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Can Ron Rivera Lead Washington in the Right Direction?

The biggest offseason question surrounding this team was the name change. In the 2020 season, the Washington Redskins will now go by the Washington Football Team. The Washington Football Team is a temporary name for the 2020 season and the team will look to change it permanently after the season. 

Washington’s offseason was a major success. They arguably got the best player in the draft, Chase Young and acquired two prominent cornerbacks in Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby. However, the loss of Trent Williams will hurt tremendously. Can Washington’s new coach, Ron Rivera, lead Washington in the right direction? 

Draft:

Round 1(#2): Chase Young (DE) Ohio State

Round 3(#66): Antonio Gibson (WR/RB) Memphis

Round 4(#108): Saahdiq Charles (OT) LSU

Round 4(#142): Antonio Gandy-Golden (WR) Liberty

Round 5(#156): Keith Ismael (C) San Diego State

Round 5(#162): Khaleke Hudson (LB) Michigan

Round 7(#216): Kamren Curl (S) Arkansas

Round 7(#229): James Smith-Williams (DE) NC State

Draft Grade: B+

Draft Description

Was any defensive player better last year in college than Chase Young? At 6-foot-5 and 264 pounds, Young is a force to be reckoned with. With the second overall pick, Washington was certainly taking Young. Last season alone, Young totaled 16.5 sacks, 46 tackles (21 for loss) and seven forced fumbles. His 16.5 sacks and seven forced fumbles ranked first in all of FBS.

Can Ron Rivera lead Washington in the right direction
Image Courtesy of Sports Illustrated

In his three year career at Ohio State, Young had 30.5 sacks which ranks second all-time at Ohio State. He is behind long time great and current Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel, who had 36 sacks in four years at Ohio State. Young is an extremely talented player and joins a skilled front seven. Young is the favorite to win defensive rookie of the year. 

With the 66th pick, Washington selected wide receiver, Antonio Gibson. At Memphis, Gibson caught 38 passes for 738 yards and eight touchdowns. Although they selected Gibson as a wide receiver, he will transition to the running back position for Washington. 

The reason Washington will make that switch to running back is due to Gibson’s speed and agility at the position. As a ball career last season, Gibson averaged 11.2 yards per carry. He rushed for 369 yards with four touchdowns on 33 attempts. Washington gets a guy who has excellent power and speed. At 6-foot, Gibson ran a 4.39 40 yard dash time which ranked seventh at the combine in 2020. Gibson will be a solid addition for Washington in 2020 especially after Derrius Guice was released and Adrian Peterson is not as smooth as he once was.

Key Additions

For a team that finished last in passing touchdowns against, last in third-down conversions against and 18th in passing yards against, Washington desperately needed cornerback and safety help. They did just that by acquiring Kendall Fuller and Ronald Darby. 

Image Courtesy of NBC Sports Washington

After starting his career with Washington, Fuller is now back after spending two seasons with Kansas City. Although Fuller wasn’t as productive last season due to thumb surgery, this 25-year-old cornerback hasn’t developed fully yet. Fuller had 12 passes deflected and 10 passes deflected in 2017 and 2018. Hopefully, for Fuller, he gets back to producing those numbers for Washington. 

Even though Darby is not a top cornerback in the league and has battled injuries his whole career, Darby can perform at the position. He once had 21 passes deflected his rookie season in Buffalo and contributed another 11 last season. At 5-foot-11, Darby is a bit undersized but has great ball instincts. Although Darby missed five games due to injury, he still ranked 14th in pass breakups (9) and 11th in target separation (0.82). Darby can battle but will have his hands full going up against Amari Cooper/Michael Gallup, Alshon Jeffrey and Sterling Shepard.

Other Key Additions: Thomas Davis Sr. (MLB), Sean Davis (S), Cody Latimer (WR) and Ron Rivera (Head Coach)

Key Losses

The most significant loss for Washington was Trent Williams. Williams was traded to San Francisco for a 2020 fifth-round pick and a 2021 third-round pick. A third and a fifth-round pick seem low for a guy who has made the top 100 list in seven out of his nine years in the league.

Can Ron Rivera lead Washington in the right direction
Image Courtesy of Getty Images

“On behalf of my client Trent Williams and with the permission of the Washington Redskins I sought trade opportunities for the Redskins to trade Trent,” said Vince Taylor, Williams agent after Washington and Williams couldn’t come to an agreement on a new deal.

Excluding his holdout in 2019, Williams has made a total of seven pro bowls and is considered one of the best left tackles in the game. Williams comes in at 6-foot-5 and has only committed 10 penalties once in his nine-year career. This loss is unquestionably hurtful for Washington. 

Other Key losses: Josh Norman (CB), Quinton Dunbar (CB), Chris Thompson (RB), Ereck Flowers (G) and Vernon Davis (Retired)

Record Prediction

3-13

Unfortunately for Rivera, Washington does not have the pieces to be a scary team in 2020. Ron Rivera will lead Washington in the right direction, however not quite yet. Having a great coach doesn’t immediately correlate to a team’s success, however, it absolutely helps. This is not the year for Washington to make a push just yet. Second-year starters Dwayne Haskins and Terry McLaurin are still developing. However, watch out for this team to make a playoff push in a couple of years with a great coach and a fully developed quarterback. 

 

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