In Ron Rivera's first year as the head coach of the Washington Football Team in 2020, the 59-year-old led the franchise to an improbable NFC East title, the franchise's first division championship in five years.
Now, one year later, ESPN analyst and former NFL general manager Louis Riddick thinks the NFC East, once again, is Washington's to lose.
What makes Washington's NFC East title from 2020 impressive is the fact that they won the division, albeit a weak one, while starting four different quarterbacks during the season. Competent play at the sport's most important position usually leads to success, not a quarterback carousel like the Burgundy and Gold had last year.
This offseason, Washington added veteran Ryan Fitzpatrick in free agency, who should be an upgrade at the position. Fitzpatrick has played some of the best football of his career the past two seasons with the Dolphins, something Washington hopes will carry over to the nation's capital.
For Riddick, the addition of Fitzpatrick to Washington's roster is a big reason why he thinks they will repeat as division champions, as the veteran should be able to "give them competent quarterback play -- not superstar, just top 15, 16 [quarterback play]."
After praising the addition of Fitzpatrick, Riddick then went up and down Washington's roster to point out that outside of quarterback, the team has several talented players on both sides of the football.
"The truth is this: they got players all over the place. They got players at wide receiver, they got two good running backs. As long as the offensive tackles hold up on the offensive line, they're good to go," Riddick said.
Fitzpatrick wasn't the only major offensive piece Washington added this offseason, as they inked wideout Curtis Samuel to a three-year deal in free agency and then signed slot receiver Adam Humphries one week later. Then in the third round of the NFL Draft, Washington selected UNC receiver Dyami Brown, a player who had back-to-back 1,000-yard seasons for the Tar Heels and was one of the best deep threats in all of college football.
Of course, though, Washington's biggest strength is on the defensive side of the ball, particularly their defensive line behind the likes of Chase Young, Montez Sweat, Daron Payne and Jonathan Allen.
"Defensively, they got some bad boys up front in the front seven," Riddick said. "Now, they've added some players in the backend, too."
In 2020, Washington's defense, in its first year under Jack Del Rio, finished top five in almost every major team statistical category. Now, with the additions of William Jackson III, Jamin Davis, Bobby McCain and others, the unit could, and should, be even better this fall.
"Washington is for real, as much as people maybe don't want to admit that," Riddick said.