J.D. McKissic and Logan Thomas have bolstered the Washington Football Team’s offense this season.
Prior to the 2020 season, the idea that the Washington Football Team would be preparing for a playoff game in January would have been inconceivable.
Coming off a 3-13 season that saw Washington finish last in the NFC, Washington entered the season with a new head coach, question marks at quarterback and numerous scandals involving owner Dan Snyder. Oh, and did we mention the name change?
Despite these obstacles, Washington sewed up its third NFC East title in nine seasons with a 20-14 victory over the listless Philadelphia Eagles on Sunday night. The win improved Washington’s record to 7-9, one game clear of the New York Giants in the divisional race.
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While much of the credit for Washington’s success belongs to a defense that ranks fourth in points allowed, a pair of journeymen at offensive skill positions has bolstered an offense that at times ranked amongst the worst in the NFL.
Just before halftime Sunday, Washington took a 17-14 lead thanks to an incredible touchdown catch by tight end Logan Thomas. Thomas, a former quarterback from Virginia Tech, elevated to make the catch over Eagles linebacker T.J. Edwards. Washington would hold the lead for the rest of the game.
Thomas has found a new home in Washington, where he has enjoyed a breakout campaign. Thomas signed a two-year, $6.14 million deal in the offseason after spending a season with the Detroit Lions.
In the regular season, Thomas rewarded the Washington Football Team by becoming a breakout starter at a position that has been difficult to fill. Thomas started 15 games in 2020, registering a team-high six touchdown catches and tallying 670 receiving yards. In addition, Thomas has set career-high marks in every major receiving category. Only wide receiver Terry McLaurin had more targets and yards than Thomas during the regular season.
Rivaling Thomas’ claim for breakout performer of the year is running back J.D. McKissic. While McKissic closed the regular season on a lackluster note, tallying 30 yards on seven touches, he has proven to be a surprisingly effective receiving option.
McKissic signed with the Washington Football team in the offseason after spending two years with the Seattle Seahawks. His two-year, $3.27 million deal ended up being an excellent deal for a player that ranked third in receiving yards and second in receptions for the Washington Football Team.
Like Thomas, McKissic capitalized on his opportunity in Washington, setting career highs in rushing yards, receptions and receiving yards. While McKissic did not score as many touchdowns as fellow running backs Antionio Gibson and Peyton Barber, McKissic has been effective in helping Washington’s offense between the 20s. All told, McKissic nearly registered 1,000 scrimmage yards, falling just 46 yards short.
McKissic’s receiving prowess ranked among the best in the NFL amongst running backs. His 80 receptions ranked second in the league for a running back, trailing only Saints star Alvin Kamara. McKissic led all running backs in targets with 110, tied with Thomas for second-most on the Washington Football Team.
As NFC East champions, Washington now turns its attention to the postseason. Washington will host Tom Brady and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Saturday night in a rematch of Washington’s last postseason win in 2005. Despite being the road team, the 11-5 Buccaneers enter the contest as the favorites.
If Washington wants to shock the world again and pull off the upset, it will need to lean on its breakout weapons. Thomas has been peaking late in the season, scoring three touchdowns on 42 targets in the last seven games. Meanwhile, with the quarterback position up in the air heading into Saturday, McKissic represents a crucial safety valve in case Alex Smith or Taylor Heinicke end up under duress.
Beyond this postseason, the Washington Football Team front office and fans can be comforted by the fact that the team has a clear tight end and third-down passing back under contract for 2021 with a minimal cap hit. The Washington Football Team now must hope that McKissic and Thomas can carry over their breakout seasons into the playoffs.