The Washington Football Team improbably won the NFC East division on the back of its dominant defense, a feat that was even more impressive when considering that Washington started four different quarterbacks last season, too.
Entering the 2021 offseason, head coach Ron Rivera and his staff knew they had to get better on the offensive side of the football. Washington signed veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to solidify the position for the short-term, a move that many expect should -- at the very least -- be an upgrade over the club's QB play last fall.
The addition of Fitzpatrick has led many experts to believe Washington can, and should, repeat as division champions. ESPN's Marcus Spears does not think the move directly correlates to winning the NFC East again, however.
"I'm not willing to say that Ryan Fitzpatrick is the common denominator between the Washington Football Team dominating this [division], when we all know the best quarterback resides in Dallas," Spears said Monday on NFL Live.
Spears, a former Dallas defensive tackle, is talking about Cowboys star Dak Prescott, who played in just five games last fall before suffering a gruesome season-ending ankle injury.
Washington didn't face Prescott in 2020, who has a career 7-1 record against the Burgundy and Gold in his career, too. Rivera's club swept the Cowboys last fall, the first time Washington accomplished such since 2012.
Prescott is undoubtedly the best quarterback in the NFC East, but that also doesn't mean Dallas will be the NFC East favorites. As NFL Live co-host Mina Kimes was quick to point out, the Cowboys' defense was record-setting bad in 2020. In fact, they allowed 36 points per game in the five contests that Prescott did play in. Dallas went 2-3 over that span.
As for Fitzpatrick himself, though, Spears doesn't think he's seen the consistency from him that makes the analyst believe he can lead Washington to another division title.
"Ryan Fitzpatrick's last full season was 2015. He played nine games last year, went 4-3 [as a starter]," Spears said. "It was nothing spectacular, but I think that we love this guy so much we want to see him be successful no matter what. I love the guy. I want him to play quarterback for my team, seeing the things that he's done. I'm just not willing, I'm not as bullish on Ryan Fitzpatrick as everybody else."
Spears did point out that in Miami, Fitzpatrick was thrown into a difficult situation where he knew the Dolphins were going to try and get 2020 first-round pick Tua Tagovailoa action at some point, despite how well he might have played.
But again, it's that level of consistency that Fitzpatrick has failed to show that makes Spears weary about the veteran QB's potential as a full-time starter once again in Washington.
"The level of consistency that he's going to need to play with, he just hasn't shown that in a long time. It's been up, it's been down," Spears said.
If Washington gets just average play from Fitzpatrick, the team's defense is good enough that they should easily contend for a playoff spot. But even if Fitzpatrick comes out and plays well for Washington, Spears doesn't think the gap between them and the rest of the division is that great.
"We're talking about the Washington Football Team like they're going to come out and drub everybody in the NFC East," Spears said. "I don't believe that to be the case."