Washington offensive coordinator Scott Turner is creative when it come to exploiting mismatches against opposing defense. He’s also known to NOT be one to try and force a square peg into a round hole when it comes to his scheme - instead choosing to tailor his player’s strengths to the scheme he runs.
All this should be fun to watch unfold as Turner arguably has the most unique set of talent he’s ever been around during his time as a coordinator in the NFL.
Since the NFL is all about taking advantage of mismatches against the opponents defense, let’s take a look at the threats Turner will have at his disposal, and how he can best utilize these dangerous threats.
Antonio Gibson - The second year former Memphis wide receiver burst onto the scene last year as a full-time running back, with 795 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns. He added 36 receptions for 247 yards.
At 6’2” 220 pounds with sub 4.4 speed, expect Turner to line Gibson up all over the formation and used a lot of motion out of the backfield to create favorable mismatches against linebackers and safeties. With his unique receiving skills, burst, power and open-field running ability, I see a lot of choice, angle and wheel routes in his future, and expect to see those receptions climb in 2021.
Curtis Samuel - Samuel may be the top mismatch threat on Washington’s offense. The 5’11” 195 pound burner (4.31 40 yard dash), had his best season in year four in Carolina in 2020, posting 851 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 77 receptions, and rushing 41 times for 200 yards and another two scores.
Under Turner in Washington this year, he’ll have the benefit of other playmakers around him and a veteran quarterback throwing the football to him. Samuel can line up all over the formation, including the outside, in the slot, or as a running back. Expect Turner to find unique way to maximize his many talents within this offense.
Terry McLaurin - Although McLaurin doesn’t have the versatility of some of the others on this list, he’s a dynamic weapon on the outside for Washington, who can’t be checked one-on-one. In 15 games last season, the second year wideout caught 87 passes for 1118 yards and three scores. He did all this despite no clear number two opposite him to keep defenses honest.
With multiple threats all over this offense, and defenses not being able to key on him, expect McLaurin’s number to take yet another jump in 2021.
J.D. McKissic - Quietly lost in the anemic offense in DC last year, was 27 year old running back/receiver J.D. McKissic. Although the spotlight shown most brightly on Gibson and McLaurin, McKissic had himself quite the nice season, catching 80 passes for 589 yards and two touchdowns and rushing for 365 and a touchdown.
Much like Gibson, the former collegiate receiver can line up all over the formation, and is deadly with the ball in his hands in open space. Not many linebackers can keep up with his quickness when he is split out, and if you shift a nickel back his way, it will open up things for others in the offense. He is also very good in the screen game, including Black and Tunnel screens from the outside.
Logan Thomas - Logan Thomas had his best season as a pro in 2020, hauling in 72 receptions for 670 yards and six touchdowns.
Thomas isn’t your new-age JOKER tight end who can line up in the slot and act almost like another wide receiver in the offense. However, he wins with his size and body positioning against smaller defenders. He’s not going to run away from guys in the open field, but he’s tough, determined and more than willing to sacrifice his body for extra yards.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - One wouldn’t think a 38 year old journeyman quarterback would be categorized as a mismatch threat, but Fitzpatrick indeed is. Now I’m not saying he’s Lamar Jackson or Kyler Murray, but make no mistake - Fitz can beat defense with his legs.
If a defense is in man coverage with their backs turned to the veteran, he will find a lane and take off for a nice chunk of yards. In 2019 with the Dolphins, in 13 games started, he ran for 243 yards and four touchdowns. Now, at age 38, I’m not about to call Fitz a fine wine (that gets better with age), but I’m not going to call him Boones Farm either.
2021 Season Projections:
Ryan Fitzpatrick: 66%, 4180 yards, 28 TD, 12 INT; 35 rushes, 180 yards, 3 TD
Antonio Gibson: 240 attempts, 1120 yards, 9 TD; 45 rec, 315 yards, 4 TD
Terry McLaurin: 92 rec, 1180 yards, 7 TD
Curtis Samuel: 80 rec, 925 yards, 4 TD; 15 rushes, 90 yards, 3 TD
J.D. McKissic: 70 attempts, 350 yards, 3 TD; 60 rec, 420 yards, 3 TD
Logan Thomas: 60 rec, 575 yards, 5 TD
Which skill player will lead the Washington Football Team in touchdowns in 2021?
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