NFL Preview Series: Washington’s Football Team’s Culture Change & New Beginnings (9-6-20)

By: Darrell Owens

Headline Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

Darrell Owens-LMS Network Founder, Sports Director & Columnist

Here in the year 2020, Culture Change has been a trademark for the year. From COVID-19 to social injustice issues, we all have had to adjust our way of life. Cultural change has also affected the NFL especially the Team formerly known as the Washington Redskins. There has been a debate over the years on the use of the “Redskins” name. The issue with the name in some people considered it a racial slur towards Native Americans, but to others, it was a way to honor Native Americans. No matter how you feel about the name, Washington owner Daniel Snyder made a massive decision to change the team’s name and retire the “Redskins” name. Washington announced that the name change process will take between 12-16 months, so hopefully next season we will have a new name for the Washington Football Team. Washington has had to deal with scandal as well during the culture change. Daniel Snyder and some members of his inner circle have been accused of sexual harassment and verbal abuse from former employees and some members of the media. 

Washington’s head coach Ron Rivera
Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

Despite having these issues, Washington still has to get ready for the 2020 season. Last season, Washington went through a 3-13 season. During that process, head coach Jay Gruden was fired after a Week 5 loss to New England, and the team went through multiple QB changes and injuries throughout the season. With that 3-13 record, would task former Panthers Head Coach Ron Rivera as the new head coach. Rivera brings experience and tough leadership to a team that desperately needs a boost in that area. Rivera toughness has shined bright during this time of change for the organization. Rivera has led the effort to find a new name for the team and has shown he is all about the culture change. Rivera made the tough decision to release Derrius Guice after a domestic violence arrest earlier this summer and recently released future Hall of Famer Adrian Peterson in favor of his younger and talent running backs. Rivera leadership will prove to be crucial this season.

Washington’s DE #99 Chase Young
Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

Finishing with the 2nd worst record in football can sometimes have its perks, Washington would also lock up the #2 pick in the 2020 NFL Draft and would select Ohio State stud, Defensive End Chase Young. Young’s pass rush ability is explosive and with the addition of his to the defensive line alongside: Jonathan Allen, Montez Sweat, Matt Ioannidis, DaRon Payne & of course Ryan Kerrigan Washington’s defensive could be dangerous. Two major moves that could prove to be the key to this defense, the signings of Kendall Fuller & Thomas Davis. Fuller is coming off a Super Bowl-winning year with the Kansas City Chiefs and Thomas Davis will provide great leadership in the middle of that defense and can help bring a player like Cole Holcomb along. If new defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio can get this talent group on the same page watch out NFL.

#7 Dwayne Haskins JR.& 11 Alex Smith Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

Now the offense side of the ball is a group that has a major upside. We start with the man under center…Dwayne Haskins Jr.  Haskins enters his Sophomore season as the starter in DC. At the end of the 2019 season,  Haskins put up solid numbers in his last 2 games and had a QBR over 100 in both games. It also gave us a chance to take a glimpse of what Haskins can do when the team is on one accord. Haskins has his college teammate as his #1 receiver, Terry McLaurin. McLaurin had an impressive rookie season with 58 receptions, 919 yards & 7 touchdowns. Will year 2 prove to be another great season for McLaurin? Well, Haskins & McLaurin’s connection looks to be stronger than ever during training camp and That’s great news for Washington football fans. To round out Haskins receiving corps Yep Antonio Gandy-Golden the rookie from Liberty University and Steven Sims Jr who had a pretty solid season last year.

Washington’s RB #24 Antonio Gibson Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

 At running back, Washington seems to be handing the keys to 3rd round pick, Antonio Gibson out of Memphis. Gibson has a great training camp, great enough for the team to release Adrian Peterson, who led the team in rushing the past two years and has been a leader on the team. Three more names to watch out for in the running back room: Bryce Love, JD McKissic & Peyton Barber they should provide solid production for Washington this season. The offensive line will be something to watch as Geron Christian seems to be the starting left tackle, a position that has had struggles since Trent Williams last played there. Brandon Scherff, Morgan Moses, Chase Roullier & Wes Martin should round out the starting line, but watch out For recently acquired offensive tackle David Sharpe he could make a play to start. The tight end position will be interesting. According to the team, Logan Thomas has been Haskins’s favorite target during camp. The battle for the starter would be between Thomas and veteran Jeremy Sprinkle. 

Predictions: Washington Football Team 8-8 (2nd Place in NFC East)

#7 Dwayne Haskins and #99 Chase Young Photo Credit: Elijah Griffin Sr.-Washington Football Team/GriffinVision

I’ve had a change of heart over the last couple of days. Initially, I had Washington finishing in third place in the division, but the uncertainty of the Eagles quarterback position worries me. This Washington football team has tons of potential and I feel like Ron Rivera was just the right person to take over this team and move them along in the future. Despite being diagnosed with cancer, Ron Rivera has proven he’s ready to take this team to the next level. Haskins has put in amazing work in the off-season between trimming up his body and becoming a leader on the team. That paired with his great relationship with Terry McLaurin will turn some heads this season. Washington‘s rotation at running back will help them dearly. Rivera is known for having a solid running back system and has had some of the best running teams during his tenure in Carolina. As for the defense, I feel like they will be a top-five defense this season. The defensive line will be the anchor and will cause havoc on other teams. This will be a fun season to watch for the Washington Football Team and continue to watch the culture change unfold.