To some, there isn't a straight-forward winner in the race for the NFC East entering the summer. Then again, maybe there shouldn't be after all four teams finished below .500 in 2020.
The Washington Football Team won five of its last seven games to claim the NFC East title. This offseason, WFT head coach Ron Rivera made sure that a 7-9 record wouldn't be the end goal for his second season.
With Washington's recent moves, the hope is they can repeat as division winners for the first time since 1992. According to ESPN's Louis Riddick, after the offseason Rivera and GM Martin Mayhew had, the NFC East is theirs for the taking.
Last season, four different quarterbacks took snaps on the way to a division win, but an early playoff loss against Tampa Bay. The plan is that veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick, who joined the squad in March, will the full-season option after proving he could still play with the Dolphins.
Rivera isn't allowing Fitzpatrick to simply waltz into the starting role — he'll have to earn it. Fellow WFT QBs Taylor Heinicke and Kyle Allen both are expected to push for reps in training camp before the second-year coach names a starter for Week 1 against the Los Angeles Chargers.
Quarterback play will decide the outcome of most teams, but Riddick also analyzed Washington's other acquisitions. Overall, he believes the offense is a piece or two away from being one of the conference's best for 2021.
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"The truth is this: they got players all over the place," Riddick said. "They got players at wide receiver, they got two good running backs. As long as the offensive tackles hold up on the offensive line, they're good to go."
WFT also added speedy weapon Curtis Samuel, who is expected to play a gadget role in Scott Turner's system. The team also potentially upgraded at left tackle with the addition of Charles Leno Jr. from the Bears.
In the 2021 NFL Draft, Washington added Texas offensive tackle Sam Comsi with the No. 51 pick and UNC's Dyami Brown at pick No. 82. The former Longhorn graded out with an 86.0 or higher in both pass- and run-blocking during his final season on the Forty Acres.
Brown, who was known as a vertical presence, recorded over 1,000 yards in his final two seasons and average 20 yards per catch during that same span.
Riddick didn't even have to mention the defense since its been the team's bread and butter. One season after a successful campaign from Montez Sweat, Kam Curl and Chase Young, the young core only got better in the offseason.
William Jackson III solidifies an improved secondary, as should third-round pick Benjamin St-Juste. First-round pick Jamin Davis will be a do-it-all linebacker up the middle for Jack Del Rio's base front.
Add in the return of Landon Collins and the addition of Bobby McCain, and can one find the hole on Washington's defense? If the offense holds, the predictions could too.
"Washington is for real, as much as people maybe don't want to admit that," Riddick said.
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