A tumultuous off-season in the DMV has left fans wondering what direction this team is heading, if any at all. Anyone with two eyes, or hell, even one eye, could see that an organizational overhaul has long been overdue. The latest scandals detailing years of alleged sexual harassment by numerous employees throughout the organization was the tipping point. Oh yeah, did I mention that not only is this a “loveless” team, but it’s also a nameless team. After years of public backlash and increasing pressure, Dan Snyder finally removed the name of which we do not speak, with plans to decide on a name in the upcoming year. A new culture is budding in the DMV. This is Washington Football.
Newly acquired head coach Ron “Riverboat” Rivera has his work cut out for him as he’s taking over a team that hasn’t had a winning season since 2015 and has had a cumulative record of 25-38 since. Dwayne Haskins, who was recently announced as the starting signal caller looks to improve an offense that rated second to last only edging out the New York Jets. The 15th overall pick in 2019 has high expectations going into his sophomore season, his first as a full time starter. He finished 2019 having played in nine games while finishing with a 58.6 completion percentage and throwing seven touchdowns to seven interceptions. I expect Washington to keep three Quarterbacks on the 53-man roster. Kyle Allen has built a repertoire with Rivera and new offensive coordinator Scott Turner while in Carolina.
Meanwhile former number one overall pick Alex Smith brings a veteran presence and is in the midst of completing a remarkable comeback. He’s been removed from the PUP list and was cleared by doctors to resume playing football just 21 months after suffering a devastating leg injury that required him to have 17 surgeries. He remains a strong candidate for Comeback Player of the Year.
In a surprise move Washington decided to cut future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson early Thursday morning. That paired with the release of Derrius Guice due to domestic violence accusations leaves Washington with a young inexperienced backfield. Look for rookie third-round pick out of Memphis, Antonio Gibson, to be the lead back with Peterson now gone. J.D McKissic should serve as a pass catching third down back and Peyton Barber would best be utilized as a change of pace back. Bryce Love has made strides in his recovery process from a torn ACL, but ultimately I see him as being a late cut. However, it would not surprise me if he were placed on the Injured reserve to start the season.
Terry McLaurin goes into the 2020 season as the clear cut number one WR. He’ll try to build upon his stellar rookie season where he played in 14 games putting up 919 yards and seven touchdowns on 58 receptions. Beyond that there are a lot of question marks at the skill position. Dontrelle Inman looks to serve as the number two wideout providing a nice veteran presence. Steven Sims Jr. signed as an undrafted free agent out of the University of Kansas in 2019 putting up 310 yards and four touchdowns on 34 receptions out of the slot. He’s set to play the same role this year. It’s too early to tell how much of an impact rookie WR out of Liberty, Antonio Gandy-Golden, will have in his first year, but he should easily make the 53-man roster.
The tight end group is missing two familiar faces. Oft injured, albeit extremely talented, Jordan Reed moved on to sign with the San Fransisco 49ers. He had spent all of last season on the IR due to reoccurring concussions. While 14 year veteran Vernon Davis decided to hang up his cleats. Instead of upgrading through the draft or via trade Washington decided to sign a few free agents to battle it out for the starting spot. Logan Thomas is going into his seventh year in the league and looks to have won the starting job according to everything out of Washington’s camp. He’s coming off his best season where he finished with 16 receptions for 117 yards and one touchdown. Marcus Baugh out of Ohio State is a secondary depth piece while Jeremy Sprinkle enters his fourth year with the team and is a possible fringe cut.
Now onto the big guys up front. Washington lost its best lineman when they traded disgruntled seven-time pro bowl LT Trent Williams to the San Fransisco 49ers this off-season netting them a 2020 fifth round pick and a 2021 third round pick. They botched what could have been a first round pick from the New England Patriots according to Ron Rivera on “The Kevin Sheehan Show” ( ). Saadiq Charles, rookie tackle out of LSU and Geron Christian Sr. a third year tackle out of Louisville have been in competition to take the starting LT spot. I would predict the edge to Charles solely based on experience. The right side of the line is pretty much set in stone. Chase Roullier is going into his fourth season of his rookie contract and has the center position locked down. Three-time pro-bowl RG Brandon Scherff signed his franchise tag back in March and will be the starting RG. In a pre-covid world Morgan Moses would probably have been pushed for the starting RT spot, however with no pre-season games he’s the odds on favorite to start the season as the starter.
