State of the (Washington) Nation

By: Thomas Capo
Posted: April 18, 2020

Washington – New coach, new culture?

Result: Missed Playoffs

2019 Regular season record: 3-13

2019 Scoring Offensive Rank: 32nd 16.6 PPG 

2019 Scoring Defensive Rank: 27th 27.2PPG

2020 Draft First Round Pick: 2

Coach: Ron Rivera 

The Offseason Scenario:

2019 didn’t go as planned for Washington, as coach Jay Gruden got canned after a brutal 0-5 stretch to start the season.  It’s been a long time coming in the nation’s capital, as the team had only two winning seasons under Gruden, and three in the last decade. QB Case Keenum suffered multiple injuries and Dwayne Haskins struggled mightily early before getting his feet under him late in the season.  From the ground up, this organization needs a major culture shift, and new coach Ron Rivera has taken some early steps to move things in the right direction.  

Free Agent Frenzy:

Washington has money to spend, currently holding the fifth-most cap room in the league with just under $24 million left, per  But they’ve made some savvy moves already.

First and foremost, Rivera brought in a trusted defensive player to lead the locker room. Veteran LB Thomas Davis played in Carolina for almost a decade under Riverboat Ron, and he’ll know how to get the younger players onto Rivera’s agenda quickly.  That won’t be the only reunion on the defensive side, as Washington also brought back CB/S Kendall Fuller after a few years in Kansas City. His versatility will come in handy as they reconfigure a secondary and bring in speedy but injury-prone CB Ronald Darby who can make plays, when he’s available. 

Rivera also brought over the QB that emerged when Cam Newton’s season went south in Carolina, third-year signal caller Kyle Allen, who surprised everyone by winning five of his first six starts, including wins over playoff-bound Houston and Tennessee. He struggled some with ball control, throwing 16 interceptions with 13 fumbles, but was generally consistent and made more than a few good choices in the pocket for an inexperienced young QB.  There’s no doubt that Rivera is bringing him in to push Dwayne Haskins and see who comes out on top in the preseason.  

Seriously Premature Draft Hunches

There’s not much doubt here.  It’s almost unanimous that (assuming Joe Burrow’s name is called by the Bengals) Washington will take Ohio State’s DE Chase Young with the number two pick. 

I see no reason to go away from this logic.

Chase Young is an absolutely dominant force, recording 16.5 sacks for the Buckeyes in 2019, but the crazy thing is that he’s got serious upside.  Young relies on his superior athleticism and a few trusted moves to get opposing quarterbacks in his sights. He’s also a monster in run coverage, teams found it almost impossible to get around the edge on him, and he’s a very steady one on one tackler despite being having average field vision and play diagnosing ability.  If he can get coached up in those areas and add a few new moves, Young has the potential to become an all-time great defensive player. Even in his current raw state, he’s sure to improve Washington’s defense, which ranked in the bottom five last season.  

For more thoughts and opinions from Tom, check out his author page.

Image Source: AP Images

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