By: Ryan Cooley
To the surprise of many, the NFL season is here. Most fans had given up hope of a season just a couple of months ago. However, the NFL has done an excellent job of taking the necessary precautions to have football in 2020.
This offseason has been an absolute roller coaster for Washington. It seemed every week they were making headlines. From a new coaching staff and front office to a new name, this is a very different team than the one we saw just nine months ago.
Here are four questions that will be answered this season.
Will Dwayne Haskins Develop?
We watched Haskins struggle immensely for most of his rookie year. However, the last two games showed how much potential he possesses. In weeks 15 and 16, he completed 72% of his passes for 394 yards, 4 TDs to 0 INTs, and a QB rating of 121.3 and 143.2.
He has worked extremely hard this offseason. He dropped 22 lbs and has done everything he could to prepare for his sophomore year. With a full offseason to prepare as the starter, he needs to show significant improvement.
Rivera did not draft Haskins; therefore, he does not have to show loyalty to him. If Haskins struggles again, do not expect him to be under center for Washington in 2021.
How Good Can This Defense Be?
There is no question that the defense will lead this team. They have a ton of young players with high ceilings. The defensive line will be a nightmare for opposing QBs with the help of Chase Young, Montez Sweat, and Ryan Kerrigan. In the middle, they have Jonathan Allen, Daron Payne, and Matt Ioannidis.
One name to watch out for in the secondary is Troy Apke. He earned the starting position by beating out Sean Davis and rookie Kamren Curl. I believe Collins being the hard-hitting enforcer and Apke’s speed/range, could create a dangerous duo at safety.
Who Will Be the Second Option On Offense?
Terry McLaurin is the clear cut #1 WR on this offense. However, no one knows who will step up as the #2. The best bet would be Steven Sims, as he showed us what he could do at the end of 2019. Dontrelle Inman has built chemistry with Haskins so far in the little time he’s been here.
Do not be surprised if Logan Thomas steps up and is a big part of the offense. Many do not know who Thomas is. He played QB at Virginia Tech from 2010-2014 before transitioning to TE in the NFL in 2017 for the Bills. He and Haskins have built chemistry during camp, especially in the red zone.
If this offense is going to have any success, someone other than McLaurin will need to step up.
Can the Offensive Line Hold It’s Own?
The biggest concern of this team is the offensive line. In 2019, this unit managed a pass-blocking grade of 67.2 and a run-blocking grade of 73.3 from Pro Football Focus. Brandon Scherff is the only lineman Washington can rely on. The left side will be entirely different than 2019 with Geron Christian and Wes Martin starting.
It is crucial to have a line that will protect your young QB. If Rivera wants to get a good read on Haskins, he better find a way to keep him upright.
Record Prediction: 6-10
If everything comes together, I believe a record of 6-10 is realistic. Fans must remember this season is about seeing what they have and just how much work needs to be done. Washington is an extremely young team, and Rivera needs to know who can play and who cannot.
While 6-10 is usually a disappointing season for many teams, it would be a great success for Washington. That is double their win total from 2019. I am more concerned with how the young players develop than the record.
This is going to be a very interesting year for Washington. After the whirlwind of an offseason, it will be a pleasant change to focus on just the football aspect of this team. One thing fans can count on is the change in culture. One that may actually be “damn good.”