After a team name change and a new head coach, the Washington Football Team is looking to have a change of fortune on the field as well. Bill Callahan coached Washington for the final 11 games of the 2019 season after Jay Gruden was fired following an 0-5 start to the year.
Ron Rivera, whom the Carolina Panthers fired after beginning the season 5-7 in 2019, takes over as the head coach for Washington. Waiting for him in Washington was the second overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. Washington selected DE Chase Young, who entered the season as the clear favorite for the Defensive Rookie of the Year Award.
With Joe Burrow going first overall, the Washington Football Team easily knew who to take. Young already has an impressive trophy case after being named to the Big Ten 2010s All-Decade team in addition to winning the 2020 Big Ten Male Athlete of the Year. The rookie defensive end has already tabulated a league-leading 2.5 sacks to go along with a forced fumble through two weeks.
Meanwhile, at the quarterback position, Dwayne Haskins Jr., a First Team All-Big Ten selection in 2018, has not been very accurate to begin the 2020 season. The No. 15 overall pick in 2019 threw for 4,831 yards and 50 touchdowns with a 70 percent completion rate at Ohio State in 2018. He enters his second season after completing 59 percent of his passes for seven touchdowns and seven interceptions in his rookie year. His record as a starter last year for the NFL’s worst offense was 2-5, which is better than the 1-7 record for former starting QB Case Keenum, who is now backing up Baker Mayfield in Cleveland.
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2020 Washington Draft Picks
Chase Young, DE (Ohio State)
Antonio Gibson, WR (Memphis)
Saahdiq Charles, OT (LSU)
Antonio Gandy-Golden, WR (Liberty)
Keith Ismael, C (San Diego State)
Khaleke Hudson, LB (Michigan)
Kamren Curl, S (Arkansas)
James Smith-Williams, DE (North Carolina)
Notable Other New Faces for Washington
Kyle Allen, QB
Peyton Barber, RB
J.D. McKissic, RB
Dontrelle Inman, WR
Logan Thomas, TE
Cornelius Lucas, OT
David Sharpe, OT
Wes Schweitzer, OG
Thomas Davis Sr., LB
Kevin Pierre-Louis, LB
Ronald Darby, CB
Kendall Fuller, CB
Brett Maher, K (practice squad)
Notable Washington Players in New Places
Case Keenum, QB – Cleveland Browns
Colt McCoy, QB – New York Giants
Adrian Peterson, RB – Detroit Lions
Chris Thompson, RB – Jacksonville Jaguars
Derrius Guice, RB – released
Josh Ferguson, RB – released
Michael Burton, FB – New Orleans Saints
Trey Quinn, WR – Jacksonville Jaguars
Paul Richardson, WR – released
Trent Williams, OT – San Francisco 49ers
Donald Penn, OT – released
Treyvon Hester, DE – released
Josh Norman, CB – Buffalo Bills
Quinton Dunbar, CB – Seattle Seahawks
Notable Washington Players on the Injury Report
Steven Sims Jr., WR – questionable for Week 3 with a toe injury
Kelvin Harmon, WR – placed on the injured reserve/non-football injury list with a knee injury; will miss 2020 season
Jordan Veasy, WR – placed on injured reserve for an undisclosed reason; expected to return for Week 4
Thaddeus Moss, TE – placed on injured reserve with an undisclosed reason
Saahdiq Charles, OT – questionable for Week 3 with a thigh injury
Morgan Moses, OT – questionable for Week 3 with a hip injury
Brandon Scherff, OG – placed on injured reserve with a knee injury; expected to return for Week 6
Michael Liedtke, OG – placed on injured reserve for an undisclosed reason; expected to return for Week 4
Reuben Foster, OLB – placed on injured reserve with a knee injury; expected to return for Week 4
Cole Holcomb, LB – questionable for Week 3 with a knee injury
Washington Who Have Opted Out of 2020 NFL Season
Josh Harvey-Clemons, LB
Caleb Brantley, DL
Washington Offense Predictions
Dwayne Haskins Jr. is looking to show that he can be a long-time starting quarterback in the NFL. He is hoping to find strong connections with his pass-catchers. Also, he needs his offensive line to work its magic again this year. The Washington Football Team surprised the NFL with an above-average offensive line last year even though the offensive points and yardage were lacking. However, the offensive line, which has allowed seven sacks in two games, is not expected to perform as well in 2020.
Washington Running Backs: Can Antonio Gibson Be a Viable Starter at the Position for All of 2020?
Haskins thanked former Washington running back Adrian Peterson for his time with the Washington Football Team. He signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Lions after Washington released him. Peterson almost ran for 900 yards on the ground last year on 211 carries.
The 4.3 yards per attempt were impressive for the 35-year-old, as he led the majority of rushing categories. Washington also released Derrius Guice, who played just five games in 2019 due to a sprained MCL, after he had off-the-field issues. Chris Thompson, who finished with the team’s second-most receptions and receiving yards in 2019, is now in Jacksonville.
With a new set of running backs on the roster, Rivera has chosen to go with rookie Antonio Gibson. While he only played 26 percent of the offensive snaps in Week 1’s victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, he received 13 carries and two targets in Week 2’s loss to the Arizona Cardinals. His 14 touches turned into 56 yards from scrimmage and a touchdown. It appears that Rivera will have Gibson be the lead back for the majority of 2020, but there will be competitors for his job like J.D. McKissic and red zone threat Peyton Barber.
