Fitzmagic can lead Washington to the promised land

Fitzmagic should have a career season in D.C.

By: Jake Rajala

Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is also known as the Gandalf of quarterbacks, is lacing his cleats for his 16th Week 1 appearance in the NFL. “Fitzmagic” is arguably now being given the best opportunity to show he can be a quality starting QB on a competitive team in the entirety of his career. I believe that the bearded veteran QB will do career wonders and complement his ferocious defense very well. Here is why the journeyman QB and fan-favorite can lead his team to glory and put a pin on the divisional hopes of the Philadelphia Eagles, New York Giants, and the prized Dallas Cowboys.

  • WR Terry McLaurin

Ryan Fitzpatrick has had the pleasure of being a QB in an offense with Mike Evans, but his new WR in Washington will be the best weapon he’s had yet. For starters, he’s not living and dying by the sword with a WR1, whereas he was in Tampa with Bruce Arian’s vertical, passing attack. He will not only be allowed to be more conservative with his top WR, but his top WR matches his own skillset quite well.

McLaurin’s gift is his deep speed and ability to torch defenses on the backend. Mike Evans and the former Texans great WR Andre Johnson were big body, big-play WRs, but they didn’t have 4.31 speed like McLaurin. Fitzmagic truly can stretch the field and he showed that last season as he was ranked sixth in the league in YPA. The former Dolphins QB also had highlight-reel plays that showed off his arm strength and talent (see below).

McLaurin suffered from playing with the ultra game manager in Alex Smith last season, but he should be back to scorching secondaries in 2020. The 15.8 YPC tally held by Mclaurin in the 2019 season with Case Keenum as the QB should be eclipsed this season with the exciting Fitzmagic as the signal-caller this season.

  • The best defense he’s yielded

Fitzmagic may undeservedly get the recognition of a “plug and play QB”, but he truly can take care of the football AND be efficient at the same time. Fitzpatrick hasn’t been awarded a starting gig on a team over the past several seasons that could offer weapons on offense, play above average on defense, and not have to ask him to play lights out at the QB position. For example, in the past several years, he’s played two years for the New York Jets, two years for the once atrocious Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and two years for a mostly struggling Dolphins squad. The Jets were steamrolled in most of their matchups and the Buccaneers had Winston throwing the ball nonstop and learning less while doing it. However, he did play one season with a quality offensive system and defense to compliment him.

When he played with the Texans in 2014, the Texans had the seventh-best scoring defense. Fitzpatrick clocked 17 passing touchdowns to eight interceptions while recording the third-best single season QBR in his career that season. To no surprise, the sharp Texans QB with a talented supporting cast helped his team have the second best takeaway/giveaway ratio in the league. Fitzmagic helped unveil the Texans unveil their best takeaway/giveaway ratio in the “last twenty years”.

Fitzpatrick is finally in an offense where he will have numerous Pro Bowl-caliber players, a coach that hasn’t a young QB breathing down his neck, and a scary defense to allow the veteran QB to play his methodical, splash play, style of game. The best thing going for Fitzpatrick is not just that his defense is good, but his defense is VERY good. The Washington Football Team essentially rode on the backs of the team’s defense into the postseason last year, particularly on the front seven led by 2020 Defensive Rookie of The Year Chase Young. Despite having undrafted QB Taylor Heinicke at QB, this team gave Tom Brady a fight in the wildcard matchup up until the fourth quarter.

I’m not saying the Washington defense can edge out TB12 or Aaron Rodgers by themselves, but if they have a bit more juice at QB, they ought to be able to be real playoff contenders. In the past six Super Bowls, we’ve witnessed very intense defenses with reliable QBs make it to the dance four times. The Broncos garnered a ring with Brock Osweiler at QB, the 49ers play with Jimmy Garopollo at QB, the Rams compete with Jared Goff at QB, and the Eagles win big with Nick Foles calling the shots. Fitzpatrick is a well capable QB who has finally earned himself the golden situation. Expect impressive personal feats to be claimed by the legendary QB and postseason advances to occur in Rivera’s second year leading the hungry team.

Why the New York Giants can contend for playoffs

New York Giants playoff bound next season?

By: Jeremy Trottier

The New York Giants have had a very impressive offseason, bringing in a lot of new members to the team and really improving it in all facets.  The Giants also only missed the playoffs last season by one game, and even though they were in a notoriously weak 2020 NFC East, they were still able to be in that position with rather lackluster receiving options and lacked depth.  In this article, I will be going over three reasons the New York Giants can return to the playoffs for the first time since 2016.

