With the 2020-21 season now over, the Washington Football Team looks to the offseason, and expect it to be different than others in the past. Outside of the impending lawsuits from majority owner Dan Snyder, there are no off-field issues. They finished the season 7-9, atop the NFC East, and the future is bright in the nation’s capital.
Washington’s defense improved across the board:
Washington’s Defensive Stats (Ranking)
|Points Per Game||27.2 (Last)||20.6 (4th)|
|Passing Yards Per Game||385.1 (27th)||304.5 (2nd)|
|Rushing Yards Per Game||146.2 (31st)||112.8 (14th)|
|3rd Down conversions||48.9% (Last)||37.5% (6th)|
|Redzone %||61% (24th)||53.5% (4th)|
|Scoring Drives||42% (29th)||31.4 (5th)|
|Points Per Drive||2.38 (29th)||1.69 (3rd)|
|Yards Per Play||5.7 (21st)||4.9 (2nd)|
|Takeaways||22 (16th)||27 (4th)|
The performance put on by Taylor Heinicke was nothing short of magical. He was playing through a separated shoulder and went toe for toe against Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. His efforts defined the 2020 season for Washington, fighting through adversity. With coach Rivera and his cancer diagnosis, Alex Smith leading this team back into the playoff picture after starting 2-6 start, going 5-1 in his starts, this team has had the best season they’ve had in a while.
Where do they go from here on defense? They have everyone on that front four coming back next season, but there are questions at interior LB and possibly adding another CB to line up next to Kendall Fuller. I fully expect them to try and bring back guys like Ronald Darby and Ryan Kerrigan, but there’s a strong chance Ryan Kerrigan is not back in DC next season.
I think out of the two, I would place my bets on Darby being back. Yes, Ryan Kerrigan will be 33 years old, but I will use Clay Matthews’ contract as a reference. He received a 2 year $9.25M deal from the LA Rams in 2019, so Kerrigan might get something around that range. Darby had a good season, but I fully expect him to be back on a 2 or 3-year deal for about $6-7M a year.
I expect the offense to look completely different next season, and it starts at QB. Are they going to go big after a guy like Matt Ryan or Matthew Stafford, or go to another veteran like Ryan Fitzpatrick? I don’t think they’re in the market for a mega Deshaun Watson trade, they have too many holes on the roster to give up draft capital.
Are they planning on re-signing Brandon Scherff? He is coming off a First-Team All-Pro season, in which he played the most games since 2017, and showed his importance to the offense, as the run game was only averaged 64.3 yards per game in his absence (107.7 with him).
This team needs more weapons on offense, but the emergence of Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, and JD McKissic proved as key pieces going forward. If they can add a good QB, another WR opposite Terry McLaurin, and another RB to back up Antonio Gibson, this team can truly compete for a good while.
2020 is a year Washington fans will never forget, and they are truly building something special. The process started off ugly with things like trading Trent Williams & Quinton Dunbar, Derrius Guice & Cody Latimer’s legal troubles, the name change, sexual assault cases stemming 15-20 years back, and the release of Dwayne Haskins, but Ron Rivera stayed true to his saying:
“We need 11 guys doing one thing at a time, not one guy trying to do all 11.
Everything about the team is just better, from the culture, on-field play and the fan morale around this organization is twice as better, and I expect better results in 2021-22.