NFL 2020 Team by Team Year in Review and Look Ahead to 2021: Washington Football Team

2020 Grades on everything from the draft, front office and coaching staff, and players. First look at potential 2021 retained, outgoing, and incoming free agents, fits and needs, and mock drafts.

-John Turner

The Washington Redskins hired a new coach for the 2020 season, who was probably hoping to get a full offseason with his new staff and players. However 2020 had different plans as Covid-19 hit. Stripping the entire league of its training camps and interviewing process, and thus hindering their ability to bring in free agents in the same fashion as they have been accustomed to for years. Long time All Pro left tackle Trent Williams refused to come back to the team after a full year hold out stemming from a beef between himself, then medical staff, and team President Bruce Allen, so he had to be dealt to San Francisco.

Then of course, major sponsors including FedEx(who owns the naming rights to the stadium WFT plays their home games in) joined the cancel culture movement when they decided, it would no longer be a sponsor to the team if they did not immediately change their name. This would not only have an impact on Washington, but throughout the league as it has a shared revenue system in place. Enter Football Team. But wait, there’s more… Newly appointed head coach Ron Rivera is then diagnosed with cancer and immediately starts undergoing treatments. Just about every expert in America across major media platforms picked the newly dubbed Washington Football Team to not only finish last in the NFC East, but to be in the running for Trevor Lawrence all season long. However, as Chris Berman would always say, “that’s why they play the game”.

After an absolutely embarresing end to the 2019 campaign, the team decided to clean house, and rightfully so. They brought in the captain of the riverboat himself, Ron Rivera. Also they made a move at team president, hiring Jason Wright.

Team PresidentBruce AllenJason WrightJason Wright
General ManagerMartin Mayhew
Executive VP of Player PersonnelMarty Hurney
Sr VP of Player DevelopmentDoug Williams
Sr VP of Football AdministrationRob Rogers
Sr VP of Player PersonnelDoug WilliamsDoug WilliamsKyle Smith
Director of Pro ScoutsEric StokesEric Stokes
Director of College ScoutsKyle SmithKyle SmithTim Gribble
Sr VP of Football OperationsEric Schaffer
Director of Pro PersonnelAlex Santos
Photo Credit: Down Town Sports Network

The Ron Burgundy and Gold era began. The well respected former member of the 85 Bears immediately started reinventing the coaching staff. There’s not many around the league that don’t have good things to say about Rivera. He’s a proven leader of men and his teams are typically always competitive. I’m not at all surprised that Snyder wouldn’t let him out of the building before signing a contract. It appeared he had say so on personnel on and off the field and he’d immediately start forming his staff…

Defensive CoordinatorGreg ManuskyJack Del Rio
Defensive LineJim TomsulaSam Mills III
Assistant D LineJeff Zgonina
LinebackersSteve Russ
Outside LinebackersChad Grimm
Inside LinebackersRob Ryan
Defensive BacksChris Harris
Assistant DBsJames RoweBrent Vieselmeyer
Richard Rodgers Sr
Defensive Quality ControlCannon MatthewsVincent Rivera
Kyshoen Jarrett
Photo Credit: Washington FT

Starting with Jack Del Rio at defensive coordinator, the team made it clear they’d be switching from a base 3-4 to a 4-3. Del Rio quickly noted that in his opinion, Montez Sweat and Ryan Kerrigan had been playing out of position up to this point. If the pairing of Del Rio and Rivera wasn’t a sign that defense was going to be a priority, you don’t watch much football. Rivera has fielded a top 10 defense five of his nine years with the Panthers. Del Rio has put out a top five defense four times and another four top ten defenses across three different teams since being a coordinator or head coach.