Hugely Improved Roster

As I previously mentioned, the Giants have made some significant improvements to their roster and 

have really given Daniel Jones every single opportunity to succeed in the 2021-2022 season.  The most notable two additions for Jones will be Kenny Golladay and Kadarius Toney, who both bring some elite separation factor to the roster, granted in different ways.  Toney reminds me of almost an Alvin Kamara of sorts in terms of how insanely elusive he is, obviously not that level of playmaker yet but his shifts and lateral agility are absolutely off the charts.  Having a short-range receiver like that who can turn five yards into 25 is massive.  

Outside these two additions they also brought in players like Azeez Ojulari and Elerson Smith to help the linebacking front, Rodarius Williams for CB depth and even potential to start eventually, and OL depth in Jake Burton and Raymond Johnson III.  It is also notable that they will have a returning Xavier McKinney for a full season of play potentially and his young capabilities should sure up an already solid secondary.

Daniel Jones is Ready for the Next Step

One of the most notable things in the NFL is when quarterbacks really learn the NFL landscape and make the jump from solid to good.  Josh Allen did it last season (year three), Baker Mayfield really improved from season two to season three, even players like Ryan Tannehill improved extremely when getting more weapons around them, in his case a new system and team. 

Daniel Jones did have a relatively down year in 2020, no doubt, throwing almost as many TDs as interceptions and less than 3000 yards, however, who can blame him?  When your primary receiving threats are a not yet developed Darius Slayton, Sterling Shephard who has been mediocre and struggles with separation, and Evan Engram who despite being a Pro-Bowler last season really has trouble holding onto the ball, you are bound to have issues passing.  Also take note he did not have Saquon Barkley out of the backfield to pitch to when he was under pressure.  With that said, he has the weapons, he has a somewhat developing O-line, and a phenomenal defense to get him the ball back.  He should perform at a new high level in 2021 based on all of this.

The NFC East is…Interesting

Finally, we take a look at the surrounding teams, all of which have huge deals of question marks.  Starting with the Dallas Cowboys, who yes, should be contending for the playoffs, however, this is provided Dak Prescott is actually able to play at the high level he did previously, and the injury did not change him heavily.  Even if so, the Cowboys did go 2-3 prior to Dak’s injury last season, and one game was pure because the Atlanta Falcons had a miscue on special teams.  

Then you have the Washington Football Team, who yes are also primed to make a playoff push potentially.  With that said, again, is their QB a set thing?  Ryan Fitzpatrick did do well with the Miami Dolphins, but this is a completely different offense, and many forget Fitz was not extraordinary and consistent with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers not too long ago.  The WFT also are missing strength along the O-line to protect Fitz, and could definitely use some more in terms of secondary depth and potentially even another CB.  

Finally, the Philadelphia Eagles, who most have written off as the bottom team in this division right now, as they are mainly banking on Jalen Hurts and Devonta Smith to push this team forward.  With a continually aging offensive line, a relatively dismantled defense outside a few players like Fletcher Cox and Darius Slay, they really look like they will struggle unless something sparks heavily.

What is the ceiling for Taylor Heinicke?

Is Taylor Heinicke the future quarterback in Washington?

By: Adam Hulse (@AdamHulseSports)

Taylor Heinicke is a very interesting player to keep an eye on heading into the 2021 NFL season. According to head coach Ron Rivera, Washington will head into training camp with an open competition for the starting quarterback job between Heinicke, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Kyle Allen, and Steven Montez. While Fitzpatrick is the likely front runner for the job in week one, Heinicke should be right on his heels with a real chance to win the starting role at some point. The fact that the organization just gave him a two year contract extension despite signing the 38 year old Fitzpatrick in free agency is a clear indicator that they believe in the potential of Heinicke.

Career Numbers

Heinicke is already 28 years old and has a very small sample size to go off of when looking at his career statistics. In the regular season across eight games played, he has completed 62.3 percent of his passes for 467 yards with two touchdowns and three interceptions. He has also demonstrated his athleticism with 9 carries for 55 rushing yards. His career 71.7 passer rating is underwhelming but hard to fairly judge given the lack of volume. He’s produced very mixed results to say the least.

The one game that really showed off his potential was the playoff game that he started against the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Bucs last year. Washington did lose the game but was very competitive in the contest, partially due to the best game of the young career of Heinicke. He completed 26 passes for 306 yards and a touchdown while also rushing for an additional 46 yards on six attempts and another touchdown. This performance is the main reason why he was given an extension to remain in Washington with aspirations of becoming the future starting quarterback.

Season Outlook

The biggest and most obvious question for Heinicke heading into the 2021 NFL season is if and when he will get his opportunity to play. That may depend more on the play of Fitzpatrick, if he does in fact get the starting job for week one of the season. Fitzpatrick chose Washington in free agency because he believes it is his best chance to be the starter on a contending team. He did not sign there to be a backup or a mentor to Heinicke. He believes he still has plenty left in the tank and his solid 2020 season backs that up.

