Many fans unfairly criticized coordinator Scott Turner the past two years for his offensive scheme - one that saw the team average 19.7 and 20.9 points per game respectively. The 19.7 points per game average in the 2020 season was the third worst in the NFL, ahead of just the Giants and Jets.
Well, let me ask you this - could you imagine being sent into a late 18th century pistol duel with a pocket knife? Fifteen paces back-to-back... turn - FIRE!
Not very fair is it?
Well, let’s put Scott Turner’s time in Washington into perspective...
Turner was hired as offensive coordinator under newly appointed head coach/general manager Ron Rivera on January 8, 2020. Rivera was taking over a team who had just went 3-13 under Jay Gruden/Bill Callahan and was in desperate need of a rebuild.
Scott inherited a roster lacking offensive talent and a quarterback to run his scheme. Sure, Dwayne Haskins was just drafted the prior year, but Rivera was clearly not on board with the second year player, and he was subsequently benched in favor of Kyle Allen just four games into the 2020 season. Kyle Allen ended up starting the next four games before breaking his ankle. Washington was then forced to turn to the veteran Alex Smith who was coming off a gruesome lower leg injury that many though would have ended his career. Smith’s dink-and-dunk style won the team some games, but it was really the defense that deserves most of the credit. After Smith strained his calf late in the season, Haskins was inserted back into the starting lineup; but was ineffective, and ultimately replaced by Taylor Heinicke, who was signed off the street just a month prior as the team’s emergency COVID quarterback. He got the start in the wild card game against the Bucs, and showed great determination keeping the team competitive until the end.
As the quarterback carousel was madly spinning, Washington was trying to add more fire-power to an anemic offense. They had drafted University of Memphis receiver-turned-running back Antonio Gibson in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, and signed Curtis Samuel as a free agent in the 2021 offseason. They still didn’t have a quarterback, and after striking out on some big names via trade (most notably Matt Stafford), and releasing Dwayne Haskins. They ended up settled on aging veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick.
In the third round of the 2021 draft, the then Washington Football Team selected North Carolina speedster Dyami Brown, who they hoped would compliment Terry McLaurin on the opposite side. They drafted tight end John Bates a round later.
Still not ideal, Scott Turner entered the 2021 season with a professional under center and a few pieces around him.
As luck would have it, Fitzpatrick was injured during the second quarterter of Washington’s first game, ending his season in Burgundy and Gold before it could really get started. What transpired after that was the story we have all grown accustomed to hearing - The Legend of Taylor Heinicke!
For as much grit, guts and determination as Taylor had, he simply wasn’t blessed with the tools needed to be a successful NFL starting quarterback. Again, it was like Scott Turner was forced to play chess with some plastic red and black checkers.
With Heinicke under center, Turner’s playbook was limited to half the field and three quarters of his play-calls. The diminutive quarterback simply didn’t have the arm needed to run the vertical style offense Turner used. To make matters worse, Curtis Samule was injured and ineffective all season and rookie Dyami Brown showed nothing.
The 2021 season left more questions than it provided answers to fans regarding the worth of Scott Turner.
Still, in March of 2022, Turner was given a multi-year contract extension to remain as the team’s offensive coordinator for the foreseeable future.
Fast forward six months...
Turner entered the season with his seventh different starting quarterback - Carson Wentz.
As we sit here potentially awaiting this weeks match-up on the road against the rising Detroit Lions, fans are much more optimistic about Scott and this offense.
For the first time in his Washington tenure, he has a quarterback under center without significant limitations. For the first time in his tenure in DC, he has a plethora of weapons at his disposal. For the first time in his tenure in the Nation’s Capital, he’s not the one-legged man in the All Valley Karate Tournament.
Yes folks, Scott Turner now has the offensive pieces to be judged fairly.
In week one of the NFL season, we were all privileged to be given a glimpse to what Scott Turner’s offense can be - and it was a very pretty picture!
This quote from Turner after Sunday’s game against the Jaguars on spreading touches among his deep group of playmakers really speaks volumes to his philosophy:
“Balance isn’t just run and pass. Balance is being able to spread the ball to your eligible players. ... That’s when you can get dangerous as an offense.”
And spread the ball he did...
Motion here to the right pulls the defense away from where the play is ultimately going. The corner has to honor Terry’s deep route which opens things up for the TE screen. Beautiful concept and execution!
One of my favorite plays from Sunday had to the the TE screen with Armani Rogers. Scott Turner flashed all game what this offense can do to kill defenses, and this play was an A+— Josh Taylor (@JoshTaylorFB) September 14, 2022
***Sound On*** #HTTC pic.twitter.com/jTEG9wZ9Y6
Notice the motion here by Samule, which gives Wentz the opportunity to see what defense the Jags are playing. Curtis is just too fast to be covered here.
#Commanders— Matt Bowen (@MattBowen41) September 13, 2022
WR Curtis Samuel in Week 1…
• 8-of-11 targets, 55 yards receiving, 1 TD
• Four carries, 17 yards rushing
Schemed concepts in the pass game to beat defensive tendencies (below). Backfield alignments/rush attempts.
Motion/movement player in this system. pic.twitter.com/f2CksNxxWe
This throw to McLaurin would not have been made last year... This couldn’t have been placed any better!
The rookie Jahan Doctson is going to be a problem for opposing defenses.
I'm feeling very wrong on my expectations for Jahan Dotson.— Austin Gayle (@austingayle_) September 12, 2022
He's easily been the most impressive rookie wideout through the preseason and now Week 1. Legit NFL suddenness, ball skills and route-running all showing up early. pic.twitter.com/4kjSFrjFkh
And finally, what we’ve all been waiting for - using Antonio Gibson for what he is...a true WEAPON out of the backfield! Again, this is a throw that we don’t see made last year.
This is a GD LASER by Wentz!!! pic.twitter.com/gOuBfH2a0v— Mark Tyler(Hogs Haven) (@Tiller56) September 12, 2022
The REAL Scott Turner era is underway in Washington. Those who were critical of him before need to fully understand the lack of pieces he was given to work with and how they limited his play-calling. 2022 should be a more fair indication of who we have driving this sports car, and just how fast he can make those horses run!
How is your confidence in Scott Turner as offensive coordinator?
About the same as last year
I need to see more