- John Turner
Sometimes it only takes a new head, three ex general managers, a new team president, a few solid drafts in a row, a dynasty worthy defensive line, having your team name cancelled changed to the most generic name possible, releasing a local born first round quarterback midway through his second season, having a quarterback left for dead by J.J. Watt win comeback player of the year and then releasing him afterwards, having your new coach be diagnosed with and then defeat cancer, having the team cheerleaders sue the owner for sexual allegations and then canning them for a co-ed dance off squad, having the minority share owners take the majority owner to task by either proclaiming to want out or by forcing the majority owner to sell, and winning your division at 7-9 to turn a franchise around. Once a struggling franchise can endure these things in a calendar year they are then ready to take on an apocalypse!!! Welcome to 2021 Washington Football Team fans!!! So far, so good.
It began with the hiring of ex general managers Marty Hurney, Martin Mayhew, and Chris Polian. Hurney was last seen working with head coach Ron Rivera in Carolina, Mayhew was recently brought back to the District from San Francisco, and Polian was most recently added as director of pro personnel after his time in Jacksonville. These four minds in collaboration with now second year team president Jason Wright haven’t wasted much time thus far in reshaping the team as they gear up for another competitive run in the most important division in sports, the NFC East. They know what they want, they know what they’re doing, they have a plan, and they are getting after it. In the few days free agency has been open they have filled three major holes that are integral to what they are looking to build. They’ve also done a great job in retaining a few pieces that are of importance to the fabric of team building. Let’s start off with the Pick3:
The first guy in the door was in the hour of the wolf of day one of free agency in Ryan Fitzpatrick. That’s right, the Techno Viking himself no rocks the Burgundy and Gold. Fitzpatrick is like a hairier, version of Jay Cutler, but one who unlike smokin’ Jay, actually enjoys the everyday work that constitutes a wining attitude, and the ability to be an ultimate team player. Where they are similar is that Ryan is not afraid to throw one up and allow a target to go make a play. Has he thrown a ton of interceptions in his career? Well… they don’t call him Fitztragic for nothing. However, teammates like him, he’s brilliant as he boasts the all time highest Wonderlic score after graduating from Harvard, and he’s got a magnetic personality. He understands his role and he’s not a control freak. People can say he’s not the long term solution and that’s fine. At $10 million a yearn doesn’t have to be Trevor Lawrence. They just need to be smart, helpful, and keep this team in the hunt while showing the younger quarterbacks on the roster how to be just that. Give this guy a defense and a few weapons and he’s more productive at half the price of the guy he’s replacing. That’s also not a knock on Alex Smith either. Fans of Washington appreciated what he did here and will always remember it, but a series of unfortunate events and bad management led us to where we are today. So in reality the divorce was as about as inevitable as Thanos.
Next through the doors at FT park was wide receiver Curtis Samuel. Samuel has blazing speed and likes to play in the slot or the flanker position. He also has the ability to motion in to and or line up in the backfield to take handoffs, direct snaps, or go out on routes. In four seasons his rushing and receiving touches and yards have all increased each year leading to his career highs in 2020. He’s a gadget player. Scott Turner, like his father Norv Turner, loves gadget players. Last season we saw Terry McLaurin lineup pretty much anywhere on the field as a wide out and they found more and more ways throughout the course of the season to get him into space while being almost the only reliable receiver on the team. They also used rookie running back from Memphis, gadget players Antonio Gibson and J.D. McKissick as guys they could put out wide and or share the backfield in interesting 20, 21, and 22 personnel packages. Enter Samuel. With his speed, route running ability, hands, and willingness to take handoffs, he will not only be a deadly weapon in the hybrid Air Coryell system, but he may likely extend the careers of Gibson and McKissick while helping Terry enjoy less double teams.The average running back only get about 725 carries for a career so thats what I mean by him being a factor in helping the run game. He actually averages 6.6 yards per carry on 72 totes for his career. He also averaged about 57 yards a game receiving which would have easily been enough for 2nd in that category in Washington last year. I have a felling that number climbs a bit, especially with Logan Thomas likely to steal attention away from the outside after having a break out season.
On defense we saw local born and raised Ronald Darby take a deal in Denver that Washington simply couldn’t match. Darby played opposite of Kendall Fuller last year on a one year deal. Bit of a mixed bag as he might give you two interceptions or get beat on two double moves on a given week. Still a solid man coverage corner had left the building to pursue a big payday. I can’t blame him honestly because careers are short. What to do, what to do… hmm… ahh yes, Ive got it!!! They went out and signed the highest ranked corner in free agency in William Jackson III. Not exactly known for being confused with Ed Reed, he’s a very physical man to man corner and not afraid to come up and help make a tackle in the run game. That’s right Deione, he’s not making as many business decisions as you did! In less than 24 hours after losing a starter in Darby they were able to replace him with yet another better player for less money at the position. Sure seems to me that an area of strength on the team that is the Capital Defense, just got a little bit stronger.
Placing the franchise tag on all pro right guard Brandon Scherff was necessary. The have until June 15th I believe to get something long term done with him before he’d have to play out the season on the tag. He’s a top five player at guard in the NFL and he allows the team to not have to scramble for randoz on the free agent wire, likely overpaying in the process. Just this morning the team announced the resigning of Danny Johnson. Johnson is the primary kick returner along with Isaiah Wright and plays part time in dime, quarter, and dollar packages in the secondary as the 4th or 5th corner. They also tendered big bodied wide out Cam Sims. I still think they should bring in Gardner Minshew as a guy to throw in to the baby pool of Ryan Fitxpatrick’s school of quarterbacking, and how cool would the marketing potential be between Minshew and Fitzmagic? Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen are also no dummies either but Gardner would be the icing on the mediocre but awesome quarterback fruitcake bonanza. Try to get Ryan Kerrigan to resign and stay home. He wanted starter money but it doesn’t look like his door has been kicked down yet. A little over the veteran minimum with some heavy incentives might get it done. Fabian Moreau is another one I’d like to see them keep. He’s been pretty solid and if the price is right, get him back in there.
Last but not least the draft. I’d be looking real hard at Christian Darrisaw from Virginia Tech among other linemen and some of these outstanding linebackers that could be available. Wouldn’t hurt to get a safety as well. Kamren Curl did about as good as any 7th round safety could and Landon Collins is pricey and coming off a major injury. Wouldn’t hurt to add a guy in a mid to late round like Oregon’s Brady Breeze or so. Another guy I love in the middle rounds is Oklahoma State Cowboy running back, Chuba Hubbard. He’s big and powerful and would easily be the banger in the backfield for Washington and can also give you the home run from time to time. If they bring him in they can cut Lamar Miller the next day.
Cant wait to see what they do! It’s A Football World, we’re all just passing through.
feature photo: NBC Sports