Across nine games played in 2020, Fitzpatrick completed 68.5 percent of his passes for 2091 yards and 13 touchdowns while helping the Miami Dolphins compete for a spot in the playoffs. In addition to registering his highest completion percentage in a season, he also recorded his best ever total QBR at 76.8 and his 95.6 passer rating was the second best mark for a season in his long 16 year career. If he puts up a similar stat line or better to start the 2021 NFL season, it’s going to be hard for Heinicke to justifiably take over the job. Ironically, Fitzpatrick did lose his starting job last year to rookie Tua Tagovailoa despite his great efforts.

The Ceiling

If Fitzpatrick begins the season as the starter, he will be on a very short leash and head coach Ron Rivera could choose to switch to Heinicke at any time. In fact, there is still a decent chance that Heinicke could even win the QB competition in training camp and be named the week one starter any way. Washington is a team with hopes of returning to the playoffs this year so they will need solid quarterback play out of whoever the starter is.

In terms of a player comparison, the ceiling for Heinicke would be a Ryan Tannehill type. They both have similar skill sets with a comparable list of strengths and weaknesses. They can both be gunslingers at times who are willing to take risks in the passing game. They are both very athletic players who definitely prefer to pass first but can also beat a defense with their rushing abilities when necessary. Tannehill at this current stage of his career is a borderline top ten quarterback in the NFL, so if Heinicke can reach that level, the Washington organization is going to be very happy with their decision to give him a contract extension this past offseason.

Top QB sleepers in redraft

Wentz is a top QB sleeper in fantasy

Intro

We are speeding into fantasy draft season come August. Every year there are players that intrigue us based on their role/situation with their current teams. I’d take a look at the quarterback position and dive into three sleepers at QB that should be looked into for redraft leagues.

Carson Wentz, Sam Darnold and Ryan Fitzpatrick are my QB sleepers heading into the 2021 NFL fantasy redraft drafts. Each one of these guys are now on teams and hoping a fresh start can start can get them into the upper tier of QB fantasy rankings.

Carson Wentz

Season 2020 stats: 12 games started, 2620 passing yards, 16 TDs and 15 Ints. Wentz went 3-8-1 in the 12 games started for the Eagles. Wentz scored 213.40 fantasy points in 2020 which was good for 22nd among all QBs. After having an MVP caliber season back in 2017, he has never been quite the same. For whatever the reasons might be, Wentz lost that magic touch.

Wentz was traded in the off-season to Colts is now re-united with his old offensive coordinator Frank Reich. The 2017 season was a breakout one for Wentz, he threw 33 TDs, 7 INTs, and 3296 passing yards before he tore his left ACL in week 14. Wentz was fifth-best fantasy QB that season with a total of 283 fantasy points.

I’m fully on board with the Wentz fantasy train this season. The reunion of Wentz with his old offensive coordinator will do wonders for his career especially this season. He also playing behind one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. Do not sleep on Wentz as a top 15 fantasy QB play for the 2021 season.

Sam Darnold

Season 2020 stats: 12 games started, 2208 passing yards, 9 TDs and 11 Ints. Yes, you guys read that correctly just nine passing touchdowns all season by Darnold! He was the 30th QB in terms of fantasy points with just 145.02. Just for context Dak Prescott had 138 fantasy points in just 5 games before his injury.

Darnold is an enigma of sorts. He has shown flashes of brilliance, making off-balance throws and escapability out of the pocket. The issue is that he’s just shown flashes. There have been way too many mind-numbing turnovers, head-scratching decisions, and just downright awful QB play. Now, Darnold was also playing with the worst offensive line unit in the NFL for the past three seasons. He had no standout play-makers who would scare the opposing defenses and the worst head coach the last two seasons.

However, that is all in the past. I am a believer in Darnold’s ability. After being traded in the off-season to the Carolina Panthers, he has a clean slate. With head coach Matt Rhule at the helm, Darnold is set to prove his doubters wrong. He has the best running back in the NFL in Christian McCaffrey, with a plethora of other offensive weapons including rookie wide receiver Terrace Marshall Jr.

Darnold has the best supporting cast and coaching staff he has ever been around. There is no question that Darnold has the talent, it was always when he can put it all together and be consistent. Darnold in terms of fantasy relevance will be late round steal. Yes, let others in your draft snag the highly touted QBs while you build roster depth. A serviceable QB in the late rounds of fantasy drafts is a gold mine. Darnold will be a late round hidden gem.