Offensive CoordinatorKevin O’ConnellScott Turner
Quarterbacks CoachTim RattayKen Zampese
Running BacksRandy JordanRandy Jordan
Wide ReceiversIke HilliardJim Hostler
Assistant WRsDrew Terrell
Tight EndsBrian AngelichioPete Hoener
Offensive LineBill CallahanJohn Matsko
Assistant O LineTravele Wharton
Offensive AssistantMatt Cavenaugh
Offensive Quality ControlChris O’HaraLuke Del Rio
Photo Credit: The Athletic

Scott Turner, who’s father coached in Washington for seven seasons was brought in to run the offense. He’d aim to transform a finesse West Coast Offense over to hybrid Air Coryell system. At only 38 years old he already has 15 years of coaching experience. In his second season working with Teddy Bridgewater as a quarterbacks coach the team went 11-5 and Teddy went to the Pro Bowl. 2015 also his only season working with a quarterback that remained healthy for entire season.

Photo Credit: Roto World

Free Agency hit first with the team and the new staff was able to plug in some starters with very few misses. J.D. McKissic ended the season with 954 total yards and four touchdowns, while being a major part of the offense including being second on the team in catches. Logan Thomas had a break out season going 72 for 670 and 6 TDs. Through the course of the season he’d line up at Tight End, Fullback, Wide Receiver, and Quarterback. Scott Turner much like with Gibson And McKissic, just found more unique ways to utilize him as the season progressed.

Lastly two home town Cornerbacks came home with Kendall Fuller coming back from Kansas City and Ronald Darby coming down 95 south from Philadelphia. Fuller played with Blake Countess and Stefon Diggs at Good Councel High School during the same time Darby went to Potomac High School in the neighboring county. No shortage of talent comes out of the DMV so fans were excited to see them in the Burgundy and Gold.

NamePosition2020 Grade
Kendall FullerCBA
Logan ThomasTEA
J.D. McKissicRBB
Ronald DarbyCBB-
Wes SchweitzerOGC+
Cornelius LucasOTC
Peyton BarberRBC
Jon BosticLBC
Photo Credit: The Spun

With the second overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft there were very few that had Washington selecting none other than Chase Young. Chase would end up with 7.5 sacks, four forced fumbles, three recoveries, a touchdown, and a defensive rookie of the year award. Outside of pass rush though, they needed help all across the board. Playmaker Antonio Gibson fell to them in round three. In only one season of part time work as a senior he had 12 touchdowns on 71 offensive touches at Memphis. Linebacker Khaleke Hudson and Safety Kamren Curl turned out to be late round steals as they provided quality play as rookies all season long.

RoundPlayerPickPositionCollege2020 Grade
1Chase Young2DEOhio St.A+
3Antonio Gibson66RBMemphisA
4Saahdiq Charles108TLSUTBD
4Antonio Gandy-Golden142WRLibertyTBD
5Keith Ismael156CSan Diego St.TBD
5Khaleke Hudson162LBMichiganC+
7Kamren Curl216SArkansasB+
7James Smith-Williams229DENorth Carolina St.TBD
Photo Credit: Owl Sports

Following the 2020 NFL Draft they were able to pick up a couple of players players that could end up being key contributors in the future with Isaiah Wright and Thaddeus Moss. Wright would see plenty of playing time as Turner carved out a few design plays for him throughout the season. Unfortunately Moss would be put on the team’s Injured Reserve and not see a down of action his rookie season. He posted 570 yards on 47 catches with 4 touchdowns in his lone season at LSU.

Photo Credit: The Spun

The season was almost a reflection of the way the team played nearly each game. It was a “Tale of Two Halves”. Still trying to figure out exactly what they could be on offense, having little to absolutely no offseason to prep with and preseason being cancelled altogether, it wasn’t much of a surprise to see the team struggle to out score their opponents.

Though the defense would keep them in nearly every game, the offense only managed to score more than 20 points twice in the first half of the season and those were weeks one and seven… both victories. Also it probably didn’t help that by the half way point the team had seen three different quarterbacks start games. Be that as it may they’d continue on.

