The views and opinions expressed in this article do not reflect the opinion of the team.
The Washington Football Team emerged as the NFC East champs for the first time since 2015 at the conclusion of the 2020 campaign, and even though the team lost its Wild Card matchup against the Super Bowl-winning Tampa Bay Buccaneers, there are plenty of positives surrounding the team heading into the offseason. Now that the 2020 season is officially over, the attention is already being turned towards next season. Here is where Washington stands in several "way-too-early" 2021 NFL power rankings.
John Keim: "Washington has had major questions surrounding this position for decades. It has a world-class defensive line that makes the defense ready to compete for titles now. It missed on quarterback Matthew Stafford, but the quest will continue. In the end, though, if Washington can't get one of a handful of QBs it likes, it could roll it back with Alex Smith, perhaps adding yet another young QB to groom (to its already young backup group), and bolstering two areas on offense: line and wide receiver. Then resume the quest in 2022."
Vinnie Iyer: "Washington doesn't need to worry much about defense as the backbone for Ron Rivera. It also can run the ball. But It needs to find a legitimate quarterback solution and a more dynamic passing game, given WFT can't expect to be sub-.500 and a division winner again."
Pro Football Network
Matt Williamson: "The Football Team went to the playoffs despite a 7-9 record but did have a positive point differential. Their 4.9 yards per play was the second-worst in football. Still, that ended up being good enough to win the putrid NFC East. However, Washington was the Buccaneers' first victim in the postseason, though.
Russell S. Baxter: "It was quite the year for the franchise both on and off the field. New head coach Ron Rivera went through four different starting quarterbacks, wound up with NFL Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith at the controls and 2019 first-round pick Dwayne Haskins off the roster. The Washington defense was fierce and rookie Chase Young and '19 first-rounder Montez Sweat keyed the pass rush. And a 7-9 mark was good enough to win the NFC East."
NBC Sports Chicago
Adam Hoge: "I'm not sure any organization has undergone a more successful makeover in the last year. Now Washington just needs a new name and a new quarterback."
NFL Staff: "The Washington Football Team managed just seven wins in 2020, but that earned a playoff spot as the "champions" of a dreadful NFC East. Now the team has to attempt to improve upon that mark, and one issue towers above all others -- the quarterback position. In less than two seasons, Dwayne Haskins Jr. went from first-round pick to outright released. Alex Smith's return and Comeback Player of the Year Award was a great story, but he's not close to the player he once was and may retire. Taylor Heinicke was a fan favorite for all of one game -- just the second start of his career. Washington has a stout defense spearheaded by what may be the best defensive line in the game. The offense has some weapons in wide receiver Terry McLaurin, running back Antonio Gibson and tight end Logan Thomas. But if Washington is going to have any chance at repeating in the division in 2021, it has to figure out the signal-caller situation."
Danny Kelly: "Washington is headed in the right direction, and the team's dominant defensive line is an excellent foundation upon which to build. But on offense, the team's high-caliber skill players, like receiver Terry McLaurin and running back Antonio Gibson, have been weighed down by underwhelming quarterback play. Dwayne Haskins is gone, Alex Smith is not the long-term answer, and Taylor Heinicke may be nothing more than just a postseason flash in the pan. Until the quarterback position is settled in Washington, this team's ceiling looks capped."
Dan Hanzus: "Quarterback is the position to watch in Washington. Dwayne Haskins is no longer in the picture and Alex Smith is more a great story than a great option at quarterback at this stage of his career. Ron Rivera and the Washington brain trust need to find a long-term answer to pair with a star-studded defense. They also need to provide their 2021 quarterback with better weapons beyond star receiver Terry McLaurin. Although its 2020 season featured a strong finish, Washington still has much work to do to become a legitimate Super Bowl contender."
Nate Davis: "Given they played the champion Bucs as tough as anyone in the playoffs -- while winging it at QB -- every reason to be optimistic heading into Year 2 under Ron Rivera."
The MMBQ Staff: "Winning the worst division in NFL history counts as a step forward. But quarterback is a question, like it is for so many other teams in this section of the rankings."