The opinions expressed in this article do not reflect those of the team.
We're now officially 12 days from the start of training camp, meaning the anticipation is only going to rise from here. With that comes more questions, and I have answers for you. So here's what Washington fans want to know:
David T.: Move Khaleke Hudson to strong safety and utilize his ballhawking skills and speed to get more time on the field. One example isAdam Archuletawith the Rams.
So I get why you would think that's a good idea, David. Hudson played the "Viper" position at Michigan, which is essentially a blend of a safety and a linebacker. He was quite good at it, too, with some former Wolverines saying that he understands the position better than most. I still don't think it's a good idea. For one, there's enough talent at safety that you don't need more players to choose from. The other reason is that I would argue he's needed more at linebacker, and the coaches seem happy with his development. So, why shift things around when you don't need to?
David M.: I understand that a receiver can be bumped within five yards of the line of scrimmage. Will Washington be doing this to disrupt the timing of a QB and receiver?
I think that being more physical at the line of scrimmage is always a goal, but it did seem like that was a point of emphasis in the offseason. Exhibit A: William Jackson III. He's been known for how he performs in man coverage, particularly in 2019 when he was ranked ninth among the best man-to-man corners in the league. Ron Rivera also mentioned how he can move around the field with a team's No. 1 receiver. If he lives up to that reputation as expected, it should muddy up the timing between quarterbacks and pass-catchers, which will mean more sacks for the defensive line.
Garry W.: Offensively, I like the mix of youth and experience on the O-Line. We finally have a good group with lots of competition, which should push us to better results. Do you think we will be able to run the ball better? Will we try to use more ball control and smother teams if we get a 2nd half lead?
Washington averaged just over 100 yards per game last year, which ranked 26th in the league. Clearly that's not going to cut it in Year 2 of Scott Turner as the offensive coordinator. There hasn't been a final word on starting tackles, but the additions of Charles Leno Jr. and Sam Cosmi are both physical players who excel in the run game, which gives me confidence that the coaches will find some answers. There's also Saahdiq Charles to consider as well, although he could be a guard or a tackle. Before I move on, I also want to emphasize the importance of chemistry between the offensive line and running backs. Another year working together should improve the final results.
Vincent C.: Coach Rivera, with the new additions and quick offense weapons in the backfield and wideout positions, can we incorporate more double moves and counters and reverses to open up the offense because defenses like Philadelphia tend to over pursue and jump routes?
I want to give a slight spoiler alert: Rivera doesn't read these, as apparently many people believe. You'll have to settle for me, Vincent, but I think I have an answer for you. Turner showed last year that he isn't afraid to draw up some unique plays (the first that comes to mind is the tight end sneak with Logan Thomas) so it wouldn't surprise me if he adds a few more wrinkles to the game plan. The other thing to consider is that Turner likes to plan things around his players' strengths. I don't think it'll happen every game, but I could see Turner using those plays if it's appropriate.
Jon C.: Can our defense be No. 1? Can it lead us to the NFC championship game at least?
I'm going to politely sidestep the NFC Championship part of that question, other than to say if they make it to the postseason again, I feel confident enough in the roster to say that they have as good a chance as anyone in the NFC to do it. As for the expectations for the defense, I think No. 1 is possible. That's certainly Chase Young’s hope, and they weren't far off from it last year. But I'll take Jonathan Allen’s approach here: potential doesn't matter much right now, and we shouldn't worry about it. If the defense plays at the level we expect, everything should take care of itself.
Gregory W.: Hey Zach, haven't heard much on which player will be the starting free safety or which player is in the front running for the starting job. Who do you think will be the starting free safety for our WFT this season?
I think it's difficult to pin one or even two players down as the front runner right now, Gregory, particularly at the safety positions. I will say, however, that Chris Harris answered a question on what he's looking for from his starting free safety. He wants a field general and excel at being the last line of defense. They need to be solid open-field tacklers and take command of the secondary. I will say that all Washington's defensive backs have those traits, so as cliché as it is to say, it's anyone's spot to gain or lose.