Commanders

This should be Washington's best group of WRs since 2016

Commanders

Heading into the 2020 season, the Washington Football Team's group of skill players was among the worst in the NFL.

Fortunately, with how the past few weeks of free agency has unfolded, no one can make that case for a second-straight year. And that's largely due to what's happened at wide receiver.

On Thursday, Washington signed 27-year-old veteran Adam Humphries, and Humphries will likely spend most of his time on offense in the slot. The electric Curtis Samuel, another new member of the squad, can line up there but also play the outside, and, of course, Terry McLaurin has proven that he can do anything that's asked of him.

When you put those three together, it certainly appears that Ron Rivera has assembled the best trio of wideouts the franchise has seen since 2016, when DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garçon and Jamison Crowder combined for 2,893 yards under Jay Gruden.

That's pretty neat, huh?

Whether McLaurin, Samuel and Humphries can match the figure that Jackson, Garçon and Crowder posted remains to be seen — and odds are they probably won't — but that's really not the main point here.

What matters the most is that Washington, quite simply, ought to be able to win games thanks to its offense, as opposed to in spite of its offense, in 2021. The days of hoping that Josh Doctson will finally break out, wishing that someone like Maurice Harris would improve or just banking on McLaurin to do everything on his own should no longer exist now that the unit is much more well-rounded.

 

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That goes beyond the main receivers, too.

Logan Thomas went from a long-shot project at tight end to one that can be counted on a consistent basis, as he skipped about three to four steps in his development. 

Antonio Gibson and JD McKissic are dual threats in the backfield, running backs who can knife through a hole with speed or make a difference with their hands.

And Cam Sims, who showed promise but ultimately was out of his element as a No. 2 target, can now slide into a more appropriate role, Kelvin Harmon can ease his way back into the lineup after his torn ACL and Antonio Gandy-Golden can come along at a more relaxed pace.

Before this story gets bogged down by too much late-March optimism, there are some things that must happen before Scott Turner's crew become regulars in the end zone, and that starts with Ryan Fitzpatrick. Pretty much every positive word above won't pan out unless Fitzpatrick's stint under center goes well.

Samuel, meanwhile, will have to continue his season-to-season growth in a new city and that's no sure thing, even if he'll do so with familiar coaches. As for Humphries, he demonstrated in Tampa that he has chemistry with Fitzpatrick, yet that chemistry won't mean much if he's on the sidelines like he was for a chunk of his Tennessee tenure. 

Regardless, this all goes back to the fact that, finally, Washington has pieces on offense again. Do those pieces have to perform come Week 1? Duh. But merely being able to look at their collection of playmakers and not having to wonder who's, well, going to make the plays feels like serious progress.