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Need to Know: 11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins defense

Need to Know: 11 predictions for the 2017 Redskins defense

Here is what you need to know on this Thursday, July 13, 14 days before the Washington Redskins start training camp in Richmond on July 27.


The Redskins last played a game 193 days ago; they will open the 2017 season against the Eagles at FedEx Field in 59 days.

Days until:

—Franchise tag contract deadline (7/17) 4
—Preseason opener @ Ravens (8/10) 28
—Roster cut to 53 (9/2) 51

11 predictions for the Redskins’ defense

Not all of these can be characterized as bold, but here goes with one prediction for each of the 11 anticipated 2017 defensive starters for the Redskins.

DE Jonathan Allen—He’ll post six sacks and two forced fumbles. I think he’ll get off to a slow start as he adjusts to the NFL and gradually become a force in November and December.

NT Phil Taylor—The bold prediction here is that he makes the team and starts. Assuming he has been able to get his knees into shape during his two years on the sideline, he’s the most viable candidate.

DE Stacy McGee—He will break his career high in sacks. That’s not saying much because his best sack season came last year, when he had 2.5. But he will be a solid addition to the line.

OLB Preston Smith—He triples his career interception total, getting two more picks. Coverage is not necessarily his strength but I can see him batting one in the air at the line and picking it off and getting another one like he had against the Vikings, when the QB thought he was throwing it past him but Smith made the play with his length.

OLB Ryan Kerrigan—The least bold prediction I will make in this post is that he will get to double-digit sacks this season. He’s done it two of the last three years and missed out in 2015 by just a half.

ILB Zach Brown—He had a good season making plays last year but he was better as a rookie with the Titans. I’ll take the under on the three interceptions he got that year but I’ll go over on the two fumble recoveries and 5.5 sacks.

ILB Will Compton—He will start 16 games but play fewer snaps than Brown and Mason Foster. They like his smarts and ability to play chess at the line with the opposing quarterbacks. But they want more speed on passing downs and Brown and Foster provide that.

CB Josh Norman—Norman works hard to fix his flaws and he will get better at catching the ball. Put him down for six interceptions and a Pro Bowl selection.

CB Bashaud Breeland—Breeland has at least two interceptions in each of his three NFL seasons and he had three last year. Put him down for another three.

S Su’a Cravens—It’s hard to get a handle on him with the position change. But if he can get an interception as a nickel linebacker I have to think that he can get three at strong safety.

S D. J. Swearinger—He has forced one fumble in the last two season combined. Swearinger forces three this year.  

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerCSN and follow him on Twitter @Rich_TandlerCSN.

In case you missed it

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Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan throws some serious shade at Kyle Shanahan for the Super Bowl loss

Matt Ryan spoke to CBS Sports' Pete Prisco about the loss to the Patriots in the Super Bowl and how the Falcons will rebound in 2017. 

In the process, he took a shot at former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan's play-calling and put some of the blame on his style of coaching for the disastrous fourth quarter.

"Kyle's play calls -- he would take time to get stuff in," Ryan said. "As I was getting it, you're looking at the clock and you're talking 16 seconds before it cuts out. You don't have a lot of time to say, 'There's 16 seconds, no, no, no, we're not going to do that. Hey, guys, we're going to line up and run this.' You're talking about breaking the huddle at seven seconds if you do something along the lines.

"With the way Kyle's system was set up, he took more time to call plays and we shift and motion a lot more than we did with (former coordinator) Dirk (Koetter). You couldn't get out of stuff like that. We talk about being the most aggressive team in football. And I'm all for it. But there's also winning time. You're not being aggressive not running it there."

Those are some harsh words from Ryan and not exactly a ringing endorsement of Kyle Shanahan. This loss will surely haunt him should he never get back to another Super Bowl.

"There's always going to be a little sting," Ryan said. "You never lose that. Hopefully we've got four Super Bowl victories after this one, but that doesn't mean we won't still be like, 'Damn, let's talk about the other one we should've had."

Redskins fans may be able to relate to Matt Ryan's pain as some were vocal about Kyle Shanahan's play-calling during his time in Washington. Maybe Kirk Cousins takes notice of Ryan's comments as well before he considers San Francisco next off-season.


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Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Over/under: Redskins running backs in 2017

Redskins running backs over-under

The Redskins’ running backs depth chart looks quite different from how it did a year ago. Rob Kelley, who was “ninth-string” back last year per Jay Gruden, is the starter. Samaje Perine enters the mix with expectations that exceed those normally assigned to a fourth-round pick. Chris Thompson is the constant as the third-down back. What kind of numbers will they put up this year? Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and JP Finlay go over-under on some Redskins running back stats. 

Rob Kelley, 1,000 rushing yards

Tandler: If you project Kelley’s production in the nine games he started over 16 games it comes to about 1,050 yards. He had his ups and downs in those nine starts and he will have them this year. But he should have enough ups to be able to average the 62.5 yards per game needed to hit the thousand-yard mark. Over

Finlay: Unlike wide receivers, where 25 guys broke the 1,000 yard mark in 2016, it's getting harder and harder for a running back to hit four-figures. In 2016, only 12 RBs ran for more than 1,000 yards, and only eight got over 1,100 yards. As the NFL becomes more and more of a passing league, less backs are getting the carries sufficient for a 1,000 yard season. The Redskins haven't had a 1,000 yard rusher since Alfred Morris in 2014. While I think Kelley gets the bulk of the yardage, I think it caps out about 900 yards and Chris Thompson and Samaje Perine creep into the total. Under

RELATED: Who's next at QB for the Redskins?

Kelley, 10 rushing touchdowns

Tandler: He scored six as the starter last year and doing the math that comes to 11 over 16 games. But last year there wasn’t a player like Perine, who could come into the game and vulture some touchdowns after Kelley did the work to get the ball in goal to go position. Under

Finlay: Sorry to keep going back to stats, but last year only seven running backs got to 10 TDs or more. Only seven! Hard to see Kelley getting there on a team that didn't run all that much, or all that well either, in 2016. Under

Samaje Perine, 500 rushing yards

Tandler: It tough to set a line for a guy who hasn’t played. I’ll go off Matt Jones’ 2015 rookie season when he gained 490 yards while sharing time with Alfred Morris. If Perine averages four yards per carry, which is not hard to do, he’ll need about eight carries per game to get to 500. It’s close but if Kelley is effective, as I believe he will be, Perine might not get enough carries to have a chance. Under

Finlay: Tandler's Matt Jones comp pretty much works for Perine, but Jones had explosive speed that Perine doesn't have. A better comp for me was Derrick Henry last year as a rookie with the Titans. DeMarco Murray was established as the top dog, and Henry worked for a productive 490 yards. Under

MORE REDSKINS: Offer to Cousins not nearly enough

Chris Thompson, 60 pass receptions

Tandler: His role is beyond just third down. If the Redskins are behind in the fourth quarter, Thompson is usually in there to try to help spark a rally. Along with TE Jordan Reed and WR Jamison Crowder, Thompson will benefit from Kirk Cousins’ familiarity with him. Over

Finlay: Thompson should be a strong contributor in 2017, but 60 catches is a lot for a running back. Only David Johnson (80) and Le'Veon Bell (75) went over that number in 2016, while James White had exactly 60 catches. Thompson grabbed 49 balls in 2016, an impressive total. I could actually see Thompson getting a bigger percentage increase in carries, he had 68 rushes last season with a very solid 5.2 YPC, than catches. Under


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