Ryan Fitzpatrick

Season 2020 stats: 7 games started, 2091 passing yards, 13 TDs and 8 Ints. Ah, the ageless wonder himself, old man winter etc. the names can go on and on for Fitzpatrick but he just keeps on. Fitzpatrick was the 28th fantasy QB last season with 160.74 fantasy points.

Leaving the Miami Dolphins in the off-season for the Washington Football team is the best win-now scenario for Fitzpatrick. That defense is absolutely loaded and going to wreak havoc this upcoming season. As far as offensively, Fitzpatrick has arguably the best talent that he’s been around, maybe ever. Antonio Gibson is a rock star and Terry McLaurin is an absolute stud. The team signed all-purpose wide receiver Curtis Samuel and drafted rookie, Dyami Brown.

Under coach Ron Rivera, Fitzpatrick can flourish in that system with those play-makers on offense. The best part is that he knows that defense will back him up no matter what, so you could essentially see a looser Fitzpatrick not having to carry the entire team on his back. Look for Fitzpatrick to be another late round grab in fantasy drafts.

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Can Washington retain the NFC East

By: Andy Davies

The Washington Football Team were crowned champions of the NFC East last season for the first time since the 2015 season, despite their 7-9 record.

In a division no team has retained since the 2004 season, can the Washington Football Team go on to repeat their success from last season?

The Right Man In Charge

If any team is to be successful, then they need a top quality head coach. Ron Rivera is certainly the man to fulfil those requirements.

Rivera guided the Carolina Panthers to a 15-1 record in the 2015 season, losing in Super Bowl 50 to the Denver Broncos. His time in Charlotte ended in disappointing fashion but in his first season in charge of Washington, Rivera reminded everyone what a great coach he is.

Rivera is a leader who immediately attracts respect from his players to his coaching staff.

“He’s definitely one of the pillars of my success. I always wanted to go out there and work for him, make him proud and show him that I’m going to capitalize on the opportunity that he presented me and he gave me. It’s deeper than football. He’s a great coach, but he’s a better man. That’s what really separates him from other coaches”, said Efe Obada, who got his chance in the NFL under Rivera.

“Ron means a lot to a lot of guys in here for a lot of things outside of football. The biggest thing you hear from current players, former players and guys who played for him in different organizations, is how much he meant to guys aside from just the fact that he was their football coach”, said former Panthers tight end Greg Olsen.

Quarterback Issue Resolved, For Now

There was one area of the field that held this team back in 2020, the quarterback position.

Washington’s defensive line excelled with Jonathan Allen and Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young. Wide receiver Terry McLaurin had an excellent season and will be accompanied by Curtis Samuel, who brings flexibility to the position. Running back Antonio Gibson was also brilliant in 2020, with 795 rushing yards and 11 rushing touchdowns.

However, quarterback was a problem for Washington. 2019 fifteenth overall pick Dwayne Haskins started week one but only started five more games before eventually being released. 

Kyle Allen was reunited with Rivera but injury would end his season prematurely. Alex Smith had the brilliant story, coming back after life threatening injury and Taylor Heinicke had his moment in the Wildcard Round to eventual Super Bowl Champions, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Smith has since retired and whilst Heinicke deserves a chance to be a starter, Rivera clearly feels he will not be the answer over the course of the whole season.

Ryan Fitzpatrick has come in this offseason after a two-year stint with the Miami Dolphins. After arguably one of the best seasons of his career, Fitz will hope to keep this momentum going into the 2021 season.

Fitzpatrick has been notoriously inconsistent during his sixteen NFL career. If Washington can get the one we saw in 2020 and the Fitz that threw for 31 touchdowns and 15 interceptions with the New York Jets in 2015, then Washington have their QB resolved.

However, there is likely only to be one or two seasons left of Fitzpatrick’s career. Whether or not Heinicke or Allen prove themselves, Washington may look at taking a quarterback in the 2022 or 2023 NFL Draft.

Can They Win The NFC East?

Washington have some talented players and have the nucleus of a young up and coming team.

The Dallas Cowboys will be the favourites for the division, with Dak Prescott’s injury likely to have been a reason for them not winning it. They have attempted to address their defensive issues in 2021 but head coach Mike McCarthy could hold them back.

A difficult season in 2021 is expected for the Philadelphia Eagles and the New York Giants, despite a good offseason, still have their own issues at the quarterback position despite their promising head coach.

There is a feel good atmosphere in Washington once again after a difficult few years both on and off the field.

With the health of Dak and the question mark around Dallas’ defense and head coach, there is a tremendous opportunity for this Washington team to capitalise and win the NFC East once again.

