As he approaches his second year in charge, Washington Football Team coach Ron Rivera is hopeful an incremental approach is all that's necessary to vault the franchise back into the postseason.
How Washington addressed the quarterback position was largely indicative of the team's offseason. Rather than pursuing a marquee free agent or acquiring a Pro Bowl-caliber passer, WFT handed Ryan Fitzpatrick a one-year, $10 million contract.
Rivera also reunited with Curtis Samuel to further strengthen the offense and signed William Jackson III to address the secondary.
Washington is the reigning NFC East champion, but that was largely an indictment of the division a season ago rather than an endorsement of the team that claimed first place. Granted, WFT was a much better team in the second half and gave the eventual Super Bowl champion Tampa Bay Buccaneers a stiff challenge in the NFC Wild Card Round.
If Washington once again boasts an elite defense and avoids another 1-5 start, then coming out on top in the East isn't out of the question.
2021 Washington Football Team Schedule
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The team didn't exactly need another difficult clash added to the schedule.
Washington plays the Buccaneers, New Orleans Saints, Kansas City Chiefs, Los Angeles Chargers and Seattle Seahawks, and those are just the teams coming to FedExField. Road tests against the Green Bay Packers and Las Vegas Raiders loom as well.
The Atlanta Falcons provide a reprieve since they appear to be rebuilding, and the Carolina Panthers are likely another year away unless Sam Darnold has a Ryan Tannehill-like breakout season upon immediately leaving Adam Gase's sphere of influence.
In general, some fans saw Washington effectively back its way into the playoff with a losing record in 2020. Should the team earn a postseason berth again, it will have earned it.
Until he puts together a larger body of work, the jury's out on Jalen Hurts. Based on his rookie numbers (1,061 yards, six touchdowns, four interceptions and a 52 percent completion rate), the Philadelphia Eagles offense is likely to be a work in progress.
The Cowboys will have a healthy Dak Prescott under center, but his season-ending injury merely exacerbated larger problems with the team. Prescott wouldn't have helped a defense that allowed 386.4 yards and 29.6 points per game.
While keeping Prescott was a home run for Dallas, the team didn't have much money left over to address the roster further.
The Giants were on the opposite end of the spectrum. They handed over $99.1 million in guaranteed money, per Over the Cap. Adding Kenny Golladay, Adoree' Jackson and Kyle Rudolph while retaining Leonard Williams should theoretically raise New York's ceiling. But so much will hinge on how Daniel Jones plays, which doesn't inspire a ton of confidence.
Going 3-1 against the Cowboys and Giants is more than possible for Washington, and that would go a long way in the division race.