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Redskins Season Review: Surprises, Outlook, Kirk Cousins and Josh Doctson

Five questions answered by our panel on the opening four games of the season and what the future holds for the 2016 Washington Redskins.

The Washington Redskins are four games into the 2016 season, which means we've had enough on-field action to start forming opinions. We asked the Breaking Burgundy team and some friends to do just that. Check out our Most Valuable Player contenders and read on for thoughts on surprises, disappointments, Josh Doctson and the future.

1) Biggest disappointment? 

Ben Standig: The handling of first-round pick Josh Doctson. More on this below.
Manny BentonKirk Cousins. The $20 million man is on a "prove it" deal and he knows it. Yet, Cousins has failed to play like a franchise QB this season.
Chuck Sapienza: Third-down defense has been a joke. The Redskins' third-down conversion percentage is at least 10 points higher than every other team in the league. And we aren't even talking about third-and-short conversions. Just horrific.
Joe GloriosoMy preseason prediction, but then again, I do this to myself every year. Must be in the water I'm drinking. A close second? The Redskins' run defense. When your answer at 3-4 nose tackle is over 30, lasts less than a game, and his replacement is cut before being brought back after Week 1, there should be no surprises when you can't stop the run. 
Neil DalalIt is hard to say the defensive line is a disappointment because not much was expected, but they have actually done worse. Chris Baker does not look like his 2015 self, Kendall Reyes just got cut, and there is no real nose tackle on the team.
Brent, Burgundy Blog: Glaring failure by the front office to upgrade a dismal front seven. I'm all for spending wisely and drafting "best player available," but even a rebuild should require some modicum of competency in the trenches.
Joe Yasharoff: If I'm picking a player, it's Ryan Kerrigan, who is not playing up to his contract. But you know what really grinds my gears? Pathetic tackling by the entire defense, especially the front seven. It is not befitting for a professional football team.

2) Biggest surprise?

Six of our seven answers were outside linebacker Trent Murphy. That's some consensus. Here's what we wrote about the pass rusher's rise last week plus some of the pro-Murphy responses and the outlier.
Manny BentonThe fact Murphy leads the team in sacks (four) is surprising. He put in hard work to make the transition to defensive end, which in turn helped him improve at OLB. 
Chuck SapienzaAll of the sudden, Trent Murphy is Dexter Manley. Through four games, Murphy has been the best pass rusher on the team and it isn't even close.
Burgundy BlogFrom position purgatory to pass-rushing predator? His drastic improvement is weird and awesome.
Neil Dalal: Kirk Cousins. Ever since the "You Like That!" game, he was lights out last year. He has even better weapons this year and a full offseason as the starter under his belt. Yet, the $20 million man seems to have regressed early in 2016 with his accuracy and decision-making.

3) Josh Doctson. Discuss.

Ben Standig: My concern isn't whether he should be shut down, though I'd hope the decision-makers err toward caution. It's not with the pick of Doctson himself, though I would have loved seeing the Redskins address the defensive line somewhere in the early rounds. It's not Doctson's fault that Stephen Paea and Kendall Reyes bombed, thus exposing the unit's weakness. My main question remains as follows: Why on earth did the organization feel the need to rush this prized asset back so quickly after he missed all summer with that Achilles issue? So weird, and now a lost season is possible. Oh, and the Redskins might not know what they have as they ponder free agents DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon next offseason.
Manny BentonThe Redskins should've placed him on the Physically Unable To Perform list to begin the season. He looked slower than usual and was not running routes well in the games he played. Even if he does get healthy, the missed time will impact his play. 
Chuck SapienzaThis was a pick made with next season in mind. The problem is the Redskins have gaping holes in their front seven that could have been addressed with that selection. I don't see him catching more than a dozen balls this season.
Joe Glorioso: He's really, really good -- in year 2 of my franchise mode in Madden. I've also taken some good pregame and practice pictures of him making crazy catches. Practice. We're talking about practice. 
Burgundy BlogHis ceiling is still sky-high, but his floor is on the bare ground. Scary.
Joe Yasharoff: What was the rush getting Doctson on the field? To justify picking him in first round? Let him heal up and play when he's ready, even if that means next year. The 'Skins have plenty of receivers, which gives them the luxury to be patient at that position.

4) One moment/aspect from the opening four weeks we'll look back on when recapping the season is...?

Ben Standig: If things go right, Matt Jones and the running game ramping up in wins over New York and Cleveland. If things go wrong, all the weirdness over why Josh Norman wasn't following star receivers, including the leaked rumor about the coaching staff not wanting to upset Bashaud Breeland.
Manny BentonIn one month of football, the Redskins rank dead last in third-down defense. There's a 57.4 percent success rate against them on that down, which is an astronomical amount. In my opinion, this points directly to defensive coordinator Joe Barry. 
Chuck SapienzaThe playcalling during the loss to Dallas at home. The playcalling was so out of balance that the 'Skins had no chance of winning. More balance and they could have been 3-1 at the quarter turn.
Neil DalalLosing to a rookie quarterback in his second career start. If the Redskins fail to win the division -- especially if it is by just one game -- they are going to kick themselves for losing at home to Dallas and Dak Prescott. It was inexcusable and will come back to haunt Washington with the schedule turning bleak.
Burgundy BlogAntonio Brown twerking in a FedEx Field end zone on the opening Monday Night. An unfortunate harbinger of damage yet inflicted.
Joe Yasharoff: I'm tempted to say Kirk's red zone pick versus Cowboys or the fake punt versus Giants, but instead I am picking Su'a Cravens' get-out-of-your-seat, end-of-game interception of future Hall of Famer Eli Manning that sealed the upset of the Giants on the road. If the Redskins lose that game, they're 0-3, and the season is pretty much over.

5) Playoffs -- Has your preseason opinion changed?

Ben Standig: Had 9-7 and no postseason. The latter remains intact, though I'd probably dial back on the wins unless they go at least 2-1 over next the three weeks in winnable matchups.
Manny Benton: Well, my preseason opinion was that the Redskins would not make the playoffs. If anything has changed, it's that I thought they would rank second behind the Giants in the NFC East. Considering the NFC East currently leads every NFC division in wins (10), I think the Redskins could drop. The division is stronger this season.
Chuck SapienzaI still think the 'Skins will make the playoffs. Their offense is too good and that has been with an inconsistent Cousins. If he relaxes and plays like last season, they could be a team that puts up over 30 points every week. With their defense, that is a ton of 31-28 games, but I still believe they can win 9-10 games.
Joe GloriosoYes, it has. No to playoffs. The Redskins' defense is simply not equipped to be a top-six team in the NFC at this point. Especially when you're allowing opposing offenses to convert 165 percent of third-down opportunities (slight exaggeration). 
Neil DalalThe Redskins still control their destiny but have created a tough road for themselves with other NFC East teams rebounding. Instead of winning the division at 9-7 and losing in the Wild Card game as previously predicted, I now see them finishing 8-8 and missing the postseason entirely
Burgundy BlogHad them as a fringe postseason bidder at 9-7, but leaned yes. Now, seeing a persistent fatal flaw (run defense) and a surprisingly competent NFC East, I lean no.
Joe Yasharoff: I thought the 'Skins were a 9-7-ish team before the season and I still think they're an 8-8 or 9-7 team. I thought and still think that they're a borderline playoff team in the difficult-to-get-a-handle-on NFC East.

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