Since the beginning of the 2019 season, the Washington Football Team has only been victorious four times in 20 tries. Only the Bengals have fewer wins over that span. There's no way to sugarcoat it: Washington has been a really bad football team.
However, over that 20-game stretch, the Burgundy and Gold have found themselves a true No. 1 wide receiver in Terry McLaurin.
McLaurin's rookie season in 2019 is well documented by now. The third-round pick finished his debut season with 58 catches for 919 yards, just seven short of breaking the franchise rookie receiving yards record. McLaurin, who hauled in seven touchdowns on the year, accomplished all of this while having a revolving door at quarterback and two different head coaches.
Through the first quarter of the 2020 campaign, McLaurin has proved that his rookie season was no fluke. As Week 4 comes to a close, the Ohio State product ranks fifth in receiving yards and second in yards after the catch, trailing only Saints stud Alvin Kamara.
Locally, McLaurin's talent is well known. Chad Dukes of 106.7 The Fan summed it up best on Monday during his daily show, Chad Dukes versus The World.
"He has been on nothing but putrid offenses since he's been here, and he's been nothing but tremendous," Dukes said. "I can't even imagine if he's playing with [Joe] Burrow or Russell Wilson or anybody you think is a young, capable quarterback, what his career numbers would look like."
But, while the numbers prove that McLaurin is quickly entering the NFL's elite category of pass-catchers, he's rarely considered to be in that tier by the national media.
That begs the question: is McLaurin getting the national attention he deserves?
Simply put, the answer is no.
With four games under his belt, McLaurin is currently on pace for over 100 receptions and 1,500-plus receiving yards. If McLaurin is able to accomplish that feat -- albeit a difficult one -- he'll join Isaac Bruce as the only players in NFL history to have topped both of those marks in either their first or second seasons in the NFL, according to Pro Football Reference.
What's even more impressive about the wide receiver's early-season success is when you consider the cornerbacks McLaurin has faced through the first four weeks.
In Week 1, No. 17 was shadowed by All-Pro cornerback Darius Slay. In Week 2, he drew the assignment of future Hall of Famer Patrick Peterson. In Week 3, he squared off against Pro Bowler Denzel Ward before facing a pair of All-Pro DBs this past Sunday in Baltimore's Marcus Peters and Marlon Humphrey.
What happened? McLaurin produced against them all.
McLaurin isn't a one-dimensional receiver, either. The pass-catcher has shown his ability to go up and grab the contested catch, but has proved he's most dangerous with the ball already in his hands.
The second-year pass-catcher's 200 yards after the catch lead all wideouts in the NFL. His longest reception on the season is 39 yards, one that came on a late slot fade against Baltimore this past Sunday.
Haskins has targeted McLaurin an average of 9.75 times per game. It still doesn't feel like nearly enough.
Advanced analytics show that McLaurin's breakthrough is similar to Odell Beckham Jr.'s with the Giants, or more recently, Michael Thomas' with the Saints.
Both of those pass-catchers have had the luxury of beginning their careers with likely future Hall of Fame quarterbacks in Eli Manning and Drew Brees. McLaurin, on the other hand, has already caught passes from three different signal-callers in his career, none close to the quality of Brees or Manning.
So, what can McLaurin do to help garner the national attention he deserves?
The easiest answer would be for Washington to win. Despite his incredible rookie season, McLaurin's team still went 3-13 a season ago. There's a reason the Burgundy and Gold don't have any prime-time matchups in 2020, excluding a Thanksgiving afternoon contest in Dallas.
Other than that, there's really no simple answer. But if McLaurin continues to produce at the rate he has, it won't be much longer before he starts getting the respect nationally that he deserves.
For now, McLaurin will just have to put his head down, clip on his chinstrap and get back to work. And if you know just a little bit about the 25-year-old's team-first personality, he has absolutely no problem doing just that.