2022 Washington Offense May Be Best During Snyder Era Due to Abundance of Mediocrity

"Abundance of mediocrity" certainly sounds like a back-handed compliment, but in this case, the depth of talent on this 2022 offensive roster is exciting in a way that most of the players individually are not.

Unlike the defense, this is a balanced group not crafted through years of high draft picks (though punctuated most recently by one). Indeed, while Carson Wentz is certainly the most important player for the Commanders' success this year, an argument could be made that the next 8-11 most important players are all on defense. And yes I am purposefully excluding Terry McLaurin from that hierarchy. That's because the importance of our defensive players is less a consideration of their potential impact (though there is plenty of upside talent there), but more highlighting the razor-thin depth on that side of the ball. Conversely, the offense does not suffer from its abundance of mediocrity, but stands out and should succeed for its well-costed redundancy across the board.

Let's start from the middle of the offensive line. Roullier may be our best player at his position on the entire team, but he plays a lower-impact position. Grading in the top 5 at Center by PFF last year, he is buttressed by two more Centers that graded in the top 25 in Ismael and Larsen (if ignoring that that the latter didn't reach minimum snap count). At Guard, we have 3 players that cracked the top 50 last year last year in Schweitzer, Turner and Norwell (#9, #31 and #42, respectively) plus some interesting upside depth pieces in Saahdiq Charles and Chris Paul. Finally, we have 3 tackles that ranked in the top 30 last year in Leno (#12), Lucas (#29) and Cosmi (#30). Again, no all-pros, but really solid players across the board. What's so tremendous about what they've managed to do here is put together a very deep line while managing to stay outside the top-10 in terms of money spent (Dallas is spending the most this year at $57.8M, $15M more than the Commanders).

In the backfield, we are spending buffalo nickels on the Dallas dollars even more so ($7.8M vs. the league-high $24.2M), and it's exactly the right way to build a RB room. Despite meager investment in capital, we have three running backs for which I've seen strong arguments on this board that they should be leading the backfield. We will likely use all three with no clear workhorse, and we have great redundancy with one runner that excels at the rush, one that excels in pass-catching, and one that can do both really well. This is a high-injury position and it's smart to spread the wealth in terms of both cash and carries. Though PFF doesn't love our back field (J.D. graded at #31, AG at #50, rook ungraded), having a 1,000-yard rusher, one of the best 3rd-down backs in the league, and the next-man-up on a fresh rookie deal is really great bang-for-buck on a position where the wallet should be extremely tight.

At Wide Receiver, we have arguably our team's biggest star in Terry McLaurin. Behind him we have 5 players that have a lot to prove but for which there are very good reasons for trying to get the balls in their hands often. If only 2 of Samuel, Dotson, Brown, Milne and Sims play up to low-average starters we will easily have the best receiving trio we've had since 2016's trio of Garcon, Crowder and DeSean Jackson. I'd argue that this receiving core even has the potential to rival that trio with Terry shaping up to be our best Snyder-era receiver, better WR depth behind the top 3, and an unknown commodity in Dotson. That's even leaving out more speculative possibilities like Ezzard as a returner. Unlike the more budget-friendly units, the WR group is likely to crack the top 10 in cost once Terry inks a new contract (it is currently just outside, though much of his contract could be backloaded). Still, the front office is positioned to shed some of that next year with Samuel's contract if he doesn't regain form or a couple of the other players can step up. Ultimately, the money has to go somewhere and paying WRs is at least on trend with where the league is headed. This is a very deep though not diverse group, with only Sims of the likely roster locks standing above 6 feet.

Due to Logan Thomas's injury, one of the biggest Week 1 question marks will be at Tight End, but one could make the case that this is quietly one of the healthiest units on the team, long-term. Behind our proven albeit mid-tier receiving threat, we have Bates who PFF actually graded as the far-and-away best run-blocking Tight End last year (PFF grades are controversial but Bates' ability to block while adding sneaky receiving contributions is not). Behind them, we have a gaggle of high-upside projects. This is important because Tight-Ends are notorious for requiring long incubation periods and often not panning out. Turner, Reyes, Rogers, Hodges and even AGG all have qualities to like, and while they are projects at various stages, a few of them have some serious upside. All we need is one of them to work out to make this one of the team's true strengths this season and beyond. We are again getting good value here, paying the group $10.2M, less than a third of the Patriots' $31.8M TE payroll. Nothing fancy here, but deep and redundant.

Quarterback is almost certainly a point of weakness. Wentz, Heinicke, Howell, ugh. At this point, these all look like C- to C+ players but again, we have redundancy and depth. Now, we'd clearly trade this entire group for any of Mahomes, Herbert, Burrow and a few others, but if you aren't going to have a top guy, the next best thing is to have an average starter (or two) and at least one interesting option in the development pipeline, which we now have. And then we come to the premise of this article about why it may be the best offense of the Snyder era: we don't have to compare to Brady, we get to compare to Beck, Ramsey, Grossman, Collins, Sanchez and a slew of other embarrassments at the position.

I believe an argument can be made that given the contracts and parties' leverage, our current QB room is in a much more sustainable situation than any of the years with Kirk Cousins as starter. If anything, the Washington situation to start 2012 with an uninjured RG3 and another developmental QB in Kirk right behind was the healthiest QB position we have been at in the era, and this year looks close behind on paper in terms of options, upside and long-term health. A little guilty knowledge shows why that 2012 RG3/Kirk duo might have been misleading in a number of directions, but Wentz and Howell are likely to be surprises for better or worse, too. We are in the top-ten in total salary at QB (#7), but there is an escape valve in Howell and a likelihood to get pushed out of that top level when some of the younger passers get extensions.

So there you have it, this offense has a lot of mediocre players and very few of them can you obviously get too excited about. But in the NFL, players breakout and wane from year to year. The landscape changes in the blink of an eye. So when you look at this offensive roster, its strength is its depth and its real lack of significant weaknesses. It's a certainty that some of these players will be better than we thought and some will be worse. But we have put ourselves in a position through sheer numbers to strike gold on some positive surprises and to survive some bad misses. The defense, on the other hand, has likely reached the inevitable conclusion of drafting a defender in every first round from 2017-2021: a top-heavy unit that will thrive or die depending on injuries and is likely to have glaring weaknesses if any players don't live up to expectations.