Getting To Know The Chargers Opponent: Washington Football Team

Steven Haglund
Ryan Fitzpatrick commands the Washington offense.

Getting To Know The Chargers Opponent: Washington Football Team

The Los Angeles Chargers open up their 2021 season on the road this year as they head to FedEx Field to take on the Washington Football Team. The Bolts are one-point favorites, which points to the Vegas insiders viewing this game as a toss-up. Let’s get to know the Football Team, shall we?

2020 Season In Review

The Football Team made big strides as a team last year and improved upon their 2019 season to the tune of a 7-9 season in 2020. Head Coach Ron Rivera led a spirited effort that resulted in an NFC (L)East division title, despite battling cancer and dealing with a less than ideal quarterback situation that featured starts from Dwayne Haskins, Kyle Allen, and 2020 Comeback Player of the Year Alex Smith

They came up short but gave eventual Super Bowl Champion Tampa Bay everything they could handle in the wildcard round, led by their fourth quarterback Taylor Heinicke and some stellar play by Defensive Rookie of the Year Chase Young and company.

Led by Young, Montez Sweat, Landon Collins, Terry McLaurin, Antonio Gibson, and Logan Thomas the Football Team has a very talented young core that presents a positive outlook towards their future.

Key Additions And Departures

Washington had few key, if any, departures that will actually hurt the team’s outlook for this season and beyond. They released the disappointing Haskins during the season, and Smith retired but they added journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick via free agency. They lost cornerback Ronald Darby to the Broncos in free agency but were able to find an upgrade in William Jackson who signed with them after playing with the Bengals for the last few seasons. Finally, they released long-time starting offensive tackle Morgan Moses but signed Charles Leno from the Bears. 

The Football Team clearly had a mission in the offseason and it was to upgrade their passing attack. Fitzpatrick should be an upgrade over the previous quarterbacks and they also went out and added Curtis Samuel and Adam Humphries to bolster their receiving core. Samuel has been injured throughout training camp but once he gets healthy, he will add a dynamic dimension that they have been sorely missing in recent years.

They also had what appears to be a very good draft class this year. Samuel Cosmi will start opposite Leno and is one of four draft picks for Washington that will likely be immediate and key contributors this season. First-round linebacker Jamin Davis, third-rounders cornerback Benjamin St-Juste, and wide receiver Dyami Brown make up the rest of what should be a very good rookie class. Each of these rookies should supplement the veterans they added very effectively. 

2021 Outlook

Washington made several good moves in the offseason and will look to build upon their 2020 success. The Dallas Cowboys are considered the favorites to win the division this year, but the Football Team isn’t far behind. Bovada has Dallas at +120 and Washington at +220, which is the closest margin of any divisional odds outside of Baltimore and Cleveland. Bovada has Washington at +4000 to win the Super Bowl, and +1800 to win the NFC. 

Vegas is expecting another solid season for Rivera’s club, and they should be in playoff contention. The defense, led by Young and Sweat, will lead what should be a dominant defense in 2021. One that should keep them competitive in every game this year.

The bigger questions are on the offensive side of things. While Fitzpatrick should stabilize the short-term future of their quarterback situation, it’s clear that he does not offer the same kind of ceiling as other quarterbacks in the NFC. He is unquestionably more talented than Haskins, Allen, and post-injury Smith. However, for all the good he could bring to the franchise we all know that Fitzpatrick can also throw teams out of games from time to time and that’s a big deal in a division with razor-thin margins.

They should be able to survive this season, and maybe even the next with him at quarterback, but they’ll have to find their long-term solution sooner rather than later if they are going to make that leap towards being a Super Bowl contender.

History Against The Chargers

The Chargers and Football Team have only played eleven times, and Washington has the series lead with seven victories over Los Angeles. However, the Chargers have won four of their last five matchups. Including a dominant offensive performance in their last matchup in 2017 in Carson.

Receivers Keenan Allen and Tyrell Williams combined for 243 of Philip Rivers 318 passing yards. Rivers threw two touchdowns, one to Williams and another to tight end Hunter Henry. Running backs Melvin Gordon and Austin Ekeler combined for 127 yards and one touchdown (Gordon) on the ground. The Chargers ended up winning 30-13.

This is a very intriguing matchup on paper, with tons of get-your-popcorn-ready worthy storylines. Our team will have you covered leading up to the game and after so be sure to follow along!

Ryan Fitzpatrick commands the Washington offense. Via Jorge Martin