Seahawks 2020 Opponent Breakdown: Washington
Though the process was delayed a bit compared to a normal year due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic, the NFL finally released official 2020 schedules in early May.
Set to travel more miles than any other team this season, the Seahawks will play out of conference games against the AFC East, non-divisional games against the NFC East, and six divisional games. In addition, they'll face two non-common opponents from the NFC North and NFC South.
With training camp looming, we will be dissecting each of Seattle's upcoming opponents over the next several weeks. Now mascot-less, the Washington Football Team will host the Seahawks in Landover looking to pull an upset and throw a wrench into the NFC West race in Week 15.
Washington Football Team
2019 Record: 3-13, Fourth in NFC East
Last Meeting with Seahawks: 17-14 win in 2017
Making his debut in a Seahawks uniform, Washington spoiled tackle Duane Brown's debut by narrowly winning an ugly game at CenturyLink Field. Seattle started the scoring when Bobby Wagner shot through untouched as a blitzer and sacked Kirk Cousins in the end zone for a safety midway through the first quarter. However, the Seahawks couldn't get on track offensively, as Russell Wilson threw a pick and Blair Walsh missed three field goals in the first half. Trailing 10-2 after three quarters, Wilson found Doug Baldwin and Luke Willson for fourth quarter touchdowns to briefly give Seattle a four-point lead. But just 35 seconds later, following two bombs from Cousins to Brian Quick and Josh Doctson that moved Washington to Seattle's goal line, Robert Kelley scored from a yard out to give the road team a stunning comeback win.
Season in Review: Starting the year with veteran quarterback Case Keenum under center, Washington lost five straight games to open the year while playing three different quarterbacks, leading to the dismissal of coach Jay Gruden. He was replaced by line coach Bill Callahan, who turned to rookie Dwayne Haskins as the starter for the rest of the season. The situation didn't improve much in the win-loss column, as Washington fell to 1-9 before winning back-to-back games against Detroit and Carolina in Week 12 and Week 13. Though the team was far more competitive down the stretch, they ended a dismal campaign with four straight losses to secure the No. 2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
Key Additions: WR Cody Latimer, LB Thomas Davis, CB Ronald Darby
After hiring Ron Rivera as coach, Washington didn't make many splashy moves during free agency. On offense, Latimer was signed away from the division rival Giants, but his status remains in limbo after he was arrested in May for second-degree assault and illegal discharge of a firearm. A long-time starter for Rivera with the Panthers, Davis will provide a veteran presence for Washington's defense as he enters his 16th NFL season. In the secondary, Darby will aim to bounce back from two injury-marred seasons with the Eagles, as he tore his ACL in 2018 and landed on injured reserve last December with a hip injury.
Key Departures: LT Trent Williams, TE Jordan Reed, CB Quinton Dunbar
After sitting out the entire 2019 season due to an unrepairable rift with the organization stemming from a medical misdiagnosis, Williams finally was given clearance to seek a trade in March and the seven-time Pro Bowl selection was dealt to the 49ers during April's draft. Reed, who was released in February, remains unsigned after suffering his seventh documented concussion and missing the entire 2019 season in the league's concussion protocol. Dealt to the Seahawks for a fifth-round pick in March, Dunbar may not play a snap in 2020 after being charged with four counts of armed robbery and being placed on the commissioner's exempt list.
Notable 2020 Draft Picks: DE Chase Young, RB/WR Antonio Gibson, OT Saahdiq Charles
Taking advantage of a top-three draft choice, Washington landed a premier defensive end in Young, who recorded 16.5 sacks and earned unanimous All-American honors as junior at Ohio State. He should have a chance to start immediately and team up with 2019 first-round pick Montez Sweat to give the team a lethal tandem of edge rushers for years to come. Though raw, Gibson presents rare athletic traits and the ability to potentially play both running back and receiver at the next level. His game-changing speed could also make him a factor on special teams. Charles, who started for LSU's national championship team, will have a chance to carve out a starting role early on an overhauled offensive line.
Prognosis: Though the past couple of months have been anything but a picnic for Washington due to sexual harassment allegations and sponsors threatening to pull support without a name change, Washington has a lot of intriguing young pieces for Rivera to build a contender with. Assuming Haskins makes a significant jump under the tutelage of new offensive coordinator Scott Turner, the offensive line opens up big holes for Derrius Guice and Adrian Peterson, and Young immediately stars rushing off the edge, the team should be much more competitive than in 2019, though it may not yet translate to many victories just yet. At this stage of the season in the final month of action playing at home, Rivera's squad could be a pesky opponent for the Seahawks and present a challenging trap game with the playoffs only three weeks away.