Whats Next for The Washington Football Team?
After starting the season 2-7 Washington’s season looked like it was over. However, a run of form which saw them make the play-offs in an incredibly weak NFC East. Washington compiled 5 wins out of their last 7 including a postseason play in game in week 17. Further, Washington went on to play very well in their Wild Card match up against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in a 31-23 loss.
What makes Washington’s season even more impressive was the revolving door at the quarterback spot. Smith, Allen, Haskins and Heinicke all started games for Washington and did little to sell the front office or the fans that they were the starting quarterback for the future.
In spite of their limited offense Washington’s defense was able to keep them in games by playing at an elite level:
2nd in Total Defense – 304.6
2nd in Pass Defense – 191.8
T-13th in Run Defense – 112.8
4th in Points Allowed – 20.6
3rd in First Downs Allowed per Game – 18.1
4th in Red Zone Defense – 53.49%
7th in Turnovers - 23
5th in Sacks - 47
Whilst the entirety of Washington’s defense had a good season it’s fair to say it was the defensive line that catapulted them to an elite level:
- 50th in PFF Grade amongst Interior Defenders, 68.2
- 74.0 PFF Run Defense Grade
- 60.0 PFF Pass Rush Grade
- 3 Forced Fumbles
- 3 Sacks
- 7 Tackles for Loss
- 8 Quarterback Hits
- 15th in PFF Grade amongst Interior Defenders, 80.3
- 64.1 PFF Run Defense Grade
- 83.5 PFF Pass Rush Grade
- 0 Forced Fumbles
- 2 Sacks
- 3 Tackles for Loss
- 14 Quarterback Hits
- 6th in PFF Grade amongst Defensive Ends, 87.2
- 80.4 PFF Run Defense Grade
- 76.5 PFF Pass Rush Grade
- 4 Forced Fumbles
- 7.5 Sacks
- 10 Tackles for Loss
- 12 Quarterback Hits
- 12th in PFF Grade amongst Defensive Ends, 79.7
- 86.0 PFF Run Defense Grade
- 78.7 PFF Pass Rush Grade
- 2 Forced Fumbles
- 9 Sacks
- 12 Tackles for Loss
- 20 Quarterback Hits
- 81st in PFF Grade amongst Defensive Ends, 59.8
- 45.2 PFF Run Defense Grade
- 69.9 PFF Pass Rush Grade
- 0 Forced Fumbles
- 5.5 Sacks
- 5 Tackles for Loss
- 6 Quarterback Hits
Its due to Washington’s elite defensive line that the potential options for the future of the franchise expands…
Washington could double down on their defense and try to build a roster the same way the Seahawks did with the ‘Legion of Boom’, an all-time great defense and a quarterback on a rookie contract. Washington has the 19th pick in the 2021 draft. At that spot the top three quarterbacks will be long gone, and it would cost considerable capital to move up to draft one. Hence, Trey Lance or Mac Jones would be the quarterback options in play.
However, drafting a quarterback is always a risk and Washington could end up right back on the quarterback carousel in 2 year’s time.
Very similar to option one, Washington could likewise double down on their defense investing resources and draft capital in it whilst relying on a veteran game manager at quarterback. Alex Smith showed this is a viable option this season with Washington finishing 5-2 with the 36-year-old under center this season. Cheap options like Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Ryan Fitzpatrick will be available this offseason and would arguably provide a similar level of play to that of which Smith provided this season.
However, while these quarterbacks would make south of $10 million annually, you get what you pay for. None of the listed quarterbacks are realistically going to win you a Superbowl and are instead more of a stop gap until a prospect or veteran quarterback you love becomes available.
While for years defense has won championships in the modern era the paradigm is beginning to shift towards elite offenses. Hence, option 3 is acquiring a veteran franchise quarterback. Lower end options like Derek Carr and Jimmy Garoppolo are likely to become available via trade this offseason. The middle ground option is Matt Stafford as he and Detroit have come to a mutual understanding and the Lions will look to move him. The top tier acquisition would be Dak Prescott, whether that be via free agency or trade is yet to be known but contract negotiations have stalled in Dallas and Prescott could really push Washington in the right direction.
However, with this option the lower to middle tier quarterbacks would be looking at between $25-28 million annually, while Prescott is reportedly asking for the Deshaun Watson and Patrick Mahomes money, placing him at around $40 million annually. Further, Carr, Garoppolo and Stafford would all cost additionally compensation.
Additionally, it’s not as if the quarterback option they elect to go with will be stepping into a stale offense reduced of weapons and protection. Washington has some talented young weapons and an offensive line that can protect the quarterback:
- 28th in PFF Grade amongst Wide Receivers, 78.0
- 11th in Receiving Yards amongst Wide Receivers, 1,118
- 12.9 Yards per Catch
- 4 Touchdowns
- 11th in PFF Grade amongst Running Backs, 80.9
- 247 Receiving Yards
- 6.9 Yards per Catch
- 18th in Rushing yards amongst Running Backs, 795
- 24th in Yards per Attempt amongst Running Backs, 4.7
- T-6th in Rushing Touchdowns amongst Running Backs, 11
- 38th in PFF Grade amongst Tight Ends, 64.4
- 7th in Receiving Yards amongst Tight Ends, 670
- 9.3 Yards per Catch
- 6 Touchdowns
Chase Roullier, 6th in PFF Grade amongst Centers, 76.8
Wes Schweitzer, 18th in PFF Grade amongst Guards, 69.0
Brandon Scherff, 7th in PFF Grade amongst Guards, 84.1
Cornelius Lucas, 22nd in PFF Grade amongst Tackles, 78.3
Morgan Moses, 15th in PFF Grade amongst Tackles, 80.6
If I was deciding the future of Washington, I would enquire about both the 2nd and 3rdoverall picks initially and see how much it would cost to move up to select either Justin Fields or Zach Wilson.
In the case the draft capital and compensation required was too much I would offer a package of picks to the Detroit Lions in order to acquire Matt Stafford. Then with the 19thpick if Trey Lance was to fall id select him and have him learn behind Stafford.
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