Quarterbacks that could SURPRISE in 2021

By: Alan Parker

Justin Herbert and Josh Allen burst onto the scene in 2020, one as a rookie and the other after a few years of promising play. Lamar Jackson put his elite athleticism on display en-route to leading the league in passing touchdowns in 2019. But who will put the league on show in 2021, dominating on both the field and in fantasy football?

Jared Goff, Detroit Lions

It’s very strange to see Mr. Perfect in Detroit, but there’s potential for Goff to show why he was the first overall pick of the 2016 NFL Draft. 2020 was a rough year for Goff, however it was not much different to 2019 as in both years he was on pace for 4000 plus yards over 16 games to go along with close to a 3.5-percent touchdown rate and a 2.5-percent interception rate. In fact, he was considerably more accurate last season than in previous years, hitting career highs in completion percentage and on-target percentage. However, this is to be expected when your intended air yards per pass fall a whole yard and a half according to Pro Football Reference.

With his seemingly best friend and coach Sean McVay giving up on him, trading him away for a man seven years older than him, one would expect Goff’s confidence to take a hit. However, he now gets to play behind arguably one of the best offensive lines in the NFL, after Detroit selected Sewell and re-upped with Ragnow, and has a pair of dynamic weapons in Swift and Hockenson. Now the receiver room is absolutely awful, but there could be some cap casualties around the league that would dramatically improve his arsenal of weapons, potentially the ever-present Jamison Crowder.

Expect a strong season from Goff as he leads a tough, “bite your kneecap off” type of team to a few more wins than expected. A few deep threats such as Perriman and Williams, along with an intriguing Amon-Ra St. Brown as well as low expectations should let Goff sling it often.

Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints

I am still a believer that Jameis Winston is exceptionally talented, albeit with some serious flaws. After getting LASIK eye surgery that should help him avoid targeting opposite defensive-backs, Winston should walk into the starting spot in New Orleans. A year under his belt at the “Harvard of quarterbacking” will help curb his poor habit of helping the opposition as much as his own team.

With Michael Thomas, arguably the best receiver in the league, as well as Alvin Kamara, arguably the best running back in the league, and Sean Payton, arguably the best coach in the league, at his disposal, Winston has a chance to reignite his career. His touch, accuracy and arm strength are something else, and his ability to drive the ball downfield and outside the numbers allows Sean Payton to spread his wings after dealing with Drew Brees’ limited arm.

The Saints, despite cap problems and few picks, easily could have just transitioned from one good quarterback to another. Look out for a strong season from the last man to break 5000 yards in a season as he plays in one of the best offenses in the league, with the ability to see opposing defenders standing in front of him. People always said, “If Jameis could cut down his interceptions he could be great”, and we will soon see what he can do. There’s potential here with two of the league’s best receiving weapons to lead the league in touchdowns.

Ryan Fitzpatrick, Washington Football Team

Washington is pairing a no-nonsense, aggressive quarterback with Terry McLaurin (4.35 40-yard time) and Curtis Samuel (4.31 40-yard time). Add in that when he doesn’t feel like lighting up the defense down the field, Fitzpatrick can hit any of Adam Humphries, Dyami Brown, Antonio Gibson, or Logan Thomas.

Fitzmagic is going to have plenty of opportunities to throw as his electric offense is being paired with one of the most terrifying pass rushes in the NFL – Chase Young, Jonathan Allen, and Montez Sweat to name but a few (maybe half) of their dominant defenders.

Watch out for another season where we say, “Fitzpatrick can really spin it”. Washington got to the playoffs with a group of poor quarterbacks, and Fitzmagic is looking for a home. With one of the best arsenals of weapons he has had in a long time, the wiley veteran is exactly what Washington needs to repeat their previous years success, and maybe even surpass it.

Why Ryan Fitzpatrick can make his first Pro Bowl

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick Pro Bowl bound in 2021?

The Washington Football Team won the NFC East and snuck into the playoffs with an abysmal seven wins last season. Even though Ron Rivera won the division and made the dance in his first year as a head coach, the WFT had a large question mark at the QB position. The reigning NFC East champs answered this question mark by adding a unique legend and fan favorite, Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

Fitzpatrick is joining a team that is giving him a better opportunity to start than his most recent past squads (Miami, Tampa Bay), despite his electric performances. The journeyman signal-caller will likely not only start, but he could put up explosive numbers in year one. Here are a few reasons why the 38-year-old could hold up to his “nickname” on a consistent basis and make his first-ever Pro Bowl appearance.

NFC East competition 

This isn’t a sexy reason, but Fitzmagic could stack up his numbers by virtue of playing in four games where the opponents feature dreadful defenses. These opponents would be the Philadelphia Eagles (19th ranked in 2020) and Dallas Cowboys (23rd ranked in 2020). 

