The NFC East division has been at the bottom of the NFL for years. The 2020 season finally exposed the NFC East for what it is.
All of the teams in the division finished with losing records. The Washington Football Team made it out alive and made the playoffs with a 7-9 record. Tom Brady & the Tampa Bay Buccaneers eliminated them in Round 1.
Though all four teams looked terrible this past season, all have the chance of being better next year with a few additions. Let’s evaluate each team properly.
Washington Football Team (7-9)
The Washington Football Team faced adversity in 2020 with lots of changes. The team name changed, Ron Rivera became the new coach, and nobody was sure about Alex Smith‘s future as a veteran NFL quarterback.
In August of 2020, Rivera was diagnosed with squamous cell carcinoma located in a lymph node of his neck. He underwent treatment for cancer for two months. This included getting treatments at halftime. Just in case Rivera was not able to coach, he appointed defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio to be on stand by. Rivera beat cancer in October.
After a year and a half and 17+ surgeries, Alex Smith made it back onto FedEx field in Week 5 of the NFL Season, relieving former Panthers’ QB Kyle Allen.
Smith would stay the backup until Allen suffered a season-ending injury in Week 9 against the rival New York Giants. Smith took over as the starter for the rest of the season and led the Football Team to a 7-9 record and their first divisional title since 2015.
The offense went through four different quarterbacks throughout the season. Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, Alex Smith, and Taylor Heinicke all played snaps under center.
Antonio Gibson, Logan Thomas, and Terry McLaurin were the brighter parts of this offense this season. Unfortunately, the other surrounding pieces on the offense, including the offensive line and the other receivers dragged the offense down as well as the quarterback changes.
The Football Team’s defense, coordinated by Del Rio, presented one of the most furious defenses in the NFL, ranking 2nd in the NFL. The vicious defensive line, full of first-round picks, was a factor in the defense’s success. Montez Sweat led the team in sacks with nine. Washington finished 6th in sacks (47).
Despite the absence of Landon Collins, the secondary played up to par with Kendall Fuller leading the way, in his return to DC.
Although they started off the season horribly, Ron Rivera’s club went on a four-game winning streak from Weeks 11-14. They were able to maintain the division lead since the New York Giants lost to the Arizona Cardinals and were not able to control their own destiny.
How Does The Future Look For Washington?
Despite the momentum stemming from 2020, the Football Team will need to make improvements. The defense deserves credit for most of Washington’s success. The defensive line is full of 1st round picks like Ryan Kerrigan, Chase Young, Daron Payne, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat. The linebacker and safety groups can use some polishing.
The offense will need to be Washington’s biggest focus of the offseason in order to balance the level of play on both sides of the ball. Alex Smith is getting older and his calf injury left him out of his team’s playoff game against Tampa. With the team cutting Haskins in December, the team should search for another franchise quarterback.
Antonio Gibson and the backfield duo look good, so no replacements need to be made there. Other than Terry McLaurin, this team does not have many consistent weapons at wide receiver. Washington should look to free agency or the draft for an upgrade. Journeyman Logan Thomas was a nice find at the tight end position. The offensive line can also use some changes as they allowed the 3rd most sacks in the NFL last year.
With upgrades to the offense, Washington has the best future out of all NFC East Teams going into 2021.