The issues with the masterplan of the Washington Football Team
The Washington Football Team has attempted to build its football team the so-called “right way.” Plug up all the holes and then plop in a rookie quarterback on a cheap contract. Or plug in a 38-year old quarterback on a talented roster, as the Washington Football Team did this offseason, and see if that is enough.
Ron Rivera spoke this offseason, most notably on the Cris Collinsworth Podcast, about how he thought getting league-average play at quarterback, behind his projected elite defense, could lead to success.
Rivera was probably right. Getting average play at quarterback, with an elite defense can be a recipe for success. The 49ers almost won the Super Bowl in 2020 doing that.
However, there is one huge caveat. It is not sustainable. The NFL has rules far too slanted towards the offense, to have truly “dominant” defenses anymore. It is hard to sustain elite success year-over-year in the NFL on defense.
And most importantly very creative play-callers are needed to get the most out of the “average” quarterbacks. See Kyle Shanahan with Jimmy Garropolo and Sean McVay with Jared Goff. The jury is still out in that regard on Scott Turner.
The Football Outsider’s Almanac stated that regression should be expected for Washington’s defense. A defense that jumps up in their rankings in one year as much as Washington did in 2020, historically regresses. Regression should have been expected, it was just ignored due to the immense talent on both the defensive line and in the secondary.
As 2021 has shown Washington, “elite defenses” are unsustainable. The Bears tried a similar strategy to the one Washington is trying right now, and they are in perpetual mediocrity.
Washington’s defense will most likely rebound to be at least league average. By season’s end, they may even be top ten. And it is possible that the moxie of Taylor Heinicke, with the hopeful addition of Curtis Samuel, can keep Washington afloat until Ryan Fitzpatrick returns from his hip injury.
However, that road is most likely destined for merely an average football team. A team that ranges from 7-10 wins every year and a team that will always pick in the teens. They will always be good but never great. Never contenders.
Maybe they will luck into a miraculous playoff run. But again, that strategy is not likely nor sustainable.
That is why the long-term vision for Washington must change. This upcoming offseason, they must be as aggressive as possible in finding the long-term answer at quarterback. Heinicke is a great story, but his physical limitations cap his ceiling.
Whether it is through the draft, free agency, or a blockbuster trade for a superstar QB, Washington needs to find their answer this offseason. They simply cannot try to win with “league average” play. That is an unsustainable path, on a road to nowhere.
It will only lead them down a path that is miring in mediocrity. And right now, that is the trajectory this franchise is on. The long-term vision must change if Washington ever wants to truly contend.
Washington’s season is far from over and salvageable. However, a serious look in the mirror is needed to take that next step.