The outlook for the Philly defense and Boys defensive unit doesn’t appear to provide reason for massive swings of improvement. The Eagles defense improved on the backend with adding Anthony Harris in free agency, but their CB position continues to be worrisome after Darius Slay on the depth chart. The Eagles will also have a new scheme to learn with Jim Schwartz out of the city of brotherly love.

The Cowboys provided little reason to believe the 2021 model will be more efficient than the 2020 defensive unit. The Cowboys drafted big-time playmaker Micah Parsons, so the rookie should be a spark and long-term solution since Jaylon Smith/Leighton Vander Esch have mightily struggled to regain their 2019 form. Nonetheless, the same inconsistent secondary looms and the pass rush took a blow with the loss of Aldon Smith. 

Top weapons in his career 

Believe it or not, Fitzmagic is entering a situation where he doesn’t only appear to be the favorite candidate to start, but a scenario where he will yield the best skill players he’s seen on the same practice field. Terry McLaurin will be the top wideout he’s played with since Andre Johnson. I believe McLaurin can be at the level of Mike Evans and he’s been near that caliber with some of the worst possible QB situations. WFT also added Curtis Samuel to the offense — one of the most explosive players in space and in the vertical passing game.

The WFT also exhibits two of the most underrated skill players in the league: J.D. McKissic and Logan Thomas. McKissic caught 80 passes and notched 589 yards last season. Thomas was a consistent mismatch while recording the third most receptions by a TE last season. 

Fitzmagic carries more than a strong chance to run away with the starting gig in 2021. The bearded QB that continues to be like fine wine at his position, could oust a Pro Bowl like campaign with the combination of pedestrian battles and explosive pieces around him.

NFL Draft: Teams on the QB bubble

Will Bill Belichick draft a QB?

By: Dylan Streibig

With the NFL draft about a week away, some things are starting to take shape. As always, the quarterback position is a source of great intrigue.  It is a foregone conclusion that the first three picks will be quarterbacks.

Then, you have three other obvious teams with some degree of a quarterback need. New England, Washington, and Denver. However, there are not that many elite quarterback prospects to go around. Also, these teams may have to move up the draft board if they want to dip into the front end of this quarterback class. Here is a closer look at all three situations.

New England and Washington

These teams are in a good spot. While the need is there, both organizations can safely ride the status quo at quarterback for another year if they choose.

When you are Bill Belichick, the hot seat doesn’t exist. His team was reasonably competitive and posted a 7-9 record with Cam Newton and his eight touchdown passes as its primary quarterback a year ago. The Patriots had a slew of players opt out because of the pandemic last year. Much of that talent will return for 2021.

New England also had an unusually active free agency period headlined by Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith They both averaged over ten yards per catch last year. Newton averaged only about seven yards per attempt. The Patriots offense has always lived and died with production from the tight end spot. Rob Gronkowski is a future Hall of Famer because of it. The offense had no pass catchers that worried defenses last year. It does now.

There is no reason the Patriots should not be back in playoff contention next year. If the front office really believes that their quarterback of the future is in this draft, they can take him, even if it is a day two prospect, but they certainly don’t have to.

Washington is in a similar situation. Ron Rivera is under no pressure of losing his job after winning the division last year using three different quarterbacks in the regular season. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins threw more interceptions than touchdowns. Kyle Allen threw for an average of 152 yards per game in his four starts. A team with this kind of quarterback play winning its division speaks to how well off the rest of the roster is.

As long as the pass rush remains fierce, it isn’t hard to imagine a free agent signing Ryan Fitzpatrick guiding this team to another division title. So, Washington can also put off addressing their long-term future at quarterback for another year if they want. Taking a quarterback in the mid-rounds this year is also an option. Regardless, Washington isn’t desperate for a quarterback right now.

Denver

The Broncos do not have the luxury of time. George Paton is entering his first season as general manager. He will be in Denver for the foreseeable future no matter how the 2021 season plays out.

The same cannot be said for Vic Fangio who comes in to his third season as head coach with a 12-20 record. He has to win now. Thus, the same can be said for pretty much the entire coaching staff.

There are still some believers in the talent of current quarterback Drew Lock. He only has 18 starts under his belt. Still, last year was ugly. 15 interceptions, three lost fumbles, and a 57.3 completion percentage all look even uglier when you consider Lock missed almost 3 full games during last year’s 5-11 campaign.

Lock did not have a traditional offseason last year, but that can be said for every player in the league. Joe Burrow entered the league as a rookie for an organization that hasn’t won a playoff game in about three decades. The offense of line was so bad it eventually left Burrow with a season-ending injury. Burrow still posted a passer rating close to 90. Lock didn’t have to deal with anything close to what Burrow did. Lock’s passer rating was in the mid-70s last year.

