Football

Washington Football Team Starts Transition from Laughingstock to Relevance

Wow…where do we begin?

Lets start with the hiring of new Head Coach Ron Rivera, formerly of the Carolina Panthers.

Now, is Rivera one of the “cool” coaches with a super innovative offense? No.

But what he is and has always been, is a damn leader – a leader of men – which is something this franchise has lacked since the Joe Gibbs era.

Instead of going into a normal offseason as a new coach, the franchise had to deal with circumstances (some self-inflicted) that are vast and seemingly beyond measure.

From COVID-19 making the normal processes of a NFL offseason virtually non-existent, the franchise had to deal with issues off the field. A report by The Washington Post would reveal 17 women (15 who previously worked for the Washington Football Team and two reporters who covered the team) alleging sexual harassment and verbal abuse. If that wasn’t enough, ownership was pressured enough by the social climate of today of finally ridding the team of its racist surname.

So, instead of just learning and trying to teach this very young roster the “Rivera Way”, questions persisted non-stop that had nothing to do with the product on the field, which is very discouraging considering the constraints of the offseason.

Yet, excuses are like belly buttons: everyone has one and they ain’t worth nothin’ so once the ball is kicked off this Sunday vs the Eagles, none of that will matter, the product will.

Chase Young #99 in training camp practice

And what will the product look like? For starters, this team will have to be led with the position that has the most sheer talent – the defensive line. Adding 1st-round pass rusher and DMV native Chase Young from THE Ohio State to an already talented defensive line gives Washington a real chance to set the tone in the trenches this year. Added to a talented yet underachieving front with Jonathan Allen, Da’Ron Payne, Montez Sweat, Ryan Kerrigan, and Matt Ioannidis, should be a catalyst for Washington taking a big step forward on that side of the ball. The front four rotation along with the linebackers in our new 4-3 set should put plenty of pressure on opposing quarterbacks but if the unit can not stop the run (31st in the league in rush yards allowed in 2019), its all going to be for naught as teams will just gut the team slowly and painfully. Also, with a team that is so young and inexperienced on the offensive end, it is paramount to slow down the run, get the opposing offense off the field and give our offense some short fields to work from instead of having to force the team to drive 80+ yards on the majority of the time.

I, personally, don’t expect big things from Washington’s offense, but it will be fun to watch quarterback Dwayne Haskins continue to develop in a system where the head coach actually wants you to succeed.

Funny how a little positive reinforcement can help a growing kid.

Haskins has an ascending superstar in Terry McLaurin to distribute the ball to and add the team’s young, exciting skill group―which includes rookie running back Antonio Gibson, Bryce Love, Antonio Gandy-Golden, the other breakout rookie wideout from last season, Steven Sims. The offensive line is a work-in-progress and the tight ends are unproven. Its going to be alot to ask for from a young signal-caller but again, excuses are….

Having a true leader will pay dividends. Maybe not in 2020, but we will see the seeds of hard-nosed, disciplined football along with accountability and transparency which will be the building blocks of development out of mediocrity.

“Now thats WFT im talking about!”

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