The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera.
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It's clear Terry McLaurin is the Washington Football Team's most dominant offensive weapon, and his hard work has made him one of the most productive wide receivers this year. The former Ohio State Buckeye is sixth in the NFL with 387 yards and a touchdown on 26 receptions.
But wide receivers coach Jim Hostler wants to see more out of McLaurin as Washington enters the second quarter of the season. He has clearly improved, but Hostler wants him to maintain that growth throughout the year.
"Like all young players, the consistency needs to grow. He does a lot of good things and then he does some things that aren't so good. We've got to even all those out."
There are areas where McLaurin has excelled through four games. He leads all receivers with 200 yards after the catch, and Hostler said he does a good job of protecting the ball when he turns upfield.
But there are other areas, like gaining more familiarity playing in different spots on the field, that Hostler wants to see more improvement from McLaurin. Those are the things that expand with No. 1 receivers, he said, when teams start to scheme against them. McLaurin is still a young player, so his comfort level will increase with repetition.
"Those are the things that have to develop, and that's where he is right now," he said. "He's developing in those areas. Mostly outside last year, this year he has to be inside and we've put more stress on him as an inside route runner, how you run routes in there and those kinds of things. That's where he's got to grow."
McLaurin has lined up as an outside receiver on 71% of his 254 snaps, but most of his production has come inside the numbers. He has 11 catches for 201 yards and a touchdown as a slot receiver and averages 18 yards per reception. However, McLaurin's ability with the ball in his hands is more apparent on the outside, where 121 of his 186 yards have come after the catch.
Those numbers are a good start, especially after considering McLaurin has matched up against cornerbacks like Darius Slay, Patrick Peterson, Denzel Ward, Marlon Humphrey and Marcus Peters. There are 12 games left, though, and Hostler wants him to build off that success.
"He's got to string games along in that realm," Hostler said. "So, the ability to do that every week for 16 weeks, that's when you know he can do that."
-- Ron Rivera respects Sean McVay's creativity: Sean McVay has molded innovative offenses since he became the Los Angeles Rams' head coach in 2017. He has led the team to a 3-1 start this season, and his offense is second in the NFL with a Defense-adjusted Value Over Average (DVOA) of 20.6%, per Football Outsiders. His play-action-fueled passing game ranks eighth with a DVOA of 30.2%. As a defensive-minded head coach, Ron Rivera respects McVay's creativity.
"His whole history is about the game. He's a guy that grew up studying the game and understands the game. He's got a creative side to him that I think is one of those things that helps to set up what he wants to do. He's really sharp, he's intuitive, he studies, he's really sharp, he gets it."
-- Antonio Gandy-Golden is getting more opportunities: Washington has endured a slew of injuries at the wide receiver position dating back to the offseason. Kelvin Harmon ended his season prior to training camp after tearing his ACL, and Steven Sims Jr. was placed on Injured Reserve Friday, which means the team's younger receivers will have the chance to prove themselves early in their careers. Enter Antonio Gandy-Golden, who has received an uptick in playing time the past two weeks. Gandy-Golden only has one reception for three yards thus far, but Rivera is starting to see progress from the fourth-round pick, and Hostler said he is getting more opportunities.
"The more opportunities [he gets] are going to be based on the way teams take away Terry and his opportunities will go up. He's in the same boat as the other guys. It's the consistency over time. It's easier to play a couple weeks as a young guy. No one knows you; you go out there, you're focused, you're locked in. It's the week-to-week [progress] that's going to tell you...how he develops."
-- Another new quarterback for McLaurin: With Allen getting his first start in Washington, McLaurin will catch a pass from his fourth quarterback in 18 games. Despite that inconsistency, McLaurin has had one of the most productive starts for a receiver in franchise history with 84 receptions for 1,306 yards and eight touchdowns. Hostler said his receivers don't focus too much on who throws them the ball, but he does admit McLaurin has adjusted well to the changes.
"That's part of doing your job, staying locked into what you're responsible for. In this business, if people are spending time worrying about what other people are doing, then you're going to end up being the problem in the end. That's a big focus of coaches and players in this league, no matter what's going on at any position. You've got to lock into what you do, how you do it, and maintain your consistency and you doing your job. That's really where Terry's at."
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