9 1⁄2 weeks
When I think of 9 1⁄2 weeks, I think of Kim Basinger. In 1986, I saw her in the movie with Mickey Rourke that convinced me that she was the sexiest woman in the world. She still probably ranks in the top 5 all time sexiest Hollywood actresses in my opinion, though Halle Berry has probably taken over the top spot on BiB’s all-time sexiest list.
I can’t quite figure out whether the 2020 offseason has seemed to go by faster or slower than usual. We haven’t had a lot of the trappings of a “normal” off-season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but Washington fans have had something to discuss nearly every week. We went from Bruce Allen’s firing to Ron Rivera’s hiring, to the coordinators, trainers, medical consultants, and front office reorganization before pausing for a short breath. As free agency and the draft came and went, we were treated to the slow unfolding of the Dwayne Haskins saga - the challenge tossed out by Coach Rivera and Haskins own body re-sculpting. Of course, the line between sports, society and politics became blurred as the United States went through upheavals in the early summer following the death of George Floyd at the hands of the Minneapolis police. The aftershocks of those upheavals continue. As June has come to a close and July has rolled into view, things for most NFL teams have slowed down a bit... but not so much for this fan base. While Big Blue View has been running player profiles on Sandro Platzgummer and Cooper Rush, fans of the burgundy and gold have engaged in a spirited discussion of the re-branding of the franchise, which will, from now on, be known by a nickname that can be just about anything except the one it has sported since 1933 - the Redskins.
In some ways, all this hubbub has made the off-season seem to just fly by; in other ways, the stretch of time from the final game of the 2019 season until the scheduled start of training camp and the delayed preseason schedule seems to be interminable.
The 2020 season, of course, may or may not be played. As we watch other sports leagues, both professional and college, grapple with the challenges of COVID, it becomes increasingly clear that the pandemic presents unique challenges that will be difficult to overcome. But, for now, I’m gonna assume that the season will start on time in 9 1⁄2 weeks, that we will be treated to a modified training camp and preseason in the meantime, and that — one way or another — the NFL will get through its regular season in 2020.
Are you ready for some football?
At this point, I’m ready to put one eye on the scheduled NFL season.
The question in my mind right now is: Which player on this team will end up being the MVP of this unique season?
Let me offer my strongest candidates.
QB Dwayne Haskins
Haskins appears to have worked his butt off. Reports are that he has dropped his weight to 216 pounds. Photos show a hardened and more sculpted body from the 23-year-old. It seems like everyone says he has been putting in tremendous work this off-season, and Haskins himself assures us that he isn’t done yet.
The 2019 season was largely a write off for Washington. Among the earliest casualties was Dwayne Haskins, who seemed thrust into an ugly situation in the midst of a civil war between the owner and his head coach. Jay Gruden, fighting for his job, didn’t focus much on developing the rookie, and when Haskins was shoved onto the field, seemingly under-prepared for the task, he looked bad.
But that’s less than half the story. In the latter part of the season, fans of the team saw Dwayne Haskins improve game by game — at times he appeared to be improving snap-by-snap — and, in his final two appearances against the Eagleas and Giants, he was showing signs of the quarterback he had been a season earlier at Ohio State.
This season, Dwayne Haskins has the opportunity to step up and take control of this team. It is a young roster, a new coaching staff, and a potentially re-energized fan base with a re-branded image to mark the new era.
The young quarterback is likely to be the most important single player in determining how successful the team will be in 2020. Will Haskins have enough help on offense to make him the team’s most valuable player this season?
WR Terry McLaurin
Pro Football Focus, this week, said that Terry McLaurin was the most valuable receiver in the NFC East. Fans know that McLaurin was something special last season, coming in as a rookie and putting up 916 yards in 14 games.
The bar has been raised this season. McLaurin will put his precise route running, speed and reliable hands to the test week after week as the team’s unchallenged #1 receiver, but is likely to have more help than he got in the first half of the ‘19 season, with guys like Steven Sims and Kelvin Harmon building on momentum that developed in the latter stages of last year’s campaign, the return to health of a number of offensive players, and the addition of rookies Antonio Gibson and Antonio Gandy-Golden.
Scary Terry should also benefit from more consistent quarterback play in 2020. Last year, he was catching passes from three different QBs, as the carousel spun and Case Keenum, Colt McCoy and Dwayne Haskins each took their turn under center, too often with two different guys in a single game. Terry McLaurin produced through it all.
With Dwayne Haskins likely to be the unquestioned starter for every game played in 2020, Terry should have the advantage of consistency from week to week, with the further benefit of (probably) seeing the QB and offensive attack improve from week to week as Scott Turner, Dwayne Haskins and the rest of the offensive players grow together.
It seemed at times, last year, as if Terry McLaurin and Adrian Peterson were the only consistent performers on the offense. Peterson is a future Hall of Famer — McLaurin was a 3rd round rookie.
