Washington parted ways with Jay Gruden after five losses to start their 2019 campaign. Things didn’t get much bette. Surprisingly, Case Keenum and Adrian Peterson failed to get anything going. Also, Jordan Reed and Vernon Davis combined to miss 28 games due to concussions. Throw in the fact that Alex Smith is still on this team and you have a fitting end to the What to Remember series. A team that would rather just forget 2019 ever happened.
What to Remember from the 2019 Washington Season
- Literally no other player had a higher percentage of his team’s air yards than Terry McLaurin in 2019. He, Courtland Sutton, and Stefon Diggs all tied for the league lead with 41% of their teams’ respective air yards. Air yardage is a measure of the length a ball traveled in the air on passes. In short, it’s the “go deep” factor of passes. Guys like DeSean Jackson have high air yards totals and guys like Julian Edelman tend to drop down the list a bit. McLaurin converted these into actual production at a rate similar to Julio Jones and DeVante Parker last season, but he just didn’t get the yardage. Washington hardly passed the ball, and while McLaurin led the league in air yards share, he ranked 24th in overall air yards, indicating a team that does not pass the ball. Why? Well, we will get into that in number two.
- In neutral situations last season, according to FootballOutsiders, Washington was the second-slowest team in the league (just 0.11 seconds behind the Chargers). “Situation Neutral” disregards when teams want to run the clock (big leads, four-minute drills) and times when teams want to go fast (down big, two-minute drills). Washington made their gameplan clear last season: run the ball, run the clock, and get this over with. They ran just 55.3 plays per game, the fewest in the league by 3.3 plays per game. That 3.3 play per game difference between #32 (Washington) and #31 (Pittsburgh) is the same as the difference between #31 and #24 (Oakland). They redefined “playing at a snail’s pace.” This depressed production across the board, meaning new coaching will lead to new opportunities for McLaurin & Company.
- If you do what I did, and sort Washington by targets, you see that running back Chris Thompson (who played just eleven games last season) ranks second on the team in targets. Second! That’s likely due to Steven Sims getting double-digit offensive snaps just seven times last season. It took a long time for Washington to get Sims going, but he finally did work in the last four games of the season. In these four games, Washington gave Sims 36 targets, which he turned into 57.5 yards on 5 catches per game, hauling in four touchdowns in four games. He isn’t going to set the world on fire, but he’s only 22 and is an explosive young player.
- We need to have a serious conversation about Dwayne Hasksins’ rookie campaign. It started off… beyond rough. He came in partway through the WAS@NYG tilt in week four due to a Case Keenum injury, and he threw three interceptions in that one game. Three picks or 30% of the Giants’ #31-ranked DVOA ten interceptions on the season. That wasn’t great. He then went on to play a top-eleven DVOA defense in five of his next six games. He, understandably, was brutally, wiped out in every single contest. Haskins ended the season playing two teams outside of the best pass defenses in the NFL, and turned week fifteen and sixteen matchups against the Eagles and the Giants (#16 and #31 passing DVOA, respectively) into four touchdowns and no picks. The problem? He threw for fewer than 400 yards in those two contests. Haskins may have some upside, but like everyone else, Washington’s pace dragged him down.
- The running back situation was a complete mess last year for Washington. Out of necessity, Adrian Peterson led the way with 211 carries. Derrius Guice, he of a million leg injuries, chipped in 42 carries in five games. A lot of people hope and wish and dream that Guice can make this a one-back room. Here’s the problem: Bryce Love is really good, and redshirted last season to recover from a torn ACL. There are some who think Love could be better than Guice. Throw Peterson back into the mix and you have one of the messier RBBC rooms in fantasy football.
Check out the rest of (now completed) What to Remember series for a 32-team look at the 2019 season and what to remember for 2020 fantasy football leagues!
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