At 1-5, this is usually the point in the season when the Washington Football Team would turn its focus to marginal progress from its young players and look toward the future. However, in homage to the overarching theme of 2020, things are weird in the NFC East.
Despite currently holding position for the No. 2 overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft through six weeks, Washington is still in contention to win its division due to a poor showing by all four teams. Head coach Ron Rivera has mentioned consistently that he's still going for the title.
For fans, it can be hard to decide what to root for in this upside-down season. Seeing your team in the playoffs is always appreciated, but is it worth risking the future when it's clear the team isn't very good? ESPN's Mina Kimes doesn't think so.
“To me, if you’re a Washington fan, I’m not trying to be dark here but I would much rather see improvement from a few specific core players and be in a position to draft the quarterback of the future then win the division at 6-10 and get crushed in the playoffs," Kimes said on the Washington Football Talk Podcast.
As Kimes alludes to, winning the division and reaching the playoffs in 2020 comes with the highly-expected outcome that no NFC East team has the tools to compete with the other teams that will play in January. They just aren't at the same level, and if divisions weren't a thing, no team would play the 17th game.
So, while making the playoffs can be a success even without a deep run, representing the NFC East in 2020 makes the achievement a lot less special and dignified and it will include an early exit.
In turn, going all-in for the playoffs would at the very least force Ron Rivera to slightly put aside the development of young players. Washington's roster has so much youth that will still play no matter the situation, but when wins come above all else, the leash for growing pains shortens greatly. Kimes believes the risk vs. reward there doesn't truly pay off.
Additionally, as Kimes explained, wins will take away Washington's standing in the NFL Draft. With a lot of teams hovering toward the bottom, it may only take a few wins to slip from No. 2 to No. 7. That could be the difference in getting one of the star passers in 2021. Considering Dwayne Haskins was benched and Kyle Allen hasn't looked great, the probability of Washington needing help at the position continues to increase.
Now, it's important to note that just because Washington wants to win, doesn't mean it will. Performances up to this date don't make any Sunday an easy victory. Therefore, development and a high draft pick could still come even with Rivera's approach.
Yet, if the wins do come, Kimes has noted that it may not be as great as it seems. The 2020 NFC East title doesn't have much to it and will fade quickly. The problems Washington faces would still exist.