In just one season, the Washington Football Team went from 3-13 to 7-9. That's already a strong marginal improvement and when you add in the fact that the record warranted an NFC East title and the team went toe-to-toe with Tom Brady in the playoffs, it's even more impressive.
More than anything, the group displayed that it has pieces within the locker room to create a winning product on the field and the right culture off of it. To rookie defensive end Chase Young, next season should yield even better returns.
“We can get crazy better," Young said on Sunday, hours after Washington's season-ending loss in the Wild Card game.
Specifically on his side of the ball, Young said Washington's defense is just getting started. That could mean something pretty special given that the unit finished the 2020 season near the top of the league.
It's the performance of the defense in Young's rookie season that has him confident even better things are on the horizon. He and his fellow defensive lineman and pass rushers form one of the most talented fronts in football that is filled with youth. Ron Rivera and defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio have found a way to get the most out of the unit, and initial months everyone working together went very well.
Now, the defense gets a full offseason of work together and a chance to further build on its chemistry while players build on individual skills. Additions and returns, such as Matt Ioannidis and Landon Collins, should help as well. Based on the foundation 2020 set, Young feels the outlook for 2021 is rather positive.
“We finished second in the league on defense, and that was going through everything that everybody had to say when we were 1-5. We finished number two, if this is year one, this is just the beginning with Coach Rivera and Coach Del Rio so I mean, I think it’s going to be scary for the years to come," Young said. "We’re not letting our foot off the gas.”
In addition to what the defense did this season, Young's confidence also stems from the mindset he and his teammates have put forth. He saw the group come together, never quit and fight through a season that was filled with adversity. It was a team that wanted to succeed and wanted to do it for each and every player in the locker room.
The most recent campaign gave Young and others a taste of success, and though it ended on a sour note, he believes the experience will only fuel the fire and desire.
“Love for the game, love for one another, and I felt like we really had passion just for the game," Young said. "We went to the playoffs, it didn’t go the way we wanted it to, but everybody on this team knows we have something to build on and know what we can do.”
The recipe to build off the success is there for Washington, and it's now about following through. Washington didn't back down from any challenge this season, and from everything he's seen, Young knows that won't change in the future.
"Next year it’s our chance to prove that," Young said. "I know the guys are going to be fired up.”