Now, after seven video games, the turbulence has delivered a couple of essential classes.
Washington doesn’t know who its franchise quarterback is.
That is the season’s most vital revelation. In August, it appeared the group would spend 16 weeks testing and growing Haskins to find out whether or not he could possibly be the long-term resolution. However when Rivera benched him after Week 4, all the pieces reset. Now the group is left in a tough spot. Neither Kyle Allen nor Alex Smith is the longer term, and despite the fact that Rivera stated he nonetheless believes it’s potential for Haskins to work out with Washington, that appears unlikely.
It leaves the group with out an apparent reply on the sport’s most essential place. The win-now strategy may go away Washington out of vary to draft one of many consensus prime three school quarterbacks — Clemson’s Trevor Lawrence, Ohio State’s Justin Fields or North Dakota State’s Trey Lance — and the upcoming free agent class is skinny. The one starter-quality choices youthful than 30 are Dak Prescott and Jameis Winston, each of whom carry vital query marks.
Regardless of how Washington finishes this season, it has change into clear that discovering and growing the proper quarterback is the group’s most urgent process.
Cornerstone defenders are in place — with one concern.
Regardless of the protection’s underperformance early this season, the constructing blocks look nearly as good as marketed. That goes for younger, bookend go rushers Montez Sweat and Chase Younger, in addition to versatile cornerback Kendall Fuller, a prized free agent signing. The inside of the road has been sharp, led by Jonathan Allen and Daron Payne, and second-year linebacker Cole Holcomb flashed in his current return from a knee harm.
General, these gamers (with an help from the banged-up Dallas Cowboys offense) are fueling an upswing headed into the bye. The protection ranks seventh in defense-adjusted worth over common, based on Soccer Outsiders, and it’ll most likely be the explanation the group is aggressive this season. Whereas some short-term considerations stay — the continued vulnerability of linebackers in protection, the continual incapacity to forestall chunk performs — they pale compared to the long-term fear concerning the group’s unique cornerstone participant.
Security Landon Collins suffered an Achilles’ harm Sunday and was later positioned on injured reserve. He’s the protection’s highest-paid participant and a group captain. He struggled to begin this season, however for a unit looking for higher communication and continuity he was an essential piece. If, after an arduous restoration, he can ultimately return to his earlier degree of play, it could be an enormous increase to this rising protection.
The offense, even with out many stars, could possibly be okay below Kyle Allen.
After beginning this season as one of many worst offenses within the league, the unit has been improved previously two weeks. Allen has regarded higher than Haskins in his restricted motion, and within the first half towards Dallas on Sunday, with relative continuity in personnel and dealing with a disastrous protection, the unit appeared to function near its ceiling. Washington scored touchdowns on three of its first 5 full drives and narrowly missed a fourth.
This doesn’t imply the issues are gone. Rivera has stated the unit lacks weapons and gained’t present its true self till 2021, and he reiterated Sunday that “we’d like extra” items. This implies including impactful huge receivers alongside Terry McLaurin and seeing extra development from an inexperienced supporting solid, together with working again Antonio Gibson and tight finish Logan Thomas. The offensive line has been, by analytics and the attention check, one of many league’s weaker models.
The victory over the Cowboys is just not a assure of future success, however it at the very least confirmed what is perhaps potential. Washington ran the ball properly, threw vertically and used play-action successfully. The offense may not win many shootouts, however it flashed the potential of contributing to a win.
“I don’t know precisely what degree we’re on,” offensive coordinator Scott Turner stated Monday, “however I really feel just like the elevator goes up.”
Offensive line and security stay short- and long-term worries.
Begin with the secondary. Even earlier than Collins’s harm, Washington struggled to discover a appropriate associate for him at free security. The supposed resolution, Sean Davis, acquired virtually no first-team reps in coaching camp and was lower. An alternative choice, Troy Apke, was benched in Week 5. For now, the group will lean on profession special-teams ace Deshazor Everett at free security and rookie Kamren Curl at robust security, and Washington may additionally discover a midseason free agent signing or commerce, however the way forward for these spots is way from sure.
The offensive line has not blocked properly total, however it has additionally suffered from poor continuity (once more), quarterback adjustments (once more) and inexperience on the left aspect. The unit’s two greatest offseason additions, veteran guard Wes Schweitzer and rookie deal with Saahdiq Charles, have struggled with accidents.
Within the brief time period, the unit most likely will stay what it has been. Professional Bowl guard Brandon Scherff has returned, however the line misplaced left deal with Geron Christian Sr., at the very least for final week.
In the long run, questions stay, together with about whether or not to present Scherff an enormous contract following his third straight injury-plagued season and whether or not all this missed time will hamper the event of Charles, whom the group hopes will be its left deal with of the longer term. The aim is to assemble a whole and cohesive line, and at the very least compared to previous years, the group is making sluggish progress.
Washington actually may win the NFC East.
Regardless of how dangerous Washington may look in any given week, the division continues to abide by Murphy’s Legislation. This NFC East is the primary division in NFL historical past (excluding strike-shortened years) to be led by a group with fewer than three wins after Week 7, and at 2-5, Washington trails the first-place Philadelphia Eagles (2-4-1) by a half-game. Many statistical forecasts, together with these by Football Outsiders and ESPN, decide Philadelphia as the favourite to win the division (with a few 55 % likelihood) and peg Washington because the Eagles’ fundamental challenger (about 30 %).
Washington’s greatest likelihood to make up floor comes proper after the bye. It faces 4 groups — the New York Giants, Detroit Lions, Cincinnati Bengals and the Cowboys once more — which are a mixed 7-19-1, with a mixed level differential of minus-159. Philadelphia faces a barely harder schedule total, however it has been trending upward previously few weeks as quarterback Carson Wentz has improved his play. If neither Washington nor the Eagles can create separation over the subsequent two months, they match up in Week 17 in Philadelphia for what could possibly be a essential recreation.