Through eight games, it is safe to say that the Washington Football Team has underperformed this season. Injuries and a lack of direction at the quarterback position have led to a listless offense that has failed to score 15 points in each of the last three games.
Meanwhile, a defensive unit that was expected to rank among the league’s best enters the bye week ranked 27th in yards allowed per game (389.4) and points allowed per game (28.4).
With the franchise on the verge of yet another lost season, fans can struggle to find any sort of high points. Mixed inside the disappointment of a team that’s failed to meet expectations, though, are glimmers of optimism surrounding players whom Washington can build around for the future.
JD Mckissic is one of those players.
JD McKissic is becoming a valuable asset in the backfield
Last season, JD McKissic ranked second in receptions and third in receiving yards on the Washington Football Team.
Through eight games, McKissic is on pace to repeat that performance.
Thus far in 2021, McKissic has tallied 33 receptions and 332 receiving yards, trailing only wide receiver Terry McLaurin in both marks. While Washington certainly would rather a wide receiver be McLaurin’s receiving complement, injuries to Dyami Brown and Curtis Samuel have required Washington’s offense to renew McKissic’s role from last year as a pass-catching back.
McKissic’s snaps have also gone up as the season has gone on, due in part to injuries to running back Antonio Gibson and tight end Logan Thomas, and the fact that Washington has often played from behind this season.
Second on the team in touches, McKissic leads all Washington running backs with 7.1 yards per touch. For a team that has had to throw the ball more often to keep pace (thanks to the defense), he has delivered with reliable yardage and the ability to generate yards after the catch.
Perhaps the most valuable part about McKissic’s stellar play thus far is his team-friendly contract. The six-year pro’s cap hit is only $1.66 million as he finishes out the second half of a two-year, $3.27 million deal signed prior to the 2020 season.
With the value McKissic has brought to the table this season, the Washington Football Team would be wise to try to retain the 28-year-old on another short-term deal, as McKissic is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent once his contract expires after the season.
In addition, McKissic provided Washington fans with perhaps the greatest highlight of the season so far: a game-winning 30-yard touchdown reception against the Atlanta Falcons that resulted from a Taylor Heinicke checkdown pass.
Of course, McKissic taking on such a heavy load in targets reveals a two-pronged issue in Washington: no real answer at quarterback and the lack of a true, healthy No. 2 receiver. While those priorities will certainly be addressed in the offseason, McKissic is still worth having for a team that will likely trail in games early in 2022, too.
McKissic and the rest of his teammates will look to get back to form on Nov. 14 in a home matchup against the defending NFL champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.