The Washington Football Team should have the best defense in the NFL in 2021, but could find limited success because of quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, says NFL Network analyst Marc Ross.
Ross, a two-time Super Bowl champion personnel executive for the Giants, says Washington's defense has only gotten better since finishing second in yards (304.6) and fourth in points (20.6) allowed per game last season.
"I thought the addition of William Jackson in free agency was one of the most underrated great moves in free agency, a guy that you just put out there," Ross told The Sports Junkies on Wednesday. "There's no such thing in my mind as a lockdown corner, but at least this guy's gonna compete with the No. 1 corner every week and it makes it easier for the rest of the secondary. With those guys up front, he'll just have to make plays."
Ross also called linebacker Jamin Davis, who was selected 19th overall by Washington, "maybe my favorite defensive player in the whole draft."
"[He's] a guy who I thought was the most explosive, productive not just linebacker, but player, on the defensive side, who I think is really just a perfect fit for the defense," Ross said. "And you know Ron Rivera, his past with Luke Kuechly and Thomas Davis, and the production and excellence that came out of those linebackers. I think Jamin Davis is going to be the Defensive Rookie of the Year and just take that defense to another level."
As strong as Washington is defensively, Ross was not a fan of the decision to sign journeyman quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to lead the offense, dismissing the notion that Fitzpatrick is somehow playing the best football of his career at 38 years old.
"This is kind of like a common sense thing with this Ryan Fitzpatrick situation where people say he's playing the best football of his career," Ross said. "Well what does that mean? It means he's average. Because the best he's ever been is average."
"Has he had a couple 400-yard games once or twice per season? Absolutely," he conceded. "But the entirety of his every season and every career is mediocrity. If Ryan Fitzpatrick had a bad personality and nobody loved him, he'd have been out of the NFL a while ago. But because he has this wonderful, jovial personality and everybody loves him, he keeps getting these chances."
"Well, why has this guy been on nine teams?" he wondered. "And why has he never been to the playoffs? And why does he have 30 less wins than losses? So you just have to base it on the common sense there, the facts. This is nothing personal; it's just the facts about Ryan Fitzpatrick."
"And if you talk to people who have had Ryan Fitzpatrick on their teams, people from the other eight teams he's been on, you'll get more of an indication as well about what you're going to get out of Ryan," Ross continued. "Even last year, where this was supposed to be some of his best football, it really was just a game or two where he did what he usually does. But, ultimately, he gets benched and he loses games. So the decision that Washington went into this year, where there's just no precedent for something like this happening and being successful."