ASHBURN, Va. -- Our so-far impression of the WFT plan to be better in 2021? We think they intend on striking aggressively as an offensive unit in Washington.
Will the plan be successful? Nobody knows for sure, but it won't be because of a lack of trying.
As noted above, Scott Turner and Ron Rivera didn't bring in Curtis Samuel and Dyami Brown to be underused weapons tucked into a conservative mindset.
They absolutely will be more aggressive because of those two, combined with Terry McLaurin … plus Ryan Fitzpatrick not only has a more consistent arm than any of the four quarterbacks that played for Washington last year - he's also smart and much more mobile than some would think.
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That latter aspect allows an offense to extend plays as coverage breaks down.
The numbers tell one side of the story. Fitzpatrick was a combined 30-of-69 on passes that traveled 20 or more yards over the last two years, per ESPN and John Keim.
Washington did not have much success (12-44) on passes of 20+ yards with Dwayne Haskins and Alex Smith.
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The success ratios represent a fairly wide disparity.
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More importantly, there's this: It was clear in the last portion of the season that the Washington horizontal passing attack would not work at all until they tried to stretch the field.
Whether they were successful or not with the attempt was less important than the overall impact. We can think of several games (Cincinnati, Pittsburgh and Dallas, specifically) where this happened.
The attempt to go intermediate to deep early loosens up the box for the running game and spreads out the defenders a bit more, sometimes resulting in off-man cushion coverage or two deep safeties, which helps the short, underneath passing game.
With a much better QB situation this year, the WFT should be able to hammer this advantage.
It's not only about making big plays, it's also about allowing the smaller plays to have a chance by sending a message. If a team can make both work, it can have an explosive offense.
If a team doesn’t try to loosen up the defense in this way, it handicaps itself. And this year? With the weapons coordinator Turner now has, the 2021 offense should look dramatically different - with “drama” that can stage quite a show.