Undrafteds Washington Football Team preseason review! The series continues as we take a dive into each teams hopes for the upcoming season, and five main categories to keep an eye on within each camp. This time around we’re taking a look at the Washington Football Team, who’ve spent the last four years quietly building a very strong defensive front. Boasting the number two pick in last years draft, and with the QB needy Bengals taking Joe Burrow, Washington sat happily at number two and selected one of the most sure fire draft picks of all time, Chase Young. That young man has been an NFL pro playing college football, and came into the league looking bigger better and stronger than most of the talent he’d face. The home run pick turned out to be exactly that, as according to PFF Chase graded out as the best player on the Washington defence in his rookie year.
With the defensive front now controlling the pace of the game on defence, and assisting in putting Washington second in the league for the least amount of yards per game allowed, Washington can now turn the majority of their attention to the offence. They might have been a playoff team last year, but finished with a losing record, and struggled to settle on a quarterback throughout the season. This year, they appear to have addressed some key needs, and with Ron Rivera back to full health, things might be looking good for Washington this year.
One thing is for certain, the NFC East is totally up for grabs, and I’d be willing to argue that Washington are in poll position to take the cake. They boast the best defence, a strong and boosted offensive line, a dangerous looking receiving core with two great new additions in free agent Curtis Samuel from Carolina, and Dyami Brown in the third round of the draft out of North Carolina. Both will compliment Terry McLaurin tremendously, and now it will all just depend on the quarterback piecing it all together.
The Head Coach
Ron Rivera. What a guy. Riverboat Ron had to deal with a turbulent first year in charge of the Washington Football Team. When you consider that all in one season we had the pandemic, the name change situation, Dwayne Haskins, the teams first round pick and supposed starting quarterback being released mid season, all while being diagnosed and having treatment for cancer.
Rivera’s commitment to the team and the game we all love was tremendous. Despite undergoing three cycles of chemotherapy, Rivera only missed practices, and was on the sideline for every single game, having to have half time treatment to alleviate the feeling of fatigue. That’s some commitment, and I tell you one thing, that’s one way to earn the respect of your locker room.
Rivera had a successful tenure with the Carolina Panthers, running the show as head coach during the Cam Newton era, and completing 9 seasons in charge from 2011-2019. Rivera managed 4 playoff seasons, was named Head Coach of the year twice (2013 & 2015) and of course, made Super Bowl 50 with the Panthers in the 2015 season.
Washington have a good one, and Ron brings a very experienced coaching staff with him, including ex NFL head coach Jack Del Rio. With both men having a very strong defensive mind, Ron as an ex linebacker himself, and linebackers coach, and Del Rio now the defensive coordinator, one things for sure… Washington are going to be just as good, if not better, on defence this year.
The ultimate NFL journeyman, who fans fall in love with everywhere he goes. Fitzmagic finds a home in Washington after clearly stating he still wants to play, and is not ready to retire to a back up role yet. Now 38 years old, Fitz will suit up for his 9th NFL team this season, after spells with the Rams, Bengals, Bills, Titans, Texans, Jets, Bucs & most recently the Miami Dolphins. Fitz was a fantastic mentor for rookie Tua Tagovailoa, and ultimately was forced into the back up role as the Dolphins allowed the rookie to play, and began thinking about their future.
This is a great situation for Ryan Fitzpatrick, who’s never been to the playoffs despite being a part of many NFL teams. All Washington need is a game manager. If they can score 24 points a game they’re in good shape. The defence will hold, and the offence will have plenty of opportunities. We all know that Fitz isn’t perfect, and some weeks far more consistent than other. All he needs to do this year is display a level of consistency and help to put 3 or 4 touchdowns a game on the board. The D only allowed more than 23 points on 6 occasions last season, and with a great group of receivers and talented second year running back Antonio Gibson, there aren’t many better situations for a veteran QB to step into.
I’d imagine Washington will still be considering their options of a more long term Quarterback plan, but for the time being, Fitz is every bit capable of leading this team.
The Rookie To Watch
Jamin Davis was not really a name that the general consensus expected to hear on day 1, but I do kind of understand why Washington made the choice. Davis might be somewhat of a project, but adding him to a three piece linebacker set behind the dominant from four will allow him to flourish without too much pressure, and early. He’s rangy and athletic, and can excel in coverage. So much focus on the likes of Montez Sweat and Chase Young will also allow him to get through into the backfield if schemed correctly, so I’d expect to see plenty of that too.
