New coach. New offense. New defense. No fans. No name. Global pandemic.
Just about any prediction this year qualifies as a bold prediction, but specific to the Washington Football Team, so little is known that it's almost easy to get bold.
So why wait?
5 Bold Predictions for 2020
- Antonio Gibson leads the team in touches - This seemed much more bold before Adrian Peterson was cut, but I wrote it then too. Gibson won't lead the team in catches, and he won't lead the running backs in catches either (that will be J.D. McKissic), but Gibson will dominate in catches and carries. Don't expect Christian McCaffrey numbers, 400 touches is bananas, but Gibson could get to 250 touches. Maybe 300. That's wild.
- Jimmy Moreland leads the team in INTs - Kendall Fuller was the big-money free agent signing this year, Landon Collins was the big-money free agent signing in 2019, but Moreland will grab the most interceptions this year. Sure, he's a 7th-round pick out of JMU, but Moreland knows how to find the football. Every coach that has watched him in Washington - from Jay Gruden to Ron Rivera - always highlights Moreland's "nose" for the ball. It's real. He might give up some big plays because of his aggressive nature, but Rivera prides himself on putting corners that have vision into the right spots. Jimmy has 20/20.
- Alex Smith will play - Look, I think Dwayne Haskins will have a good year in 2020 and prove himself to be the long-term quarterback for Washington. But injuries happen in the NFL, and so do blowouts. I don't know the scenario that gets Alex Smith back on the field, but considering everything he's overcome - 17 surgeries and a near leg amputation - this story doesn't just end with Smith on the sideline. It ends with Smith on the field.
- Terry McLaurin doesn't lead the team in receiving TDs - This is just playing the numbers. Last year McLaurin scored seven touchdowns on 58 catches, which means roughly every eight catches went for a TD. Odell Beckham had four TDs on 74 catches. Julio Jones caught six TDs on 99 catches. Those numbers suggest a touchdown regression for McLaurin, even if the catches soar like I expect. Here's the other part - offensive coordinator Scott Turner's system calls for a ton of passes to the running backs, and Gibson and McKissic look poised for that role. Those are red zone looks going away from McLaurin. And it might just be a training camp thing, but tight end Logan Thomas also looked like a red zone threat with a strong connection to Haskins. I think McLaurin gets over 1,000 receiving yards and over 70 catches, but TDs don't always flow to the top wideout.
- Chase Young wins Defensive Rookie of the Year - Weirdly this might not even qualify as bold. Young is a monster and is poised for a monster year. Washington fans seem nervous to embrace high expectations for the second overall pick. Don't be. Young was the second overall pick for a reason.
Bonus: Washington lands 4 Pro Bowlers - Landon Collins, Chase Young, Tress Way and Terry McLaurin all play in the Pro Bowl. Some will be voted in and some will be alternates, but who cares, this is a Pro Bowl prediction before a game even gets played.