Redskins linebacker Will Compton was named a defensive captain in 2016, and while the defense struggled as a whole, he made strides in his first full year as a starter.
Will Compton finished his first year as the full time starter at inside linebacker for the Washington Redskins. Going undrafted out of Nebraska has led Compton to play with a chip on his shoulder and his hard work is starting to pay off.
The pending restricted free agent wants to return to Washington healthy and better than the previous year.
"I'd love to be here," Compton said on returning in 2017. "I just had meetings and I feel like they're going to love to have me back. In my eyes, I'm coming back next year and again I just need to get healthy now and get ready to put a good product on the field for them next year and I'll be the same leader I have been. I know for me it's get healthy, get this knee healthy and put a better product out for last year."
The Redskins defense was injury-plagued since the beginning of the season. Compton became the last standing captain for the defensive side of the ball for most of the season until suffering a knee injury against the Eagles in December, forcing him to miss a game.
The Redskins defense struggled, finishing 28th overall, including 24th in run defense and 25th in defending the pass. It also struggled to get off of the field on third downs and create turnovers, areas the team will have to improve potentially through both the draft and free agency.
"You want it to be a quick fix and you expect it to be," Compton said. "As a player you think you're going to get it corrected right away. But when it's not and then you can take a deep breath, step back, look at it all, you can manage the thought and maybe I'm just justifying it, but you're like, okay, it obviously wasn't meant for us to get it turned around in one year. For whatever reason it wasn't meant for us this year. However the ball rolls, whether we got calls, sometimes when we played bad, sometimes when we played great, sometimes lost a game, win a game, win a game, drop two, win two, for whatever reason it wasn't meant for us this year."
Compton, 27, started 15 games in 2016 and finished with 106 total tackles. Compton knows that the Redskins defense must be better in order to get to the postseason in 2017, but agrees that the Redskins are on the right track.
Take a look back at the top images of the Washington Redskins' linebackers from the 2016 season.
"I think we might have been more optimistic than we should have been this year, but I think rightfully so," Compton said. "Injuries took place and some things didn't go the way we wanted to, we didn't execute like we wanted to, but I felt like the opportunities were there and again you got to go back, you got to correct those opportunities that we missed out on and again you got to live in those details, but I think we're on the right track. I think with the GM that we have with Scot [McCloughan], it wasn't going to be a quick fix and I think we'll have a lot to be excited about next year. You're always optimistic every week. That doesn't change."
Compton said that the defense needs to improve on all three levels but understands the front office is well above his pay grade. He hopes to focus on himself this offseason and be someone they can rely on.
"You take a step back again and know you believe in the culture that they're trying to instill here and the progress we're trying to make and then you move forward and you try to be part of the solution," Compton said, "not the problem."