Washington Wide Receivers: Will Terry McLaurin Crack 1,000 Receiving Yards in His Second NFL Season?
Terry McLaurin should be bringing in the most receptions of any wide receiver this season. Through two games, he has 12 receptions on 17 targets for 186 yards and a touchdown. McLaurin, the No. 76 overall selection in the 2019 draft, caught 58 balls for 919 yards and seven touchdowns last year.
With Kelvin Harmon out for the season with a torn ACL and Paul Richardson no longer on the team, Steven Sims Jr. will have to step up. He is the second-best wide receiver in terms of receptions (six) and yards (103) through two games. The third wide receiver on the depth chart this season should be Dontrelle Inman (10 targets, four receptions, and 38 receiving yards).
Washington Tight Ends: Can Logan Thomas Finish the Season as the Team’s Second-Best Pass-Catcher?
Just two players on the Washington Football Team have receiving touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season: Terry McLaurin and tight end Logan Thomas, the No. 120 pick in the 2014 draft.
Thomas had his first career double-digit reception season in 2018 with the Bills and first 100-yard season last year with the Lions. In just two games, Thomas is ready to set career highs by October 2020. He has amassed 17 targets, tied for most on the team, to go along with eight receptions, 63 receiving yards, and a six-yard touchdown.
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Washington Defense Predictions
In just two games, the Washington defense has three interceptions and three forced fumbles. They are also in the top 10 in points and yards allowed per drive. Besides, the team’s 11 sacks in 2020 lead the NFL. Chase Young is tied with T.J. Watt for the lead in sacks through two weeks. If Young can lead the NFL in sacks, he will be the surefire Defensive Rookie of the Year.
After having 1.5 sacks and a forced fumble in the victory against the Eagles, Young went for two tackles for loss, including a sack, in Week 2. Young also played a few special teams snaps in Washington’s opening game of the season.
He played 53 defensive snaps (78 percent) and three special teams snaps (nine percent) in Week 1, and he then played 55 defensive snaps (71 percent) and zero special teams snaps in Week 2. Young is the player to watch on the Washington defense in 2020.
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Washington Special Teams Predictions
Dustin Hopkins has spent the majority of his NFL career in Washington after the Bills selected him in the sixth round of the 2013 draft. After a groin injury ended his 2013 season, he joined the New Orleans Saints practice squad for 2014, and he found a home with the Washington Football Team in 2015. Hopkins, who turns 30 years old on October 1, has yet to have a field goal percentage better than 90 percent in his time in the league.
In Hopkins’ first year as the Washington kicker, he missed just one extra point and three field goals. After a couple of down years, which included a partially torn hip muscle in 2017, Hopkins bounced back to have a career-best 89.7 field goal percentage. Last year, he was good on 83.3 percent of his field goals. In hopes of a new career-high in 2020, Hopkins has made three of his first four field goals. He also has touchbacks on an impressive nine of his first 10 kickoffs.
Washington Head Coach Predictions
Heading into 2020, Ron Rivera’s career record was 76-63-1, which accounts for his nine-year tenure in Carolina. He made the Super Bowl with the 2015 Panthers, who finished the regular season with a tremendous 15-1 record. Offensive coordinator Scott Turner, who joined the Panthers in 2018, moves from Carolina to Washington with Rivera, as they hope to figure out how to make Haskins into a top-10 quarterback.
On the defensive side, Jack Del Rio is back in the NFL after a two-year hiatus. He was last seen as the Oakland Raiders head coach, where he put up 12 wins in 2016, but did not win in the postseason. Del Rio’s record with Oakland was 25-23, but the defense was never better than 20th in points allowed. Del Rio looks to have a better defense in Washington.
Washington Predictions for Week 3
Washington opened as a 5.5-point underdog for Sunday’s 1:00 pm eastern contest at Cleveland, but the line has jumped to a touchdown in favor of the Browns. QB Baker Mayfield and company had two very different games to open the season, so no one knows which Browns team will show up on Sunday.
While the offense has been inconsistent, it does not seem likely that old friend Case Keenum will get into the game. Unfortunately for Washington, it will be a tough test for Young and company on defense. With running backs Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt, wide receivers Odell Beckham Jr. and Jarvis Landry, and tight ends Austin Hooper and David Njoku; it will not be easy to cover Cleveland’s offensive unit. Washington is somewhat of a risky bet in this contest, but there could be value for bettors if the line increases above seven points.
Washington Predictions for 2020 Season
In 2019, the Washington Football Team was a double-digit underdog in eight contests. However, Washington should not be a massive underdog in as many games this season. In Week 1 last year at Philadelphia, Washington fell to the Eagles, 32-27, but covered the 10.5-point spread.
Washington also covered the spread in Week 1 this season against the visiting Eagles (-5.5), as Washington won, 27-17. Washington did not cover the Week 2 spread though, as the Cardinals (-7.5) were victorious, 30-15.
The 2020 over/under for Washington was just five wins at the beginning of the season, so bettors who took the over for Rivera’s squad were very excited to see the victory to open the season. Washington’s Super Bowl futures odds heading into Week 3 are +12000, which ranks as eighth from the bottom in the league. There does not seem to be much value at this point for Washington to win the Super Bowl or the division (+1200).
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