My choice here however is third round talent Dyami Brown. You only need to go onto Youtube and watch UNC’s offensive highlights from last season and you’ll know exactly why. Sam Howell, UNC’s current quarterback, is set to be one of the top QBs in next years draft, and he has Dyami Brown to thank for getting on the end of the majority of those passes. Howells loss is Ryan Fitzpatricks gain, and I’d expect to see Dyami Brown line up as a starter with McLaurin and Curtis Samuel.
“Dyami Brown is described as one of the better vertical threat receivers in this years draft. He’s exciting to watch on tape, and does well beating a man off the line, or breaking off of his route to get himself open down the field. His versatility means you can line him up inside or out on the perimeter. I like what he brings as the two or three guy in an NFL offence, and he kind of reminds me of AJ Brown, who was also a day two selection.”Undrafted on Dyami Brown before the draft in April
Brown had back to back 1000 yard seasons with the Tar Heels, and will occupy the outside of the field opposite Terry McLaurin. Of course, Terry will likely host the opposing teams defences number one corner for the majority of the season, so Brown can cause chaos on the other side of the field. I love the opportunity for him here in Washington, and think he could be one of the best rookie receivers of the season ahead.
The New Kid On The Block
William Jackson III has been with the Bengals since he was drafted in the first round back in 2016. He missed his entire rookie season due to a pectoral injury requiring surgery, but was tested early and often when he came back healthy for the 2017 season. Jackson held his own and impressed, boasting a pick and 11 pass break ups, and not allowing a single touchdown. Now 4 years into his NFL career, and allowed to hit the free agency market after a strong year 4 in Cincinnati, Jackson signed a deal with the Football Team for $40M over 3 years.
Jackson adds key experience to the secondary, and will line up opposite Kendall Fuller, who rejoined Washington, the team who drafted him back in 2016. Fuller went off to Kansas City for two seasons, won the Super Bowl, and returned last season picking up 4 interceptions. Adding Jackson gives Washington more security on the back end, and with Landon Collins back from injury, if they stay healthy, it leaves quite a head ache for opposing QBs. Considering the front four of Payne, Allen, Sweat and Chase Young all bearing down on the quarterback FAST, this secondary will have no trouble locking up the deep field. Other teams will have to be very patient and methodical taking small yardage. This is a great spot for William Jackson III to excel in, and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to see a career year out of him this year. A great signing for Washington.
The Up & Comer
This was a real toss up and I found it hard to choose. Washington seemed to have hit on safety Kamren Curl, who they drafted out of Arkansas in the 7th round last season. Curl played in every game at free safety, and finished the year with 3 picks and 80 tackles, as well as 2 sacks. Curl looks to be set to start his sophomore year in the league along side Landon Collins, and makes up the youngest piece of a strong 4 on the back end.
However, my choice here has to be Antonio Gibson. Washington will absolutely hand the starting role to Gibson this year, who only really fully took over mid season during his rookie year. Gibson can do it all, and he’ll be such a weapon for Washington this season. He managed 826 yards and 11 TDs as a running back, his first season at the position, and comes from college with immense talent as a pass catcher. Gibson was a receiver all the way through his college career, and it was only when he was invited to the Senior Bowl as a running back that he switched his position. He then entered the draft as a running back prospect. So he has wide receiver hands, running back ability, and also left college having received AAC honours as a return specialist. Gibson is only going to get better this year, and have more reps, with reports from camp claiming that his skills as a RB are ‘night and day’ compared to last season. The 6’2 220 pound talent really could do some special things this season, and not to mention doing so behind a boosted offensive line.
Record Prediction: 11-6
This division really could come down to the match ups between Washington and Dallas, with the second game coming on December 27th, with only two games left to follow it. These two teams should be at the top battling it out for the East, with maybe the Giants acting as a dark horse. One thing I’m confident on is that Washington will absolutely boast a strong winning record this year, and they’re not a team you’re going to want to face in the playoffs.
With a defence as strong as theirs, they’re not going to be any fun to line up against, and whenever you can hold an opposition team to less than 24 points, you have every opportunity to win games. Everything about this Washington team is heading in the right direction ahead of the season. They’re young, they’re energetic, they made great free agency signings, I like the coaching staff, they drafted well, despite maybe reaching in the first round, and now it all comes down to Ryan Fitzpatrick. If we see him at his magical best, the sky is the limit. A very exciting team heading into the year!
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