Who knows? Lock may still have a great career ahead. However, the coaching staff in Denver doesn’t have time to bet their jobs on him. He accounted for 18 turnovers in a little more than 13 games last year. That is a team killer. An ultra-athletic guy like Justin Fields is intriguing no matter where he lands. He could work in Denver.

Mac Jones takes care of the ball and could be excellent distributing to weapons like Noah Fant, Courtland Sutton, Jerry Jeudy, Melvin Gordon, K.J, Hamler, and Tim Patrick in Denver’s offense.

Trey Lance did not play much college football and is the complete unknown of this quarterback class. Even so, taking a chance on his raw talent is less of a risk for Denver than riding with Lock for another year. Despite rumored efforts, Denver was unable to land a solid veteran quarterback to fix the position. So, they must do whatever it takes to land a top prospect in the draft.

3 Reasons Why Ryan Fitzpatrick Will Start

The Legend of Fitzmagic Continues in Washington…

By: Adam Hulse (Twitter: @AdamHulseSports)

After two successful years with the Miami Dolphins, the man they call Fitzmagic hit the free agent market once again. He received interest from several different teams, but the 38 year old quarterback out of Harvard decided to sign a one year contract with the Washington Football Team. He did not join his now ninth different NFL team to just be a back up, but instead he has every intention of winning the job and being the starter for week one of the upcoming season. Here are three reasons why that is exactly what will happen.

Playing Better Than Ever

His game has showed no signs of declining in recent years. In fact, it could be argued that he is even better now than he ever was. The “prime” of his career and also where he spent the longest stretch of his career was with the Buffalo Bills. He started 53 total games for the Bills over 4 seasons between 2009 and 2012 where he accumulated over 11000 passing yards and threw 80 touchdowns. Over these last two years in Miami, he started 20 total games and threw for over 5500 yards and 33 touchdowns. Though a smaller sample size of course, his per game averages break down to being more productive as a Dolphin.

The one major negative to his gun slinger style of play is that he does throw a good amount of interceptions. In his defense, his interception rate has improved over time and, most importantly, it did not stop him from winning games in Miami last season. He was one of the main reasons why the Dolphins were so competitive last year and almost even made the playoffs. In addition to just the statistics, he is an excellent leader and a very well respected veteran in the locker room, as demonstrated by his efforts to lift a young and rebuilding team to far exceed their expectations last season.

Ready to Win Now

After an encouraging 2020 campaign where they won the NFC East division and made the playoffs, head coach Ron Rivera and the rest of the Washington organization believe this team is built to be a true contender this year. Their defense is already one of the best in the league, fueled by a dominant front seven and a fierce pass rush lead by Chase Young and Montez Sweat. It is a defense that is more than capable of keeping Washington in every game, and a shot to win whenever the offense performs along with them.

The offense has a very young and solid core, lead by a promising running back in Antonio Gibson, a rising star wide receiver in Terry McClaurin, a reliable tight end in Logan Thomas, and a newly acquired weapon in Curtis Samuel. The only thing missing here to complete the team, and it’s a very big missing thing, is the answer at quarterback. This is where Fitzmagic comes in. He was able to perform, and win, with less weapons on offense last year in Miami, so logic would say he should be even better in Washington this year, if he can win the starting job.

QB Competition

The quarterback position was basically a disaster for Washington last season. Alex Smith and Dwayne Haskins got the majority of playing time, but neither of them were particularly good and both threw more interceptions than they did touchdowns. The unimpressive performances resulted in both of them being released, leaving Kyle Allen and Taylor Heinicke as the other two remaining quarterbacks on the roster. Allen appears to be nothing more than a backup, while Heinicke is the big unknown in this equation. He has very little experience in his NFL career but he did start a playoff game last year where his dual threat talent was on display against a very tough Tampa Bay Bucs defense.

Heinicke and Fitzpatrick will both be fighting for the starting quarterback job this offseason. Though Heinicke is younger and more athletic, he does not have anything that compares to the proven leadership and ability to win that Fitzpatrick has. With Washington being a team that is looking to get back to the playoffs this year, and hopes of advancing even further than they did last year, Fitzpatrick has a clear edge to beat out Heinicke for the job as long he looks himself in camp, because they have a much better idea of what they are getting with the veteran.

It appears to be his job to lose, and Heinicke would have to do something really special in camp to take it from him. While that is still a possibility, it’s unlikely that Washington would have signed Fitzpatrick in the first place if they didn’t believe he would come in and win the job. He has said he wants to be on a team where he can be the starter, and it looks like he may have found that in Washington.

