by Jakob Cole

After consecutive disappointing losing seasons in which Washington won only seven games combined, this year the Redskins surprised many people by what they accomplished in 2015. Washington defied all expectations and won nine games in route to claiming the NFC East crown and a spot in the playoffs. This division title marks the only the second time in the last 16 seasons that the Redskins have won the NFC East. Washington’s season ended with a home playoff loss to the Green Bay Packers.

By far the biggest surprise in Washington’s season was the fantastic play from fourth-year quarterback Kirk Cousins. Cousins, a back-up for the first three years of his career, excelled in his first year as the starter in the place of Robert Griffin III. He led the NFL in pass completion percentage at 69.8%, was 10th in passing yards with 4,166, and was 5th in passer rating at 101.6. In addition to these startling stats, Cousins improved as the season went on. In the last 10 games of the season, Cousins threw for 23 touchdowns and only 3 interceptions.

“Honestly, I did not expect this type of play from Kirk this year. He was amazing, especially late in the season,” said sophomore Ahmad Ghousheh. Cousins had an admirable performance in the postseason, completing 29 / 46 passes for 329 yards and one touchdown.
Washington’s most important playmaker down the stretch of the season was third-year tight end Jordan Reed. Hampered by injuries for much of his career up to this point, Reed was able to stay relatively healthy this season, playing a career-high 14 games. Reed compiled 87 receptions, 952 yards, and 11 touchdowns in 2015 (all career highs). Reed finished the season with a fantastic game in Washington’s long playoff game, catching 9 passes for 120 yards and one touchdown.

Although the Redskins were by far not the best team this year, they did change the perception of their franchise. Once known as a franchise that constantly finished last and was filled with controversy, the Redskins were able to shed all of the distractions this year and accomplish their goals. Looking towards next season, Washington has one major free agent that might leave: the aforementioned Cousins. If the Redskins can retain their quarterback, the future is looking bright in Washington.