Here is what you need to know on this Friday, January 15, 60 days before the start of NFL free agency.
Five Redskins who will have to step up in 2016
Here are five players who did not necessarily play poorly in 2015 but need to take their games up a level or two to help the team improve.
G Brandon Scherff—He was good, at times very good. And he only missed one offensive snap all year. But to justify being the No. 5 overall pick in the draft he needs to grow into a dominant player. Scherff has the tools and the attitude to do it and the sooner he gets there the better.
RB Matt Jones—He showed that he has the ability to be a legitimate offensive weapon with some long runs and some big gains on screen passes. But he fumbled four times and was maddeningly inconsistent. Jones talked about working to improve and to stay healthy but we’ll have to see it in action.
DL Stephen Paea—There is likely to be a starting job open on the DL due to the possible retirement of Jason Hatcher and Paea, who signed a four-year, $21 million free agent contract last year, should be the one to step into it. But he played just 221 snaps before spending the last four weeks of the season on injured reserve with a toe injury. Paea needs to raise his level of play and become a competent starter or at least a solid rotational player who participates in 50 percent of the snaps.
OLB Ryan Kerrigan—This could be just a matter of Kerrigan staying healthy. Although he won’t say it, it sure looks like the repaired knee that kept him out of OTAs was still hampering him early in the season. From week 11 on he was on a pace that would have produced about 14 sacks over a full season. If he can keep up that pace for 16 games throughout the 2016 season the Redskins defense will be that much better.
CB Bashaud Breeland—If he continues the progression he has been on the last two years there is no reason why he can’t be a top-level cornerback. What might help him most would be an improved pass rush by the players up front. If there is more disruption of the quarterback’s rhythm he should improve on his interception total (4 in two NFL seasons).
—The Redskins last played a game five days ago. It will be about 240 days until they play another one.
—Days until: NFL Combine 40; NFL free agency starts 60; 2016 NFL draft 104
In case you missed it
Well it looks like the name many considered to be the Redskins top choice at defensive coordinator is off the market. Adam Schefter broke the news of Gus Bradley to the Los Angeles Chargers.
The Redskins interviewed Bradley early in their process of selecting a new defensive coordinator. His latest gig ended poorly after he was fired as head coach of the Jacksonville Jaguars, but Bradley's best success came as defensive coordinator with the Seattle Seahawks.
When he served in that role with Seattle, Bradley worked with Scot McCloughan. And prior to his coaching stint in Seattle, Bradley coached in Tampa, where he worked with both Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden.
Those connections, and his success in Seattle, had many fans hoping Bradley would take over for Joe Barry, who Washington dismissed more than two weeks ago.
The connection between Bradley and the Chargers comes as no surprise, and it leaves Washington still in need of a defensive boss.
Mike Pettine probably jumps to the top of the ranks of other coaches the Redskins have interviewed, but it still seems internal candidate Greg Manusky could be in position to move up to coordinator. Manusky spent the 2016 season as outside linebackers coach and has prior coordinator experience.
The Skins have also interviewed Dennis Thurman, last of Buffalo, Jason Tarver, last of San Francisco, Rob Ryan, also last in Buffalo, and John Pagano, last with the Chargers.
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The Redskins are reported to have a new quarterbacks coach. Normally that is not news that moves the needle much but if the report proves to be accurate the move has some big implications for the Redskins coaching staff.
First, about the coach. Kevin O’Connell was most recently an offensive assistant with the 49ers. Prior to that he was a quarterback who spent time with the Patriots, who drafted him out of San Diego State in the third round in 2008, Lions, Jets, Dolphins, and Chargers. He only saw the field the Patriots and he attempted just six passes. His addition as the Redskins’ quarterbacks coach was reported by Fox Sports.
Related: Redskins offensive coordinator resume: Matt Cavanaugh
The thing is, the Redskins don’t officially have an opening for a quarterbacks coach. The job is held by Matt Cavanaugh. However, the Redskins do need an offensive coordinator since Sean McVay left last week to become the head coach of the Rams. Moving Cavanaugh, who played quarterback in the NFL for 13 seasons before starting a 23-year career in coaching, to offensive coordinator, seems to be the logical move to make to many.
If O’Connell’s addition to the staff does indeed become a reality, that would all but confirm that Cavanaugh is getting the promotion. Nothing is official until it’s official but this seems to be the way things are heading.
Stay tuned to CSNmidatlantic.com for the latest.
Stay up to date on the Redskins! Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page www.Facebook.com/RealRedskins and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.