Washington Football Team 2020 Team Preview

Washington Football Team 2020 Team Preview

by August 15, 2020 1 comment

The 2019 season was one many former Washington Redskin fans would like to forget. The team finished the year at 3-13, good enough to land them the number two pick in the 2020 NFL draft. However, the team almost ended up gifting star defensive end Chase Young to the division rival New York Giants. With a week loss to the Giants in week 16, the Washington Football Team would have all but locked up the number two pick in the draft. However, entering the fourth quarter of that game, the team was down 14 points. They went on to tie the game in the final minute and forced overtime. Thankfully, the Giants marched down the field in overtime and won the game with a touchdown.

Make sure to check out all of our other NFL team previews.

Offseason Recap

Entering the offseason the team underwent major changes. After years of the fans calling for his head, Bruce Allen was fired. Ron Rivera was hired as the head coach after Jay Gruden was let go midseason. Rivera set the tone for the franchise from day one with a mindset of holding everyone responsible and be versatile. The team was pretty quiet in free agency. They chased after Amari Cooper pretty hard, but he ultimately decided to re-sign with the Dallas Cowboys. Instead of adding big name players as they have in the past, the team stuck to smaller deals. The one exception to this mindset was bringing back defensive back Kendall Fuller after trading him away to Kansas City a few years ago in the Alex Smith deal.

After coming off a career year, guard Ereck Flowers signed a massive free agent deal with the Miami Dolphins. To replace him, the team signed former Atlanta Falcon Wes Schweitzer to compete with last year’s fourth-round pick Wes Martin at left guard. The team also traded for former Carolina Panthers’ quarterback Kyle Allen to backup Dwayne Haskins. Allen wasn’t the only former Panther to join Rivera in Washington as Thomas Davis signed a one year deal after spending a year with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Off the field, the team had a rocky offseason. The team changed their name after years of pressure but will wait till the 2021 season to announce their new team name. In July, The Washington Post had a story about all kinds of sexual harassment that happened from former front office personal. Then recently, former second-round pick Derrius Guice was released after being charged with multiple counts of domestic violence. One thing is for certain, Rivera has a lot of control over the future of the team. Given all the trouble in the past, that is a good thing.

Offense

Back to on the field. The team didn’t do a lot to improve the offense this offseason. The unit will sink or swim depending on how much of a step Haskins takes this season. After a rookie season that was filled with mostly disappointing moments, Haskins appears to be focused and determined this offseason to show he is the team’s franchise quarterback. Terry McLaurin had a rookie season to remember. He finished just 81 yards short of 1,000 yards last season. Had he played in all 16 games, he would have topped the 1,000-yard mark. Now he comes back as the clear cut number one option in the passing game for Haskins.

After a year of being a distraction, the team traded Trent Williams to the San Francisco 49ers during the draft, opening up a big hole at left tackle. The offensive line struggled to stay healthy last season and now they are much younger, and that isn’t good for Haskins. With Guice no longer on the team, the backfield is a big question mark for the team. Adrian Peterson is the favorite to be the starter but third-round pick Antonio Gibson is expected to have a major role. Steven Sims Jr. had a strong finish to the 2019 season and figures to be the team’s number two wide receiver behind McLaurin.

Defense

On paper, there is a lot to like about this unit, especially on along the defensive line. Young comes in with high expectations but he isn’t the only star on the line. Ryan Kerrigan had a down year in 2019 but should bounce back now that he won’t have to play as many snaps and won’t see as many double teams. Montez Sweat is often forgotten about by people outside of the fan base but he finished second on the team with seven sacks. In addition, former second-round pick Ryan Anderson finally showed some flashes and makes for an excellent fourth pass rusher.

On the interior, Da’Ron Payne and Jonathan Allen are emerging stars. Allen has 14 sacks over the last twos season. However, the third guy in the rotation, Matt Ioannidis, led the team with 8.5 sacks last season and had 16 over the last two seasons. In the back seven there are a few star players but several unknowns. The versatility of Fuller should help a secondary that struggled last season. Landon Collins led the team with 117 total tackles while fifth-round pick Cole Holcomb finished tied for second with 105 and looks like a future staple of the defense. Some have compared the team’s defensive line to the 49ers’ group last season, and while that is high praise, the team has the pieces needed to accomplish it this season.

Predicting the 53 Man Roster

QB (3) – Dwayne Haskins, Alex Smith, Kyle Allen

Despite the great news that Smith’s surgical team cleared him for football activities, it’s still Haskins’ starting job. Even though the team gave up a fifth-round pick for Allen, they could release him (and hopefully re-sign him to the practice squad) if they decide to keep just two quarterbacks. Smith could also start the year on the physically unable to perform list.