Does Terry have what it takes to emerge as the team’s clear MVP in 2020?
DE Chase Young
We’ve already discussed Chase Young’s chances of winning the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year in 2020; can this young defensive end also do enough to make himself the team MVP for the 2020 season?
It’s a huge ask for a rookie; it’s a huge ask for a defensive player.
But Chase Young was the consensus ‘best player in the draft’ in April, and he seems to fit the overused moniker of “generational talent” that has been used to define him so often.
While Terry McLaurin spent most of his rookie season as the only real receiving threat in a moribund Redskins offense, Chase Young joins what is arguably one of the most talented defensive fronts in pro football, with Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, and Daron Payne comprising a list of talented veterans that led the division (and were top-10 in the NFL) in sacks a year ago running a 3-4 base defense under Greg Manusky.
It is likely that an upgrade at the DC position to Jack Del Rio, a change in base defense to a 4-3, which seems a more natural fit for the Redskins personnel, and what will likely be a more aggressive defensive philosophy should add up to lots of opportunity for Chase Young to shine primarily as a situational pass-rusher in 2020.
Is it expecting too much of the young man to think that he is capable of showing up as the team’s MVP in 2020?
Montez Sweat or Ryan Kerrigan
Most of the arguments for Chase Young can probably be applied to Sweat and Kerrigan. RyKer has spent his entire career in DC dropping into coverage regularly as a 3-4 OLB. Despite not being a full time pass rusher, he has spent his 9 years in the league among the sack leaders.
Montez Sweat was productive as a rookie a year ago. He should be more productive in 2020 with the addition of Chase Young and the other defensive advantages compared to a year ago.
Derrius Guice or Adrian Peterson
Running backs just don’t dominate in many NFL offenses the way that quarterbacks and receivers do, but Adrian Peterson has done it before, and we’ve never seen what a healthy Derrius Guice can do in an NFL offense with a heavy workload.
From John Keim, ESPN:
I think either back is capable of 1,200 rushing yards this season. If one of them emerges as the “closer” for a team that wins more games than it loses by riding the defense and winning low-scoring, field position ball games (a la 2018 Alex Smith Redskins), then it might be possible for a running back to emerge as the MVP of the 2020 team.
I mentioned already when talking about Chase Young how unlikely it is for a rookie to emerge as the MVP of a team. Further, the coaching staff has indicated that Gibson will have limited touches on offense, and may be used as much as a decoy as the actual ball-carrier. Still, Gibson was drafted for his abilities as a Christian McCaffrey-like multi-dimensional offensive threat who should be able to run the ball inside and outside, and line up in any receiving position or as an H-Back. He can also contribute on special teams, including as a returner.
Learn about the Rookie 3rd round pick:
Given that Gibson will be playing on a team coached by the former Panthers staff, who turned Christian McCaffrey into the most productive offensive threat in the league, coupled wiith the dearth of dangerous weapons at TE and WR (outside of McLaurin), it’s not hard to imagine Gibson surprising the league with huge all-purpose yardage production and double digit touchdowns if Scott Turner decides to feature him in the offensive scheme.
I know some people are offended by the thought that a punter deserves respect on a football team, but Mark Mosely (in strike-affected 1982) is the only purely special teams player to have ever been named league MVP — is it so crazy to think that Tress Way could earn the team honor in a COVID-affected 2020 season?
From November, 2018:
After all, in 2018, when the Redskins were 6-3 and leading the NFC East, it’s arguable that Tress Way’s punting skills were the most consistent reason why the Redskins were winning at a 2:1 clip. Adrian Peterson won the team MVP award in 2018, but my vote would’ve gone to the punter.
Other defensive positions
Defensive players are generally at a disadvantage in earning MVP awards, and, on the 2020 roster, the most likely candidates from that side of the ball all appear to be pass rushers. But with the changes that come with the new coaching staff and with so many question marks and new faces in the second and third levels of the defense, it’s just possible that one guy could emerge as either a tackler and turnover machine at linebacker, or a shutdown DB or interception machine at CB or safety. Names that seem like they could emerge include Landon Collins, Sean Davis, Kendall Fuller, Fabian Moreau, Ronald Darby, Shaun Dion Hamilton, or Reuben Foster. They all seem like dark horses, but, again, if the team turns out to be led by its defense in 2020, one of these guys could emerge from the pack.
Of the three identified "favorites", who do you think is most likely to win the team MVP award in 2020?
This poll is closed
IF you could get attractive odds on a bet, which of the following would you most likely put money on for the 2020 team MVP award?
This poll is closed
A DE - Sweat or Kerrigan
A RB - Peterson, Guice or Love
The offensive weapon, Antonio Gibson
The Punter - Tress Way
A LB, CB or Safety
Does Washington have the roster needed to produce a winning record in 2020?
This poll is closed