on the team. That makes difficult to target at times, but his shifty route-running and ability to play bigger, not to mention a pair of reliable hands, help out.
* Kendall Fuller passes Quinton Dunbar on the depth chart -- Fuller is a rookie and one who barely played during his final season at Virginia Tech because of a knee injury -- and yet he has far more experience at corner than Dunbar, a converted receiver who shocked the masses with his good work last year. Fuller might be the odd man out on game day's early in the season, but Redskins GM Scot McCloughan stated after the draft that the Good Counsel product could have the biggest impact among the first-year crop.
* Matt Jones is poised for a breakout season...except he can't stay healthy and then Robert Kelley takes over -- Like McCloughan, I've been touting Jones this season. Yet I've also been impressed with Kelley since the early offseason workouts. Physically, Jones is the choice. Football instincts, Kelley looks the part with his vision and cutting ability. If both stay healthy, the workload move into the 60-40 range. Fearing it won't based on Jones's history, Kelley emerges, finishing with the higher yards per carry average.
* Mason Foster loses his starting ILB job...to Terence Garvin. -- The inside linebacker spot is brimming with intrigue largely because of Su'a Cravens and his highly anticipated hybrid role. Will Compton's rise from deep backup to a defensive stalwart is remarkable. There's also the return of Martrell Spaight, who looks like a tackling machine as Compton's primary backup after missing nearly all of last season with a concussion. Foster helped solidify the unit when he entered the lineup last season. Solid player. Garvin, signed from the Steelers, might have a bit more dog in his game. As he told me during the preseason, "I'm making the team. I'm trying to get some playing time." That aggressive nature rocks on special teams. At some point it will on defense.
* Bashaud Breeland worked on becoming more of a playmaker. He scores more touchdowns than Chris Thompson -- The dogs days of training camp in Richmond seems like forever ago, but one of the early storylines involved Breeland getting an interception during each practice session. With teams shying away from Josh Norman, the third-year cornerback will get plenty of chances for me. He turns some of those chances into scores.
* DeSean Jackson scores at least 10 touchdowns for the first time in his career -- I've stated my case all over the place for a monster campaign from Jackson, both for the Redskins and fantasy football owners.
* Preston Smith leads the Redskins sacks and is named to his first Pro Bowl -- I made the Pro Bowl claim way back in May and nothing I saw this summer has me changing my mind. Actually, I take that back. Noticing that Smith, who finished his rookie campaign with five of his eight sacks over the final three games, transformed his physique entering season two gives me even more reason to buy into the hype. "It made me hungrier knowing I finished so strong," the outside linebacker told Breaking Burgundy. "I just want to strengthen my game this season. Start a season off as strong as I finished. I want to start the season off great just as I finished off last season and the end the season greater than I finished last season."
* Offensive coordinator Sean McVay becomes the next head coach of the Buffalo Bills -- Sorry, Rex Ryan.
* Josh Doctson will find the end zone more than any Washington wide out named DeSean Jackson -- The first round pick won't have tons of catches during his rookie season, but he'll be efficient when it comes to scoring six.
* Josh Norman makes the Pro Bowl...and yet some the perception will end up he wasn't worth the $75 million contract -- Receivers make plays in the NFL. Last year they didn't when pitted against Norman. Some will break free this campaign and when they do, all of his boastful comments will be thrown in his face. Who cares. Norman, typically the last player off the fiel during practice, provides Redskins with their best CB play since Champ Bailey
* The Redskins run defense is actually worse in 2016 -- Washington ranked 26th last year in total rush yards allowed and 31st in yards per attempt (4.8). Players can improve, but it's hard seeing how the Redskins improved based on their DL. Maybe Ziggy Hood's impressive work this summer carries over in a transformative way. Otherwise...
* Based on the movie reference I previously used when discussing Kirk Cousins' contract situation, seems appropriate that I repeat myself. From the Breaking Burgundy season prediction's post:
I love the movie Groundhog Day. I fear we may live it next season. Cousins shows he's legit, but perhaps not quite to the point where the organization wants to make it rain, thus putting the threat of another franchise tag on the table. Let's hope we at least get a Bill Murray cameo. By the way, the DeSean Jackson scenario starts sharing contract talk headlines at some point.
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