As the 2020 season is now in the rear view mirror, it is time to evaluate each position and see what the team needs in the future. The team had a successful season, however there are places where this team can upgrade to become a Super Bowl contender. So I will do a position by position analysis and early prediction of who will be on the roster next season. Today I will start with the quarterback position.
The carousel that has been the Washington quarterback position unfortunately continued in 2020. Dwayne Haskins was given the keys to the team and played himself to the bench and finally to his release. Kyle Allen was the backup and got a few starts before suffering a broken leg. Alex Smith completed the most amazing comeback but his body starting failing near the end of the year. And Taylor Heinicke went from college student to folk hero in starting the first playoff game in 5 years for the team.
- Dwayne Haskins- After finishing the 2019 season as a starter, Haskins had shown potential to be a quality NFL starter. In the offseason Coach Rivera was initially hesitant but finally named Haskins the starter. Haskins seemed to put in the offseason work and came into camp in great shape and as a result, Haskins was named a captain and things seem to be trending up. After a week 1 come from behind victory over the Philadelphia Eagles, things went down hill. After a loss to the Cleveland Browns coach Rivera questioned his play and work ethic. After a better but non impressive performance the next week versus the Baltimore Ravens, Rivera benched Haskins and said his preparation had to improve. Relegated to third string however, through attrition Haskins was given a second chance. And that went even worse. Throw in his off the field episode and Haskins was released after week 16. Haskins finished the season with the following stats: 148 for 241 (61.1%), 1,439 yards, five touchdowns and seven interceptions in seven games. Haskins of course is no longer on the roster.
- Kyle Allen- The next quarterback up for Washington was Kyle Allen. Allen came from Carolina with Rivera and Turner and knew the offensive system. In his first start Allen was injured after scoring a touchdown and the team fell apart against the Los Angelos Rams. In his return the following week, the team lost a close game to the Giants then blew out the Cowboys. After a bye week and a rematch with the Giants Allen suffered a season ending broken leg. Allen’s mobility helped the offense and he obviously knew the system, however Allen is smaller in stature and his arm is not the strongest. Allen is well liked and trusted by Rivera and should be on the team next season. Final Stats: 60 for 87 (69%), 610 yards, four touchdowns and one interception in four games.
- Alex Smith- After his brutal 2018 broken leg and multiple surgeries, no one outside of Alex Smith never thought he would ever play football again. When Smith showed work out videos it was encouraging but no one thought he would be cleared to play. Smith was cleared and made the opening day roster as the 3rd string quarterback. When Haskins was benched Smith was made the number 2 quarterback, and he only had to wait a quarter to play again. Smith completed his first pass and then was sacked by Aaron Donald in probably the scariest tackle we have seen. But Smith preserved and became the emotional leader of this team as they made a run to the NFC East title. However Smith’s body started to fail him with a calf injury to the injured leg that wouldn’t go away. Smith’s stats were not great at all but he kept the team in position to win. His professionalism, work ethic, and drive led the team this season and his record was 5-1 as the starter. However I think his body can’t give anymore to the sport. It will be Smith’s choice to stay or retire but if he wants to play one more year Washington will keep him. Final Stats: 168 for 252 (66.7%), 1,582 yards, 6 touchdowns and 8 interceptions in 8 games.
- Taylor Heinicke- If I did a survey at the beginning of the season, not many WFT fans would have known who Heinicke was (me included.) However Heinicke, who had gone back to college after being and XFL backup QB role until the league folded, was signed as a COVID emergency quarterback. With Alex Smith’s calf injury and Steven Montez’s lack of NFL action, Heinicke emerged as the backup QB. After a horrible performance from Haskins in the game against the Carolina Panthers, Heinicke came in and almost brought the team back to win. While Smith came back to play and defeat the Eagles to clinch the division, the least likely person started the playoff game against Tampa Bay. Heinicke had a performance for the ages and inspired a team and fanbase. Now let’s be realistic, Heinicke should be on a NFL roster, but as a backup. I would invite him back to be a backup next season. Final Stats (Regular Season and Playoffs): 38 for 63 (60.3%), 443 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
- Steven Montez- Still has not taken a snap in an NFL game and with no preseason games either Montez remains an unknown. He will be a practice squad candidate next year.
Priority number one for Washington is finding a viable starting quarterback. There are two ways of attacking this: draft or free agency. With Washington picking 19th, there may not be a sure fire starting quarterback available there. Also I don’t see Washington making a major push to move up to draft one. I think that Washington will sign a veteran quarterback and use the draft to continue to build the roster. Free Agents quarterbacks will be available and names will be flying around from: Dashaun Watson, Dak Prescott, Matt Stafford, Matt Ryan, Cam Newton, Marcus Mariota, Jameis Winston, Ryan Fitzpatrick and others. I feel like one of these guys will be Washington’s opening day starter in 2021. Rivera likes more mobile quarterbacks and probably won’t trade too many picks away for it either.
- Haskins- Released
- Allen- Retained Backup
- Smith- Retire
- Heinicke- Retained Backup
- Montez- Practice Squad, released