The Washington Football Team has made a few splashy moves in free agency, including signing former Carolina Panthers speedster Curtis Samuel to a 3 year, $34.5 million dollar contract. Here is three bold predictions on how he will do, and how it will affect Washington.
1. Washington Becomes the First Team to Repeat as NFC East Champs since 2004:
The Washington offense is starting to look like a formidable unit. Curtis Samuel joins Terry McLaurin, and Antonio Gibson, all have blazing speed and are only getting better. Combine that with a journeyman gunslinger with nothing to lose like Ryan Fitzpatrick, and you’ve got what should be one of the most exciting offenses in the league. A far cry from the check-down heavy attack they were forced to trot out last year. Washington ranked a pitiful 31st in offensive yards per drive last year, but that number will rise to the top half of the league next year. Combining even a half-decent offense with that stellar defense, they should be an easy playoff team.
2. Curtis Samuel season prediction: 975 receiving yards, 7 TDs + 120 rushing yards
Curtis Samuel has received at least 90 targets in each of the last two seasons, and last year he was vying for playing time with D.J. Moore and Robby Anderson and still finished with 97 looks. Something that boasts well for Samuel, is when Ron Rivera was the Panthers coach in 2019 he finished with 105. It’s safe to assume that he’ll cross the 100 target threshold again. Rivera will likely utilize Samuel more as a deep threat. His average intended air yards were cut in half in 2020 compared with 2019.
He was used more like a gadget/sweep/slant guy, more than a traditional downfield wideout. I expect that to change in 2021. Samuel is a better player now and should surpass the 627 receiving yards he had in 2019 pretty easily. Samuel also gets a handful of rushing carries per season. Washington has a lot of dual-threat running backs, and should not get 41 carries again like he did last year, he’ll probably get about half of that.
3. More Deep Passes Open Up for McLaurin, he finishes with 1300+ yards
McLaurin is one of the most well-rounded receivers in the league. He runs crisp routes, he has blazing speed, his drop percentage was only 3.0% last year. His targets will take a big hit with Curtis Samuel around, but he should still hover around the 130 mark. The biggest change will come in his average depth of target. It should rise substantially, and Samuel will draw more safety attention.
Over the last three seasons, the average Ryan Fitzpatrick pass travels 9.0 yards in the air. None of the Washington QBs were above 6.7 in that metric. A couple more deep completions should raise his yardage total a good bit. And although Samuel might take some end zone targets away from him on jet sweeps and those little touch passes, they will be in the red zone a lot more often. McLaurin’s receiving yards rise by about 200 or so over last year, putting him at 1,300, and he ties his career-best mark in TDs with seven.