RB (4) – Adrian Peterson, Antonio Gibson, Bryce Love, J.D. McKissic

Peterson and Gibson are the only two running backs who are locks to make the final roster. After that, it’s a wide-open competition. The team might keep five backs like they did last year, but Rivera only kept four in Carolina. Assuming they keep four, it leaves Love, McKissic, and Peyton Barber to battle it out. I have Love and McKissic making the team over Barber because of Love’s upside and McKissic’s ability to play a role on special teams.

WR (6) – Terry McLaurin, Steven Sims Jr., Antonio Gandy-Golden, Dontrelle Inman, Trey Quinn, Cam Sims

Kelvin Harmon tore his ACL in July getting ready for training camp and will miss the season. Despite rumors of the team being interested in Antonio Brown or Josh Gordon, they signed Dontrell Inman instead. I expect the team to explore the trade market and potentially since another veteran before the start of the season. Fans have high hopes for AGG, and in time he could turn into a real star opposite of McLaurin.

TE (3) – Logan Thomas, Jeremy Sprinkle, Thaddeus Moss

This unit is very underwhelming. The team has been mention as a destination every time a tight end is rumored to be on the move. However, I don’t expect them to make a move. Thomas and Sprinkle seem like locks to make the roster. Moss should be able to beat out the veteran Richard Rodgers for the final tight end spot, but if he can’t, he’s a prime candidate for the practice squad.

OL (9) – Cornelius Lucas, Wes Schweitzer, Chase Roullier, Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Saahdiq Charles, Wes Martin, Ross Pierschbacher, Keith Ismael

Very rarely do teams keep 10 offensive linemen but given all the injuries the team suffered along the line the past few seasons, I wouldn’t be surprised if they did. Lucas, Charles, and former second-round pick Geron Christian will battle it out for the starting left tackle spot. If Christian doesn’t win the starting job, he likely won’t make the final roster.

DL (4) – Da’Ron Payne, Jonathan Allen, Matt Ioannidis, Tim Settle

This unit seems pretty set in stone as all four guys are a lock to make the final roster. The team might decide to add a veteran at some point between now and the start of the season. However, if they don’t, this is arguably their best unit on defense.

EDGE (5) – Chase Young, Ryan Kerrigan, Montez Sweat, Ryan Anderson, James Smith-Williams

The first four guys on this list are a lock to make the roster as the only question is which two get the official start each week. Smith-Williams will have to battle last year’s seventh-round pick Jordan Brailford for the final roster spot. The loser of the battle will likely end up on the practice squad. It’s also possible the team saves the roster spot for somewhere else and only keeps four edge rushers.

LB (6) – Reuben Foster, Cole Holcomb, Thomas Davis, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Jon Bostic, Khaleke Hudson

Foster has come off PUP and appears ready to go for the start of the season. Holcomb is coming off a very good rookie season and should start next to Davis. However, the last starting spot is up for grabs. Hudson was a fifth-round pick and can be used in several ways, including on special teams. This unit lacks a lot of big names but has a nice mix of players.

CB (5) – Kendall Fuller, Fabian Moreau, Ronald Darby, Jimmy Moreland, Greg Stroman

Another group that lacks a lot of big names but offers a lot of versatility. Fuller returns after his time in Kansas City and figures to line up all over the field, including at times at safety. Moreau and Darby are expected to be the starters on the outside, but both come with question marks. Moreland was last preseason’s darling and had some good moments as a rookie. Stroman will have to fend off the veteran Aaron Colvin and Danny Johnson for his roster spot.

SAF (5) – Landon Collins, Sean Davis, Deshazor Everett, Troy Apke, Kamren Curl

Collins is the leader of the unit and sets the tone. Davis comes over after a disappointing stint with the Pittsburgh Steelers and is expected to be the starter opposite of Collins. Everett is a core special team’s player, and his roster spot is secure. Rivera kept five safeties in Carolina last season and might again this season. If he doesn’t, Apke is going to have to fend off Curl for his roster spot.

ST (3) – Tress Way, Dustin Hopkins, Nick Sundberg

This is the same group as it has been for years. Sundberg has been with the team since 2010, while Way is one of the more underrated punters in the league. During his five years in Washington, Hopkins has made at least 81% of his kicks in every season.

COVID (2) – Caleb Brantley, Josh Harvey-Clemons

2020 Outlook

The future is looking bright for the Washington Football Team. Rivera is the right man to turn this historically dysfunctional franchise around. However, this team is still at least a year away from contending and making the playoffs. The season should be judged on the progress made by Haskins. If he can build off his strong performances to close out the 2019 season, the team likely has found their franchise quarterback. However, if he struggles and the team ends up with a top-five draft pick, Haskins may end up playing somewhere else in 2021.

Season Prediction: 5-11 and miss the playoffs

Follow Mike Fanelli on Twitter @Mike_NFL2

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Mike Fanelli is the Editor in Chief and fantasy football expert for Prime Time Sports Talk since 2018. He is a featured writer for FantasyPros. Follow him on Twitter @Mike_NFL2 and reach out anytime with any fantasy football questions.

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