The 2020 season is here, and we have you covered as the Washington Football Team progresses through its inaugural campaign under head coach Ron Rivera. Stay up to date with "WFT Daily," which comes out every weekday evening.
When Commissioner Roger Goodell started the 2020 NFL Draft by announcing the Cincinnati Bengals were on the clock, it came as no surprise when they selected quarterback Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick. The same could be said for the Washington Football Team, which took defensive end Chase Young one pick later.
The two were widely regarded as the best overall prospects in their draft class. On Sunday, they will meet for the first time in their professional careers.
Quarterbacks and pass rushers who have been taken with either the No. 1 or No. 2 overall picks in their respective drafts have met 11 times since 2010, and while the pass rushers hold a 7-4 advantage, players from both positions have put forth strong performances. Here's a look at the individual matchups.
2010: Sam Bradford (No. 1, St. Louis Rams) vs. Ndamukong Suh (No. 2, Detroit Lions)
Sam Bradford and Ndamukong Suh have faced each other four times in their careers. They first met in Week 5 of their rookie seasons with Suh recording the only interception of his career in a 44-6 win for the Lions.
Bradford met Suh three more times over the course of his career but could not manage to get a win over the defensive tackle. In those matchups, Suh recorded 12 tackles, four quarterback hits and two sacks. Bradford averaged 185 yards in those games and threw three interceptions.
The last matchup came in 2018 when Bradford started for the Arizona Cardinals and Suh played for the Los Angeles Rams. While Suh only had one tackle and one quarterback hit, the Rams held Bradford to 90 yards and won in a 34-0 blowout.
2011: Cam Newton (No. 1, Carolina Panthers) vs. Von Miller (No. 2, Denver Broncos)
Cam Newton and Von Miller have only met three times in their careers, one of which came in Super Bowl 50, and Miller had the upper hand every time. While Newton has accounted for 806 yards of offense, Miller has sacked Newton at least once in each game and recorded 15 tackles.
The best example of Miller's dominance came in Super Bowl 50 when Newton entered the game as the 2015 MVP. Miller accounted for 2.5 of the Broncos' six sacks, forced two fumbles and had a pass breakup in a 24-10 win over the Panthers. Newton and the Panthers' No. 1-ranked offense suffered from the pressure, as Newton finished the night 18-of-41 for 265 yards and an interception.
Miller had season-ending surgery before the 2020 season, meaning the Broncos were without the Pro Bowl outside linebacker when they faced Newton and the New England Patriots in Week 6. The two are both only 31 years old, though, so there is a chance they will play each other again.
2017: Myles Garrett (No. 1, Cleveland Browns) vs. Mitchell Trubisky (No. 2, Chicago Bears)
Myles Garrett and Mitchell Trubisky have only met once in their careers so far, and while the Bears came away with a 20-3 win in Week 6, both showed flashes of their talent. Trubisky finished the day 14-of-23 for 193 passing yards and 44 rushing yards, while Garrett recorded a tackle and one of Cleveland's five sacks. Their careers have gone in different directions since then; Garrett signed a contract extension prior to the start of the season, while Trubisky has spent part of the year as a backup.
2019: Kyler Murray (No. 1, Arizona Cardinal) vs. Nick Bosa (No. 2, San Francisco 49ers)
Kyler Murray and Nick Bosa both play in the NFC West, so the two are in store for many more matchups. Bosa's 49ers have a 2-1 record over Murray and the Cardinals, but Murray has outperformed Bosa so far.
In three games, Murray has thrown for 621 yards and five touchdowns with just one interception. He's also rushed for 192 yards and two touchdowns. Conversely, Bosa has 10 tackles and a quarterback hit in those games. His best performance -- six tackles and a quarterback hit -- came in Week 1, but the Cardinals held on for a 24-20 win.
Bosa tore his ACL against the New York Jets, so he will be unavailable for Murray's next game against the 49ers in Week 16. However, Bosa will have many chances to improve his stats against the Cardinals' quarterback in the future.
2020: Joe Burrow (No. 1, Cincinnati Bengals) vs. Chase Young (No. 2, Washington Football Team)
So far, Burrow and Young have performed as expected in their rookie seasons. Burrow is ninth in passing yards, and Young has 18 tackles, 3.5 sacks and a forced fumble. Head coach Ron Rivera evaluated both of them prior to the draft, and he noted the two have one thing in common: they're both confident in their abilities.
"[Burrow] and Chase have a certain charisma about the both of them that they both have individually," Rivera said. "The last time I went through that, we had the first pick when I was in Carolina. We sat down with Cam Newton. They both reminded me of Cam because they both have a certain charisma that you look for in players. Those two are the closest thing that I've seen to Cam Newton."
Rivera said Monday he had not watched much tape on Burrow's season yet, but he could tell the young quarterback is "legit."
"He's the real deal too, he really is. He's just going to continue to grow and his team will continue to get better as he gets better."
Young recorded 1.5 sacks in the first two games, but has since only gotten one in the last six. Getting to the quarterback would be an ideal way to get back on track.
The Washington Football team held practice at the Inova Sports Performance Center in Ashburn, Virginia, on Nov. 18, 2020. (Photos courtesy of Elijah Walter Griffin Sr./Washington Football Team and Emilee Fails/Washington Football Team)
-- More offensive line shakeup: Offensive tackles Geron Christian Sr. and Cornelius Lucas were not at practice today, so Morgan Moses shifted over to left tackle with David Sharpe playing on the right side. Rivera said "anything is possible" on where Moses will play Sunday, but he switched to the left side midgame against the Detroit Lions. The team is comfortable playing him on either side.
"I think Morgan is a competitor. He's a tough guy," said offensive coordinator Scott Turner. "He's going to do whatever he needs to to get the job done wherever we ask of him. He's really been a good player for us over the course of this season. We needed him obviously in that situation to step up and play left. I thought he did well."
-- Turner sees Alex Smith's comfort level in the offense: Turner can't say for certain what makes Alex Smith so comfortable in the Air Coryell offense. Still, the results show that Smith has been thriving the past two weeks by completing 71% of his passes for 715 yards. Smith's intelligence, Turner said, is helping the entire unit.
"I think you've seen him get better in the three games that he's played with the past week being his best performance for a couple reasons," Turner said. "One, he prepared as a starter all week and then the other one, just the comfort level of being back and getting back knocking that rust off and being ready to play."
-- The importance of situational football: Smith doesn't necessarily want to say the offense got off to a slow start against the Lions. The stats show that Washington moved the ball and got into scoring position. The problem is that the unit didn't score, which resulted in Washington trailing, 24-3. It's a great lesson, Smith said, to show the importance of situational football.
"You get down into the red zone, some of those key third downs -- taking a sack on that first third down was a critical error and cost us points -- [shows] how important that stuff is because the margins are so small in this league. I didn't feel like we started out slow, though. ...I thought we came out, were moving it and were dialed in. The difference in the second half clearly being that we finished those off and found a way to get into the end zone."
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