Kicks N’ Cleats
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Washington Football Team Expectations for 2021

Is this the year the NFC East’s repeat streak is broken?

Washington Football Team Expectations for 2021
Photo Credit: Hogs Haven — Edited with Photoshop Express

The Washington Football Team will try to do something this season that hasn’t been accomplished since 2004: Repeat as NFC East Champions.

Washington won their division last year with a less than spectacular record of 7–9. But hey, whatever gets the job done right. This season, like many other seasons, has the NFC East viewed as wide open. But is the division actually Washington’s to lose?

Despite not finishing with a positive record, last season actually gave Washington some hope for the future. Their defense is a top unit in the NFL. Washington finished in the top ten for total yards allowed per game (second-fewest), passing yards allowed per game (second-fewest), points allowed per game (fourth-fewest), sacks (sixth-most), and takeaways (seventh-most).

Their defensive line is young and filled with first-rounders including last season’s defensive rookie of the year Chase Young. The defense should only improve this year, as the team drafted linebacker Jamin Davis in the first round and signed cornerback William Jackson III in free agency.

Chase Young anchors Washington’s dominant defense. Andrew Harnik/AP Photo

While the defense is clearly Washington’s strength, they have some bright spots on offense as well. Terry McLaurin is a rising star, finishing with 1,118 receiving yards last season. Rookie running back Antonio Gibson had the seventh-most touchdowns last year, despite never getting more than 20 carries in a game.

The team also added some firepower by signing versatile receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel is coming off a year in which he had 851 receiving yards and 200 rushing yards. His addition should help add a spark to Washington’s offensive attack.

But perhaps the biggest bright spot for the future actually comes from a negative of last season. Washington was able to win the division with some of the worst quarterback play in the NFL. Alex Smith was the team’s leading passer with 1,582 yards. Smith also added in six touchdowns and eight interceptions in eight games played.

Washington also tried the Dwayne Haskins route. In seven games, Haskins had 1,439 yards, five touchdowns, and seven interceptions. Simply put, it was a mess for Washington.

This season, however, there’s a new QB in town. The Washington Football Team has put its faith in Ryan Fitzpatrick. Now Fitzpatrick isn’t the long-term answer for the team. He historically isn’t even an above-average QB. But he is better than what Washington was dealing with last season.

In his last “full” season (15 games but close enough), Fitzpatrick finished with 3,529 yards, 20 touchdowns, and 13 interceptions. Once again not great, but Washington doesn’t need great to win the division. They just need average.

The pieces are in place for the former Harvard quarterback to lead Washington to a division title. Terry McLaurin, Curtis Samuel, and tight end Logan Thomas are solid weapons. Year two Antonio Gibson is set up to get more carries.

The offensive line can hold their own (ranked 17th entering this season by Pro Football Focus). Not to mention that defense is there to win you any game that you score over 20 points (all seven of Washington’s wins last year saw their opponent score no more than 17).

Terry McLaurin finished 13th in receiving, despite subpar QB play. Nic Antaya/Getty Images

The biggest challenge is going to be the schedule. Winning the division brings along a first-place schedule, and boy does Washington have some tough games. They face the Saints, Chiefs, Buccaneers, and Seahawks at home, while also traveling to Buffalo, and Green Bay.

The flipside is Washington still gets to play six games against the worst division in the NFL, which ironically is their own. This brings their strength of schedule to a workable 15th in difficulty. And after all, this isn’t a Super Bowl team.

All I’m expecting out of Washington is to win their division. Their ceiling this year is maybe one playoff victory, but that’s it. Now we just wait to see the Ryan Fitzpatrick experiment.

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Jacob Burns

Jacob Burns

University at Buffalo ’20 | BA in Communication | Writer for The Sports Scientist & Kicks N’ Cleats

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