'Versatile' doesn't even begin to describe Washington's group of skill players

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Peter Hailey
·3 min read
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
This content is not available due to your privacy preferences.
Update your settings here to see it.

'Versatile' doesn't even begin to describe Washington's offense originally appeared on NBC Sports Washington

The word "versatile" has become a football buzzword, just like "physical," "dynamic" and "mobile." Because of how often those terms are used nowadays, their meaning can get lost.

For the collection of skill players that the Washington Football Team has assembled, though, "versatile" is absolutely an applicable adjective — and, honestly, it might even undersell the group.

With Curtis Samuel now in Burgundy and Gold, offensive coordinator Scott Turner will have a lot of fun devising ways to get the ball to the myriad of options he has at his disposal. Washington's opponents, on the other hand, won't have nearly as much fun preparing for Turner's bunch.

Let's start with Samuel, the new addition. In 2020, the ex-Panther posted career highs in catches (with 77) and rushing attempts (with 41). He averaged 11.1 yards per reception and 4.9 yards per carry, and he scored five times overall. Oh, and he owns a sub 4.4 40-yard dash time.

Now, how about we transition from Samuel, a running-back-turned-receiver, to Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic, two receivers-turned-running-backs?

In his rookie campaign, Gibson logged 170 rushes — with 11 of those ending in the end zone — and chipped in with 36 grabs, too.

McKissic, meanwhile, piled up his fair share of touches as well, as the veteran was called on more than 80 times as both a rusher and a pass-catcher out of the backfield. 

Don't worry, there's more.

Logan Thomas, who was a quarterback in college and a bit in the pros before becoming a tight end, completely broke out for Washington last season. Turner still found a way to take advantage of Thomas' signal-caller background — Thomas rushed for two first downs from under center on short-yardage snaps and he also connected with Terry McLaurin on Thanksgiving for a 28-yard gain.

McLaurin shouldn't be discounted, either. Yes, the bulk of his involvement did, and will continue to, come in the passing attack, but he picked up a pair of first downs on two jet sweeps in 2020, which is something he very well could do more of in the future. Plus, he's striving to be more unpredictable in his primary gig, putting in work to increase his effectiveness in the slot on top of what he accomplishes on the outside.

Download and subscribe to the Washington Football Talk podcast

The key to this unit, of course, will be Ryan Fitzpatrick (who is a low-key scrambling threat in his own right, by the way). Turner can get as creative as he wants during the week, but if Fitzpatrick is too erratic or too turnover-prone, the very high ceiling of this operation will be lowered dramatically.

On the flip side, though, Fitzpatrick should have plenty of help on the ground, thanks to the presence of Gibson, McKissic and Samuel. And if Fitzpatrick is protected enough and dialed in enough to distribute the ball to his crew of targets when he drops back, things will really get humming.

So, yes, for the rest of the offseason into training camp, you'll be hearing "versatile" more than you'll probably care for when it comes to discussing Washington's offense. Come September, however, the hope is that all that versatility will give way to other words like "lethal," "high-scoring" and, the best of all, "winning."