J.D. McKissic is officially back with the Washington Commanders, but for a while it looked like he wouldn't be.
Not long after the league year began last week, it was reported that McKissic, who had spent the previous two seasons in Washington, would be heading to the Buffalo Bills. Not long after that, though, ESPN's Adam Schefter announced that McKissic had switched courses and decided to remain part of the Commanders' backfield.
Everyone, McKissic included, is excited he's coming back. He's already heard from his position coaches and fellow running backs -- a group he said feels like family. The way McKissic sees it, there's still plenty to accomplish in a place he considers home.
"I had unfinished business in Washington," McKissic told reporters Thursday morning. "The way we left off, I felt like we were inclining."
It's easy to see why McKissic would feel that way, because he's not wrong. Washington has made progress from the 3-13 finish it had in 2019, winning seven games the past two seasons. McKissic, who Washington signed away from the Detroit Lions, has been a lynchpin to that upturn, as he's accounted for 1,563 total yards and seven touchdowns, both of which are more than in his previous stops combined.
The 2021 season was viewed by many as more of a lateral move in terms of the roster's development, but that's not the way McKissic sees things. Multiple injuries to key players, himself included, stunted Washington's progress after a four-game win streak gave the team control of its playoff hopes.
"I feel like [we were] one of the hottest teams in our division at the time," McKissic said. "A lot of guys went down, and you can only go so far with that. Unfortunately, it happened to us, but we're looking forward to coming out a bit harder than last year."
That potential is part of what enticed McKissic to come back. Most of the core pieces that helped Washington kick off that win streak are still with the team. The Commanders lost Brandon Scherff, but they gained another starter in Andrew Norwell. They also traded for Carson Wentz, who he's excited to work with.
McKissic knows he turned down a chance to join a Super Bowl contender in the AFC. The Bills, which boasts one of the best offenses in the league, was one wild overtime away from being in the AFC Championship game.
And yet, McKissic wanted to stay in Washington.
"Buffalo is a great organization," McKissic said. "They're doing some great things, but I feel like we can do great things here as well … I made my decision off of where I wanted to be."
Now that McKissic has made his choice, his focus should now shift to getting himself ready for the 2022 season to help prove that Washington can be what he envisions. He was placed on Injured Reserve last year with a neck injury, which he admitted was a scary situation.
Recovery has gone well, though, and he expects himself to be ready to go once workouts begin.
"I'm a fearless young man, and I'm ready to get back out there and help this team," McKissic said.
McKissic doesn't like to predict things, but he does have high hopes for Washington's offense once it's at full strength. In addition to himself, Curtis Samuel is expected to return fully healthy in 2022. Logan Thomas might take some more time since his knee injury occurred late last season, but he should still be available for the majority of the games.
"Those guys…they're pretty explosive guys," McKissic said. "They just need someone to get the ball to them. Like I said, I don't really want to predict, because I don't want to get too caught up in that. I just want to start where we left off."
McKissic sees a lot to build on.
"I'd be a fool to say that we wouldn't make a playoff run," he said. "I definitely think it would have been a lot more competitive."