“[Samuel] gives this crime more juice, ”wrote ESPN analyst and former Washington security officer Matt Bowen on Twitter shortly after Samuel signed the $ 34.5 million three-year deal. “[He can] attack the center of the field. [He has] Run according to the fishing ability. And Turner can plan touches for Samuel because of his versatility. “
The tricky part in projecting his role for the season ahead is that Samuel’s positional flexibility has manifested itself in two different ways. For the first three years of his NFL career, former Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner, Scott’s father, used Samuel off-site about 60 percent of the time. In 2020, the new Panthers coordinator Joe Brady used it in about 60 percent of the cases in the slot. The value of Samuel’s versatility is obvious, but Scott Turner now has to answer the question of whether he views Samuel primarily as an external receiver or primarily a slot.
In the past week, two pieces of evidence suggested that Samuel will play outside more. Samuel said during his introductory press conference that he was “excited to expand the field a bit more” in Washington, and then the team signed slot recipient Adam Humphries. 27-year-old Humphries is not guaranteed to occupy the slot all day – injuries have forced him to miss 13 games in the last two seasons – but a set of Humphries with three receivers in the slot with Samuel and Terry McLaurin stood up the outside appears to be a natural fit.
Samuel said he doesn’t care about his position, which he signed here, because he wanted to be on an offensive “that can use my abilities”.
“Not many teams have versatile people who can run the ball, catch the ball, things like that,” he said. “I just wanted to get into a system where I knew someone could use whatever I do on the field.”
Regardless of his primary role, Samuel will be instrumental in improving a thin receiving corps that had problems even last season, even if the instability in the quarterback position was taken into account. Washington’s wideouts averaged 1.24 yards per run and scored eight touchdowns, the worst and second worst rates in the league, respectively.
Perhaps the most worrying point was the lack of explosive games. Turner’s Air Coryell-based vertical system relies on chunk games to move the ball down and score points. Last season, however, according to Sportradar, receivers in Washington only had 63 receptions 16 or more meters, the third lowest sum in the league. McLaurin had 25 explosive games, nearly 40 percent of the team’s total, and no one else reached half of them.
Samuel addresses this problem; He is a homemade threat with a speed of 4.31 seconds and 40 meters. Last year, his five explosive rushes tied him first among all receivers, and his 28 explosive games total finished seventh, one place behind Tyreek Hill, the star of the Kansas City Chiefs. This means that regardless of Samuel McLaurin’s position exonerated, the other recipients on the list – including Humphries, Cam Sims, and Steven Sims Jr. – will be supplemented and defense will be an issue.
“[Our speed] frightens many defenses, ”said Samuel. “Many defenses are reproduced. [We have] a versatile return [Antonio Gibson]So there are unlimited possibilities. Terry can carry the ball. I can. There are just so many different things that we can do about this offense. “
Samuel’s success last year adds a twist to the question of whether to play more out of the slot or out. His move inward last year caused a huge drop in his average target depth – from 13.3 meters in the last two years to 7.1 last season, according to NFL Next Gen Stats – but it paid off. He set career highs in a variety of categories including catches (77) and yards (851).
Although his goals of more than 20 airfields have dropped from 30 in 2019 to 13 in 2020, according to TruMedia, he still showed last year that he is more than capable of parting with the field of coverage. He has caught nine of these deep targets, including four in the past two weeks, and has maintained his reputation as a receiver capable of attacking the defense vertically.
Beyond the X and O, Samuel fits into Washington’s long-term plans with the recipient. The deal he signed is about the market value of a No. 2 wideout that keeps Washington able to sign McLaurin, who is seen as the centerpiece of the team’s rebuilding, for a major extension before his post-season contract Expires in 2022. Those little things, like pairing complementary recipients who could stick together for the next few seasons (it doesn’t hurt that McLaurin and Samuel are friends and former college teammates), are part of Coach Ron Rivera’s vision for a “sustainable profit culture” has stressed since he was hired.
But that’s all projection for now. Washington must show that the tandem can work, unlock this offense and deliver explosive games. For his part, Samuel seems confident that this can happen regardless of where he positions himself.
“No matter where you put me, I’ll go out there and do plays,” he said. “Playing in the slot is a little different from playing outdoors because you have a little more leeway and can be a little more patient. [but] I don’t really care. I look forward to this offense and where we will go. “