I expect Haskins to go through many growing pains this year. I think he has a chance to take a small step forward thanks to the change in personnel with Ron Rivera at the helm and Scott Turner calling the plays, however it would be foolish to expect too much out of this group. Don’t be surprised to see Smith take over at some point during the season. Outside of McLaurin and (maybe?) Gibson there are just too many question marks.
If Washington is to remain competitive late into any game it will be all thanks to their defense. The defensive line in D.C is downright nasty. Two former first-round picks in Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen anchor the middle of the defense and that’s not even accounting for Matthew Ioannidis who led Washington with 8.5 sacks last year. Long time vet Ryan Kerrigan still controls the edge and can get after the passer while Montez Sweat enters his second season and looks to become more consistent. Washington added Chase Young, DE out of Ohio State University, with the number two overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. The minute he was picked Washington doubled their win total from one game to two (I’m not trying to be funny btw). Chase Young is an absolute freak of nature. Please take the time to go watch some of his college film. Seriously. I would do questionable things in order to get him onto my beloved Ravens…
Washington’s linebacker group is a mix of veterans in the twilight of their career and young unproven players. Sixteen-year vet Thomas Davis Sr. has familiarity playing under coach Rivera. He isn’t the all pro he used to be, but he’s still playing at a decent level. He should bring more solidarity to the middle of the field and help shore up some of those sloppy mistakes that fans are used to seeing at Fedex every Sunday. Cole Holcomb is likely to be another starter. He started 15 of 16 games last season. He has the physical tools needed for the job; however, he has a long way to go. Jon Bostic was re-signed to a two-year deal this offseason and will most likely serve as a rotational piece. I’m going to briefly touch on another player with a troubled past. Reuben Foster was once a highly regarded prospect coming out Alabama. Since then his resume includes failed drug tests, altercations with hospital staff, multiple arrests citing domestic violence and multiple injuries that have plagued his career. I’m not surprised that Washington picked him up (They’re kind of known for that type of thing), but given the recent culture change I’d be shocked if he wasn’t apart of the next set of roster cuts.
Washington is coming into 2020 with a revamped secondary. They moved on from veteran CBs Josh Norman and Quinten Dunbar. Their replacements? A familiar face in their former third-round pick Kendall Fuller and ex-Eagles CB Ronald Darby. Lurking behind them is the hard hitting strong safety Landon Collins who just last year signed the largest contract ever given to an NFL defensive back. Sean Davis played his first four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers and was brought in to compete with Troy Apke for the Strong Safety position. So far Apke has been getting the majority of the starting reps. Both will make the 53-man roster with 2020 fourth-round pick Kamren Curl rounding out the depth chart. Curls’ strengths are highlighted in his tackling and has also made numerous interceptions in training camp. Perhaps something to keep an eye on.
Nothing has changed on special teams. Tress Way is entering his seventh season as Washington’s Punter and is coming off his first career pro-bowl nod. Nick Sundberg is entering his 11th season as Washington’s long-snapper while Dustin Hopkins is 84.9% on field goals. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Washington is currently going through a huge transitional stage. They’ve ditched the controversial household name that they’ve carried since the year after their inception in 1933, they’ve fired those involved in the recent scandals, and even hired the first Black NFL team President, Jason Wright, in league history. They’re finally making all the right structural moves behind the scenes, but don’t expect that to transition into wins in the 2020 season. They haven’t had a winning season in five years and they’re coming off a 3-13 season. Dwayne Haskins has yet to prove himself (yes, I know he has yet to have a full season) and outside of the promising McLaurin the offense looks dreadful. The defensive front looks beastly and the secondary should be improved, but It won’t make up for the lack of offensive production. The bright spot is that Chase Young is a stud and he will win Defensive Rookie of the Year. The Washington Football Team? 2-14
Editor’s Note: Featured Image from Washingtonfootball.com