Philadelphia Eagles1070017
Washington Football Team0771327
Washington Football Team0031215
Arizona Cardinals14601030
Washington Football Team7013020
Cleveland Browns01701734
Baltimore Ravens7147331
Washington Football Team0100717
Los Angeles Rams6143730
Washington Football Team730010
Washington Football Team0100919
New York Giants1030720
Dallas Cowboys30003
Washington Football Team9130325
New York Giants10103023
Washington Football Team0371020
Photo Credit: ESPN

Did I mention it was a Tale of Two Halves? The Football Team would go on to help Alex Smith win Comeback Player of the Year, give up more than 20 points only once, and unleash the Legend of Taylor Heinicke in the ladder half of the year. They entered the stretch at 2-6 with both wins proving to be being pivitol, as they were against divisional opponents. The front four on defense absolutely terrorized backfields. The make shift offensive line while not being confused with The Hogs, would finish the year ranked 13th per PFF.

Wanna know how good this first year coaching staff was this season? In the first eight games they’d outscore their opponents 84-57 in the second half of games, pitching two second half shutouts in the process. In the second half of the year they’d outscore the opposition 116-34 with another three second half shutouts. If that’s not making second half adjustments I don’t know what is.

Failure to adjust was also one of the main issues with the last few coaching regimes. Two of the magic numbers for the year were 24 and 21. They went 7-4 when they held their opponent to less than 24, and went 5-1 when scoring more than 21! Imagine this team having an actual offseason with another solid year of free agency and draft class.

They’d go 5-3 in the second half and not only win the NFC East with a 7-9 record, but completely derail the season of mighty and at the time 11-0, undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers in the process. Unfortunately the prize for that was playing the greatest quarterback of all time in the playoffs in the Wild Card Round. Although they played well enough to beat many teams that day, I’m not sure any others were making the GOAT go home early. But hey we swept Dallas by blowout games… so we got that goin for us, which is nice.

Washington Football Team3071727
Detroit Lions7107630
Cincinnati Bengals09009
Washington Football Team7010320
Washington Football Team71032141
Dallas Cowboys3103016
Washington Football Team0371323
Pittsburgh Steelers0140317
Washington Football Team01310023
San Francisco 49ers700815
Seattle Seahawks3107020
Washington Football Team0301215
Carolina Panthers6140020
Washington Football Team033713
Washington Football Team1070320
Philadelphia Eagles0140014

A losing season that actually shows progress in Washington is a rare feat, however that’s exactly what occurred. As of now they go into the offseason with plenty of cap space and eight draft picks they’re set themselves up nicely. They’ve already brought in a new General Manager in Martin Mayhew and a new Executive VP of Player Personnel in Marty Hurney. Between those two and Kyle Smith (Senior VP of Player Personnel), that’s a lot of very good talent evaluators sitting at a conference table. It won’t be easy though, as The NFL Combine and personal workouts have been canceled already due to Covid chaos of 2020 now eating into 2021.

You could never convince me that it’s safe to play the game of football but not safe enough to hold a combine but I’ll rant about that on my next show and no here. That said let’s take a look at some of the moves I think they should or could make that may help set them up to win the division again with a better than 7-9 record. First up will be some of the pending free agents I think they should consider bringing back.

Photo Credit: NBC Sports

Brandon Scherff is one of the best Right Tackles in the game. I’d estimate he’s worth about five years at around $80 million and I believe he’s worth every penny, athlough it would be nice if he could stay healthy for more games than he has thus far. Ronald Darby was’nt the lockdown of all lockdown corners but he was good enough at CB2 to consider bringing back. He had trouble with double moves and was burnt a few times, but who knows… if a healthy Landon Collins returns he’d have some help over the top theoretically.

