On the field, the most pressing question facing the Washington Football Team ahead of the 2021 season is: How much of an impact will Ryan Fitzpatrick have on the club's offense?
Well, according to Jon Bostic, Fitzpatrick's positive influence was felt immediately during the Burgundy and Gold's offseason practices. Almost literally immediately, too.
During a recent interview on SiriusXM NFL Radio, the linebacker explained what he noticed early on about the unit under Fitzpatrick's leadership.
"You can see just how much of a step that offense has taken already," Bostic began.
Then, Bostic told the following story.
"First day, we were out there, first rep out there, as soon as we got back to the huddle, I told Cole [Holcomb], 'Don't try and cheat to the checkdown, don't try and cheat reading his eyes.'
"Cole was like, 'Huh, what do you mean?' And I said, 'You'll see.'"
"He had tried to jump one route and [Fitzpatrick] threw the ball the other way and he was like, 'Dang, I've never seen that before.' And I said, 'Yeah, as soon as you start getting some of these veteran quarterbacks, there are some guys you can't cheat to the checkdown on. You've got to make sure that hand comes off the ball.'"
Now, of course, there was no way Bostic was going to pick up SiriusXM's call, hop on for a chat and just trash the key guy across the line of scrimmage from him. That'd be an exceedingly dumb thing to do, and Bostic isn't dumb.
However, when a defender who's been in the league since 2013 goes in depth about a peer's style of play and sounds so energized when doing so, it's worth something. Bostic could've thrown out the typical platitudes, yet he didn't.
In fact, he kept going.
"I think he's really, really going to help those guys out," Bostic said, referring to Washington's pass catchers. "I can start to see how he's improved how they're running certain routes."
In 2020, Washington's young skill players weren't shy about expressing how confident they felt when Alex Smith was directing things, because Smith was able to get them into precisely the right positions to succeed. As receiver Cam Sims once put it, Smith gave the offense "the answers to the test."
Fortunately, Fitzpatrick should bring a similar vibe with him as he replaces Smith in terms of savvy and knowledge of the scheme — but hopefully with more aggressiveness downfield, too.
"I'm very pleased with where we are on the offensive side of the ball and happy with how we're growing as a football team," Bostic concluded.
Fitzpatrick and Co. must ensure they continue to trend upward, because showing signs of promise in the summer only matters if those signs carry over beyond Week 1. But at least, in the eyes of one starting linebacker, things are heading in a very positive direction.