Football Team

McLaurin's a star, but Fitzpatrick should elevate him further

Football Team

As is the norm for any quarterback move in Washington, the reaction to Ryan Fitzpatrick's reported signing has been mixed. While the move has many pros and is comfortably on the cheaper side of passer-related transactions, not everyone is sold on what the veteran can do for the 2020 NFC East champions.

One player who should have unbridled enthusiasm over the addition, though, is Terry McLaurin.

McLaurin is already a supremely-respected receiver who put up more than 1,100 yards last season despite catching passes from an unsteady rotation of signal-callers and having no legitimate help on the other side of him. Overall, his production through two pro campaigns has been top-notch in unenviable circumstances.

And with Fitzpatrick, it should get even better.

Related: Chad Johnson's bold prediction for McLaurin after Fitzpatrick signing

As Pro Football Focus' Ian Hartitz laid out in this tweet, when the 38-year-old logs at least 10 starts, he peppers his top target with, well, targets. Tons and tons of them.

Wideouts like T.J. Houshmandzadeh in Cincinnati, Stevie Johnson in Buffalo, Andre Johnson in Houston, Brandon Marshall in New York and DeVante Parker in Miami all saw at least 125 throws come their way, with a few of them far exceeding that total.

It's not like that'll be new to McLaurin — in 2020, Washington's QBs went in his direction more than 130 times — but it does affirm that, as long as Fitzpatrick is in the lineup, No. 17 will need to make sure his gloves are on and ready to work.

 

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That isn't the only number that points to McLaurin continuing to ascend, however.

WIth Fitzpatrick running the show — and what a show that could be! — Scott Turner will feel more comfortable trying to get McLaurin the ball deep. 

Per PFF's Nick Akridge, Fitzpatrick went 36-for-86 on throws of 20-plus yards during his two-season stint with the Dolphins. By comparison, Washington's slew of guys under center across the same stretch combined for just 35 such completions on 111 attempts.

So, McLaurin is going to be the wily quarterback's primary option on a majority of dropbacks, and on a lot of those dropbacks, McLaurin's long speed and ability to make difficult grabs all over the secondary will be emphasized more often. Splendid.

Then, there's the anecdotal stuff to consider, too. McLaurin made some impressive strides in 2020 when it came to lining up all over the formation and delivering on a more consistent level, things that he should simply keep improving.

Also, if Fitzpatrick can hold the starting gig down for — and this is a crazy concept — the entire year, that'll be a basic perk that the rising star has yet to enjoy in the league.

Since Washington stole McLaurin in the 2018 third round, watching him contribute on offense has been legitimately joyful. Yet now that Fitzpatrick is on his side, that experience has the chance to further develop, which is so exciting to ponder.