The draft is over and Washington come out of that glorious weekend with 10 new players along with an UDFA RB to add to the mix. They have made a few moves over the last week, and still have 3 spots on the roster with a few free agents scheduled to visit. The draft is usually one of the last “tipping points” when it comes to the public’s perception of teams and how they will fare that year. The big waves of free agency are over, and we’re only left with the post-draft, post-comp pick deadline trickle of signings that usually don’t cause a blip in the news.
Washington was 7-9 last year in Ron Rivera’s first season as head coach. They won the division after a very rocky start, and ended up starting 4 QBs including their playoff loss to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Two of those QBs(Alex Smith, Dwayne Haskins Jr.) are no longer with the team, but they have been replaced by Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington didn’t address the QB of the future in the draft which they got knocked for in their draft grades, and now in our first Power Rankings Roundup of 2021.
The Football Team at eight? A 7-9 “division winner” at eight? What the bleep? All good questions, until you remember that Washington had a dumpster fire situation at quarterback in 2020, which tended to hide the fact that Ron Rivera’s defense got legit. Only the Steelers and Saints ranked ahead of Washington in Defensive DVOA, and former Bengals cornerback William Jackson III is a huge value addition in free agency. Another huge value-add was Washington’s first-round pick — Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis, who reminds me a lot of Thomas Davis, the ‘backer Rivera worked with when they were both with Carolina. Speaking of Carolina, North Carolina receiver Dyami Brown was one of the steals of this draft in the third round, and Brown adds his name and talent to an already stacked receiver class. If Ryan Fitzpatrick can dial up more good YOLO than bad YOLO, the Football Team will a lot more interesting than their name, and possibly good enough for a playoff run.
The Washington Football Team were the surprise champions of the NFC East in 2020. But any excitement over that title came with the asterisk that was their 7-9 record.
However, there’s reason to think Washington could better that mark in 2021 and perhaps even be a force in the postseason.
In free agency, the WFT addressed the departure (and retirement) of quarterback Alex Smith by becoming the ninth stop on the Ryan Fitzpatrick. Washington gave him a new passing-game target in wide receiver Curtis Samuel, replaced Ronald Darby with William Jackson III at cornerback and upgraded at inside linebacker with the selection of Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis at No. 19 overall.
Washington has quietly assembled a roster that doesn’t have any glaring holes. The defensive line might be the best in the NFL. The offensive line is stout. The Samuel signing gives Fitzpatrick a solid trio of pass-catchers alongside star wideout Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas.
If Fitzpatrick can avoid back-breaking turnovers and Washington can stay relatively healthy, this roster is more than capable of 10-11 wins and a second straight NFC East title.
I think they are the team to beat in the NFC East with their nasty defense. Ryan Fitzpatrick is good enough to get them to nine or 10 wins, which will win the division.
Washington remains our favorite for the NFC East crown, though that’s not a major compliment because the rest of the division couldn’t crack the top half of these rankings. But it’s disappointing Washington didn’t grab one of the top rookie quarterbacks, leaving the team to live and die this season on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s erratic arm.
The Washington Football Team could have traded up for Justin Fields or Mac Jones, but decided against it. That might have long-term consequences for this franchise, but this is team is more talented than the one we saw win the NFC East in 2020. With an elite defense and a more consistent offense, Washington is the favorite to win the division.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is a consummate pro and has made the most out of his opportunities over the past few years. He’s certainly an upgrade at QB over the Alex Smith-Dwayne Haskins disaster we witnessed last season and Washington’s defense could be even better with DB William Jackson signed and LB Jamin Davis drafted.
Odds to Win Super Bowl LVI: +5000 (T-No. 22)
Is it crazy to say that Washington doesn’t have a weak link anymore? That is a bit extreme and probably too much of a leap of faith on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s behalf, but this is going to be an entertaining year for The Football Team.
Washington had the NFL’s third-best defense in 2020, and though success on that side of the ball doesn’t always carry over year to year, they actually upgraded their talent, signing cornerback William Jackson and drafting linebacker Jamin Davis in the first round. Ryan Fitzpatrick is not the long-term answer at quarterback, but he should be fine for a year, and Washington can revisit its QB situation next offseason.
This isn’t a great team, but it should be a frisky team that competes for the NFC East crown.
Question – should they have aggressively pursued QBs Justin Fields or Mac Jones in the draft? Answer – Ryan Fitzpatrick has never taken a playoff snap in his itinerant career.
The team added veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason in hopes that he could bring a little more oomph to an offense that gained the third-fewest yards in the league this past year. But the reigning NFC East champions do have a talent-laden defensive unit that added linebacker Jamin Davis (Kentucky) in the first round in April. Head coach Ron Rivera now has former Panthers’ offensive weapon Curtis Samuel at his disposal again.
Defending NFC East champs are fun to watch if you like nasty defense and roller-coaster QB play provided by Ryan Fitzpatrick, who will be Washington’s fifth different starter in a 14-game span.
Washington is building the foundation of a strong team, particularly on defense, but a team can only rank so high when the quarterbacks on the roster are Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen.
Previous Rank: 21
Notable NFL Draft Picks: Jamin Davis, LB, Kentucky; Samuel Cosmi, OT, Texas; Dyami Brown, WR, North Carolina
Washington also chose the conservative approach by declining to trade up for a QB. (More on the team that did shortly.) The wide receiver trio of Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel and Brown has potential, and this Ryan Fitzpatrick-led offense might score enough points to support a strong defense. That’s putting a lot of faith in FitzMagic, though.
Washington won’t be winning the East again with a 7-9 record. There’s some promise for Ryan Fitzpatrick in a revved up offense, but here’s to thinking Jones and Hurts will play better to give the Giants and Eagles’ offenses a few more welcome dimensions. WFT’s defense, however, is still a calling card the other three teams don’t have.
Previous rank: No. 19
Ron Rivera knows the strength of his team is defense, and he set out to make that side of the ball even stronger with the first-round selection of Kentucky linebacker Jamin Davis. The heart of Washington’s D is in the front four, and Davis addresses an area of need — a speedy and versatile linebacker who can go sideline-to-sideline and cover. Meanwhile, Ryan Fitzpatrick dodged any fresh competition entering the QB room, and appears to be locked and loaded as the starting quarterback. That hasn’t happened for Fitzmagic since his final season with the Jets in 2016. What a fun career.
Where should the Washington Football Team be ranked?
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