The Washington Football Team has two wins on the season, so their season is still capable of being saved in a top-heavy NFC. However, doesn’t it feel like this team is worse than their record says they are?
If you think about it, both of their wins didn’t really feel like wins. In both games — Week 2 vs the Giants and Week 4 vs the Falcons — Taylor Heinicke was forced to play hero in order for the team squeak out last-ditch victories.
Good teams win convincingly against bad teams. Washington needed improbable fourth quarter comebacks to beat New York and Atlanta. Washington was held scoreless in the second half against the Chiefs on Sunday after jumping out to a 13-10 lead and lost by 18 points at home.
See that pattern?
So, what or who is to blame for the Football Team’s shortcomings? While the head coach isn’t instilling the no-nonsense culture that was promised and countless players have regressed after excellent showings in 2020, we can’t help but point to the offseason as the biggest culprit.
The Washington Football Team’s 2021 offseason was a disaster.
Does anybody disagree?
Let’s take it back to last year. Logan Thomas, Ronald Darby, JD McKissic and Cornelius Lucas highlighted Washington’s free agent class. All players arrived with question marks and each of them exceeded expectations.
While Darby has moved on, Thomas is an elite tight end, McKissic is the best third-down back in the league that nobody talks about, and Lucas conceded just two sacks over 536 snaps in 2020 and has been even more dominant this year.
Ok, what about the draft? Chase Young, one of the most raved about pass-rushing prospects in recent memory, lived up to the hype by winning Defensive Rookie of the Year honors. The 2020 No. 2 overall pick racked up 7.5 sacks, 10 tackles for loss, 12 QB hits, 40 pressures and four forced fumbles.
Antonio Gibson, a third-round pick last year, is a certified stud at the running back position … despite playing wide receiver over his two years at Memphis. What a find that was by the front office.
Additionally, seventh-rounder Kamren Curl was a pleasant surprise last year and is the secondary’s most consistent performer this season.
Let’s fast forward to 2021. William Jackson, Curtis Samuel, Ryan Fitzpatrick, and Adam Humphries highlighted this year’s free agent class. Yikes.
Where do we even begin? For starters, Jackson doesn’t look like he fits the defensive scheme. He has the most penalties amongst defensive players, and would’ve been called for another on Sunday, but it was negated because the receiver he was covering, Demarcus Robinson, scored a TD on the play.
It’s not a stretch to call Jackson one of the worst free agent signings of any team from this past offseason.
Not far behind him, though, is Curtis Samuel, who’s played all of 30 snaps this season due to a groin injury. Samuel re-aggravated the injury, which shelved him for all of training camp, in Week 5 and has since been labeled week-to-week.
At this point, it’s anyone’s guess if the talented wideout, whom Washington signed to a three-year, $34.5 million deal in the offseason, will contribute this year.
Fitzpatrick, as we know, has been sidelined since Week 1 with a hip subluxation. That wasn’t his fault, obviously, but that’s the risk you run when you sign a 38-year-old journeyman to be your starter. While Taylor Heinicke started out strong in Fitz’s absence, he’s since come back down to earth.
As for Humphries, well, he was signed largely due to his history with Fitzpatrick. The shifty slot receiver has struggled without Fitz, averaging 2.5 catches for 24.8 yards per game. Again, not what Washington signed up for.
Finally, we arrive at the 2021 draft class.
We’ve said our piece on first-rounder Jamin Davis, who was clearly drafted with an eye on the future as opposed to an immediate contributor. Blame the front office all you want for taking that approach, but fans are right to be up in arms about the team’s No. 19 overall pick playing 46% of the defensive snaps thus far.
Through six games, Davis has just 27 tackles and one QB hit.
Sam Cosmi, Washington’s second-round pick, looks like a stud in the making at right tackle. He’s already an elite run blocker, so no complaints there. Third-rounder Dyami Brown, on the other hand, has barely made an impact. He’s struggled with a knee injury and dropped a potential touchdown on Sunday. No, the catch wasn’t easy, but fans expect more from the former UNC star, and rightly so.
Washington struck gold in the third round a few year’s back in the form of Terry Mclaurin. Right now, Brown has eight receptions for 81 yards in five games. For comparison’s sake, McLaurin posted 23 catches for 408 yards and five touchdowns over the first five games of his rookie year in 2019.
As for the rest of the 2021 draft class, Benjamin St-Juste has cooled down after a hot start. Other than that, long-snapper Camaron Cheeseman has been the only consistent contributor.
It’s really not that complicated. While Washington deserves all the slings and arrows they’ve taken amid their 2-4 start, and fans deserve answers for why some returning players aren’t performing up to snuff, keep in mind that they’ve largely gotten zero production from most of their newcomers.
That would sabotage any team. It’s far from the only problem in Ashburn, but the 2021 offseason is the biggest culprit for Washington’s early-season failures, and it’s not all that close.