There’s always an inherent urgency among onlookers to know who’s starting and who’s not. And that makes the Redskins current situation particularly precarious.
The Washington Redskins, in the first offseason of Ron Rivera’s tenure, are clearly in rebuild mode. Their attempts to be aggressive in free agency failed, and as a result, they reverted to low-cost, low-risk, and high-upside signings across the board.
At the end of it all, you could argue that the Redskins only got one surefire starter — Kendall Fuller — amidst a crop of free agent acquisitions that currently numbers over a dozen. Heading into April, there are still a great deal of questions that need answering across the Redskins roster.
But maybe that’s how Rivera wanted it.
A rebuild doesn’t work if players don’t have to work for it the same way coaches have to work for it. A rebuild doesn’t occur by giving jobs to players. It’s always smart to add talent and give that talent the requisite opportunity to shine, but starting roles must be earned to some degree, and not simply bestowed upon players. That’s the philosophy Rivera has clearly taken with the Redskins 2020 roster.
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All across Washington’s 2020 squad, competition is being bred organically. Look at the wide receiver group, where seven pass catchers now linger behind the returning group of 2019 rookies. Look at the tight end position, where veterans and young developmental prospects alike are set to vie for playing time. Look at the line, where Wes Martin now has Wes Schweitzer to worry about, and where Cornelius Lucas, a swing tackle with starting experience, has a chance to earn a more permanent role. Even at quarterback, Dwayne Haskins, while expected to retain his role as starter, has backup Kyle Allen to glean motivation from.
Go to the defensive side of the ball, where Thomas Davis, Reuben Foster, Cole Holcomb, Shaun Dion Hamilton, Josh Harvey-Clemons, and Kevin Pierre-Louis will all presumably battle to contribute. To the secondary, where Fuller, Fabian Moreau, and Ronald Darby all await the inevitable draft selection, and where Sean Davis comprises an incomplete safety group.
The anticipation is mounting, as the seeds of competition have already been planted, and everyone knows that the gardening process will only continue in the 2020 NFL Draft. If Ron Rivera can’t make a monster in his first offseason, he instead intends to cultivate a situation where the players compensate, and potentially capitalize on opportunity.
There’s no guarantee that competition will give the Redskins the answers they seek. But it’s one way to force the issue, and expedite the conflict along positional lines. If nothing else, it’s a way to maximize the team’s depth and establish a culture of accountability, for a 2021 offseason that figures to be much, much more interesting.