WASHINGTON (WUSA) - For the first time in years, there's real optimism surrounding the Redskins heading in to the 2016 season and for good reason, because this team is going to be good. And this comes from someone who has always been very pessimistic about the Redskins and their chances. I can't see any scenario where this team does not defend the NFC East crown and for the first time since the 1990's, will go back to the playoffs in consecutive years.
The Redskins really do have a ton of weapons on the offensive side of the ball and that's why it's hard to imagine them not having a better season than 9-7 last year. QB Kirk Cousins, fresh off a career season in his first full year as a starter, is poised for an even better campaign because he has the likes of TE Jordan Reed, WR DeSean Jackson, WR Pierre Garcon new TE Vernon Davis, WR Jamison Crowder and don't forget about rookie first round pick WR Josh Doctson. If Cousins can continue to be a game manager and not make any real bad mistakes, then he should be poised for an even better season.
Just a few years ago, Cousins was the Redskins third string QB but confidence in himself never wavered and that included the coaching staff who never gave up on him as well. This off-season, Cousins said it was a relief to know that the job was his, with no one looking over his shoulder.
Now, the knock on Cousins was his inability to beat a .500 or better team last season and the year ended with Cousins losing to Aaron Rodgers and Green Bay in the playoffs. Cousins won't be in Rodgers' class anytime soon but another solid campaign and Cousins certainly would take that next step to being considered one of the better quarterbacks in the NFL.
I mentioned Jordan Reed earlier and he's another huge reason that the Redskins will be a very good team. The dynamic tight end had a breakout season in 2015, catching 11 touchdowns and nearly 1,000 yards receiving and that was just in 14 games. Reed has been dogged by injury throughout his short career but when he's healthy, Reed is one of the best in the game at his position. Reed's size and athleticism make him such a tough player to defend and the Redskins will target him even more in 2016.
"When he wants to be elite, he is elite" Cousins said about Desean Jackson. Cousins is right. Jackson is mesmerizing with the football, one of the fastest players in the NFL but at times he can make bad costly mistakes. If Jackson can stay healthy and be a team first guy, he could be in for a scary good season.
There's a big question mark surrounding the running back position but with all the weapons the Redskins have at receiver, will the running game be that important? Second year back Matt Jones is the starter for now but if he doesn't impress, get used to the name Robert Kelly who although undrafted, could see a lot of time for the Skins.
This is now Jay Gruden's third season as head coach and there's no question that the team responded to his leadership last year and he is fully respected in the locker room. This can only help the Skins success this year.
The Redskins have all the promise to make 2016 special and this team believes it can be. Sometimes, that's all it takes.