With training camp underway, the Washington Football Team may have their most complete team in the Daniel Snyder era. But, with the plethora of offseason additions, Washington will have many questions to answer before their season openers against the Los Angeles Chargers. Here are three training camp questions for the Washington Football Team.
Three Washington Football Team Training Camp Questions
1. How will the New Offensive Pieces fit with Scott Turner’s System?
Last season, Washington struggled mightily on the offensive end as they ranked 25th in points per game. This was primarily because of the lack of quarterback play. Four quarterbacks started for the Washington Football Team last season and it amounted to an average quarterback rating of 80.0, which was 28th in the NFL. However, these offensive struggles were also attributed to the lack of weapons on offense. Terry McLaurin shined, catching 87 passes for 1,118 yards, but he was often bracketed in with the lack of a second receiving option. Logan Thomas and J.D. McKissic proved to be excellent offseason acquisitions, with 670 and 589 receiving yards respectively. But, the second-leading wide receiver was Cam Sims who came on late in the 2020 season.
However, Washington will have a new-look offense with Ryan Fitzpatrick at the helm. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins were 30th and 34th in the NFL in yards per attempt last season, resulting in a more horizontal passing game. But, Fitzpatrick was seventh in this category at 7.8. Ron Rivera and company also signed Curtis Samuel to a three-year contract. Samuel is an all-around weapon as he was used in the slot and the backfield last season. With Joe Brady and the Panthers, Samuel racked up 1051 yards from scrimmages, including 200 on the ground. But, he figures to be more of a prototypical outside receiver next season.
They also drafted North Carolina speedster Dyami Brown in the third round, who could be yet another vertical threat for Washington. Finally, Kelvin Harmon also returns for Washington after suffering a torn ACL last season.
With these new and versatile pieces, it will be interesting how they will be utilized in Scott Turner’s system.
2. Position Battles at Wide Receiver and Safety
Prior to head coach Ron Rivera taking the reins, Washington had always struggled with developing proper depth at key positions. While there are depth questions at a few positions (more on this later), talent is plentiful at various positions on both sides of the ball. First, the wide receiver position battles will be the most fascinating on the offensive side of the ball. The top three receivers should be McLaurin, Samuel, and Brown, but after that, it is very much up in the air. Cam Sims and Adam Humphries appear to be close to locks, but seem to be on the second tier of receivers.
Following the first five, the last roster spot is very much open. Last year’s fourth-round pick, Antonio Gandy-Golden struggled last year, catching just one pass on seven targets. Kelvin Harmon is also returning from an ACL injury after a strong rookie season in 2019, where he caught 30 passes for 365 yards. Like Harmon, Steven Sims also had a strong rookie season, but he battled drops and fumbles on offense and special teams last year. Both of them face an uphill battle to the roster as they are both draft picks or signings from the previous regime. Dax Milne, Isaiah Wright, DeAndre Carter, and Tony Brown will also be in the mix.
Perhaps the deepest position group for Washington is the safety position. Landon Collins is returning after a brutal torn Achilles injury limited him to just seven games last season. In those seven games, Collins did not play up to his standard, creating rumors of a potential switch to linebacker, which have been quelled over the summer. However, in the midst of a six-year, $84 million contract, Collins, a 2020 captain, enters as the leader of the safety group. A major reason for the linebacker rumors was the play of seventh-round rookie Kamren Curl. Curl had 88 tackles last season along with three interceptions and four tackles for loss. He may be the best tackler in the safety room, which is surprising given his draft status and inexperience. It will be interesting to see how he will be used as his skillset has some overlap with Collins.
Deshazor Everett, a special teams captain, filled in admirably at free safety prior to a season-ending torn pectoral. He added a physical, hard-hitting nature to the secondary, which was lacking. After Everett went down, Jeremy Reaves also filled in well in the center field role. Reaves had a PFF grade of 81.2 last season, which was fifth in the NFL at the safety position. Finally, Washington drafted Darrick Forrest in the fourth round and signed Bobby McCain to a one-year deal. McCain should slide into the starting free safety role.
Jeremy Reaves (81.2): ⭐️
5th highest graded Safety in the NFL pic.twitter.com/JR0jUkclOe
— PFF Washington (@PFF_Washington) January 5, 2021
3. Depth Questions at EDGE and Tight End
While Washington possesses depth at wide receiver and safety, EDGE is a very questionable position heading into 2021. They have one of, if not the best, pass-rushing duos in the NFL with 2020 Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young and Montez Sweat. Both pass-rushers combined for 16.5 sacks last season. However, with injury risk, as evidenced by Nick Bosa last season, and possible Covid-19 issues on the horizon, there could be major pass-rushing issues for Washington.
After losing Ryan Kerrigan in free agency, the Burgundy and Gold will turn to returning reserves Casey Toohill and James Smith-Williams. Both players played sparingly last season, combining for three quarterback hits, and were special teams contributors. In the draft, the Washington Football Team drafted Shaka Toney and William Bradley-King. Toney may get some looks as the strong-side linebacker, further limiting the pass-rushing options. There will be an emphasis on finding that third EDGE rusher in training camp.
The Washington tight end group received a bit more long-term stability earlier this week as Logan Thomas signed a three-year extension worth $24 million. However, after Thomas, there are many questions in the tight end group. Fourth-round pick John Bates should be in line for a reserve role, but it is unknown whether he will be the second or third tight end. Bates is in a similar mold as Thomas as both lack the true vertical threat that Washington has been lacking since Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis. After Bates, fan-favorite Sammis Reyes has many fans enamored with his physical tools, but the team will need to develop him slowly given his inexperience. Ricky Seals-Jones offers a veteran presence who could be a vertical threat and Temmarrick Hemmingway could be a practice squad option.
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