3 Potential Landing Spots for Ryan Fitzpatrick

Will Fitzmagic Return to Miami?

By: Benedetto Vitale (Twitter: @TalksVitale)

It appears as though this offseason we’ll be witnessing the quarterback shuffle. First, we had Matthew Stafford and Jared Goff swap teams. Rumors are swirling around Deshaun Watson and Kirk Cousins. Plus, we have a deep quarterback class in the draft this year. With so many prominent names possibly available, where does Ryan Fitzpatrick fit amongst the chaos?

Fitzpatrick is pushing 40 years old, but still, put up a decent year for the Miami Dolphins. He finished with 2,091 passing yards and 13 touchdowns through nine games played. Additionally, his 68.5 completion percentage is the highest of his career. It’s still unclear if he comes back for another season. Although, there should still be some interest in the 16-year vet. 

It’ll be difficult for Fitzpatrick to find a starting job next year, especially after Miami seems set on Tua Tagovailoa taking over as the starter next year. Alain Poupart, a writer for Sports Illustrated, explains how Fitzpatrick starting for the Dolphins is unlikely. He claims, “If Fitzpatrick still wants to at least have the chance to be a starter, he’d have to look elsewhere, though there probably aren’t many teams where he’d have a legitimate chance of accomplishing that goal.”

With that said, Fitzpatrick’s options will be limited, but there are a few franchises that may pull the trigger on signing the wily veteran. He may not be receiving a guaranteed starting role, but here are three potential landing spots for Ryan Fitzpatrick. 

One More Year in Miami?

The most likely destination for Fitzpatrick is the Miami Dolphins. He’s not likely to be named as the starter in 2021, however, he’d serve as a fantastic backup for the young rookie. With the Dolphins in a position to build a legit playoff threat, the front office may be wanting Fitzpatrick to help out for one more year. 

The best news about the Dolphins, is they have the flexibility to do whatever they want this offseason. In Kyle Crabbs article for USA Today, he explains Miami’s current situation by saying, “… thanks to all of their assets in the 2021 NFL draft, and their salary cap space, [the Dolphins] have a key luxury on their side.” Essentially, Miami can do as they see fit this offseason without many consequences. 

If that’s the case, ensuring Tagovailoa’s development is the priority. Bringing back Fitzpatrick gives the Dolphins a backup QB that is already familiar with the offense, and could step in smoothly if need be. Additionally, Fitzpatrick can be an extra coach for Tagovailoa. Re-signing Fitzpatrick would be great insurance to have in 2021. 

Fitzpatrick Becomes a Patriot ?

We’re currently in an era that hasn’t been seen in two decades. The New England Patriots are a disinterested destination for NFL players alike. Recently, it came out that Stafford told the Detroit Lions front office he would be open to playing anywhere except for New England. This doesn’t bode well for the Patriots’ future at all, which means they may have some early troubles during their re-build. 

If Ryan Fitzpatrick still wants to be a starter, this is his best bet. New England is going to have to restructure the roster through the NFL draft. They likely draft a rookie this year, but it’s still uncertain whether the selected prospect will be a day-one starter. That’s where Fitzpatrick comes in. He can be the starter until the rookie is ready to go, similar to his situation with the Miami Dolphins in 2020. 

Conor Orr, a writer for Sports Illustrated seems to agree, stating, “Sign Ryan Fitzpatrick this offseason and draft Alabama’s Mac Jones, allowing one of the all-time great bridge quarterbacks to run your offense for a year while developing a rookie starter.” The Patriots need time to build their roster, and Fitzpatrick gives them exactly that. 

Fitzpatrick Heads to Mile High?

Lastly, the Denver Broncos make the list of potential landing spots for Ryan Fitzpatrick. With question marks surrounding Drew Lock’s development, bringing in a solidified veteran may be the best answer. 

A writer for CBS Denver, Justin Adams quickly explains Lock’s 2020 season. He states, “The Broncos quarterback took a step back from his rookie season. In 13 starts, Drew Lock was 4-9 and threw 16 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, which was tied for the most in the NFL.” 

If the Broncos do sign Fitzpatrick, he’d be brought in to compete for a starting spot with Drew Lock. This may be the motivation Lock needs to kick things into gear, as Fitzpatrick will arrive guns blazing. Additionally, this would be a great way to further Lock’s development, as Fitzpatrick would be a fantastic QB for Lock to learn behind. 

It’s still unclear if the Broncos plan to keep or replace Lock. They were in the running to trade for Stafford, and there are still rumors the franchise is interested in Deshaun Watson. However, if this organization believes in Drew Lock, signing Ryan Fitzpatrick would be the best thing for the young prospect’s development. 

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