Two wild cards for me are The Show Stopper, Ryan Kerrigan and Rueben Foster. Foster hasn’t played a single down since being picked up here but if he’d like to sign for the veteran minimum, no risk to the team contract I don’t see the problem… he may very well end up one of those players that overcome previous injuries and salvage his career. Ryan has made it clear he’d like to play where he can start… I love the guy and hope he finds a big payday, but I think after he tests the market, he may find that perhaps the best deal available might be a 2 year deal thats reasonable for both parties to stick around be part of a solid rotation in part time work. Most of the other FAs that are of the restricted variety I believe will return.

NamePositionAge2021 GradePosition RankingFA Type
Brandon ScherffG2986.34UFA
Ronald DarbyCB2769.831UFA
Cam SimsWR2562.597ERFA
Fabian MoreauCB27UFA
Jeremy ReavesS2584.14ERFA
Kyle AllenQB25ERFA
Ryan KerriganDE3359.383UFA
Jordan KunaszykLB24RFA
Danny JohnsonCB25RFA
Reuben FosterILB27UFA
Photo Credit: Colts

Then we have free agents of other teams that may be available if they decide not to re up with their current clubs and don’t command a King’s Ransom. Taylor Moton sticks out for the simple fact that PFF has him ranked as the highest RT in the game for the 2020 season. He was drafted by Rivera and Hurney so they may have a slight advantage there. Zach Pascal is a true WR2 and many would argue Washington needs to make that a priority this offseason. While I don’t feel as strongly about NEEDING a compliment opposite Terrific Terry McLaurin, I also don’t think the asking price would be that steep for Pascal.

Every single other player I list either has a local tie, a tie to Rivera and Hurney, or in the case of Richard Rodgers a tie to the coaching staff, as his father is on it. One wild card not mentioned is the return of left tackle Trent Williams. He had issues with members of the staff as mentioned above, but those folks are now no longer in the organization.

NameCurrent TeamPositionAge2021 GradePosition RankingFA Type
Taylor MotonCARRT2781.214UFA
John JohnsonLARSS2587.43UFA
Zach PascalINDWR2662.992RFA
Mo Alie-CoxINDTE2781.06ERFA
Richard RodgersPHITE2988.62UFA
Yannick NgakoueBALDE2669.439UFA
Shaquil BarrettTBOLB2871.129UFA
Alex ArmahCARFB2757.08UFA
Photo Credit: The Athletic

Last but certainly not least… the 2021 NFL Draft. There’s a bonanza of talent available this year so even if you don’t get your guy… but wait, there’s more. I’ve put together a mock draft and after several attempts I took the average of my 7 mocks. I based my selections on need, as well as how I personally think the staff in Washington likes to build a roster.

Most will say that Washington needs to get their guy of the future now ad while I can kinda sorta agree, I feel that if you can’t protect him or surround him with a few weapons, he’s as good as a bust. That said I love Christian Darrisaw. Big, bad, local. Hard to go wrong with Brevin Jordan and or Chuba Hubbard in the mid rounds. Brady Breeze shouldn’t have opted out this year, but if the right team takes him, he’ll be a star. Damon Hazelton could end up being one of those Marques Colston type late round gems.

NameCurrent TeamPosition
Christian DarrisawVirginia TechOT
Alex LeatherwoodAlabamaOG
Brevin JordanMiamiTE
Chuba HubbardOklahoma StateRB
James WigginsCincinnatiS
Tommy KreaemerNotre DameOG
Brady BreezeOregonS
Damon HazeltonMissouriWR

WFT came a long way back to respectability, and I believe they’ll build off that in 2021. Moving forward I think they’ll be rough as they’ll be as tough as they come. Who know’s what Ron and the crew will do… It’s A Football World, we’re all just passing through.

Feature image photo credit: Washington Football Wire

One thought on “NFL 2020 Team by Team Year in Review and Look Ahead to 2021: Washington Football Team

  • January 28, 2021 at 11:26 pm

    As usual, you’ve smashed it outta the park mate. Have shared on the socials, a must-read for Football Team fans.

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