As is often the case, the Washington Football Team’s stars get the most attention, but lately, lesser-heralded players have been showing up in key moments.
“Let’s be honest, we all wanna be superstars and hotshots. But guess what? The people that do the real work, the ones that make the difference, you don’t see them on TV or on the front page. I’m talking about the day-in, day-outers, the grinders. Come on, man, you know who I’m talking about: The other guys.” – Ice-T (Narrator, The Other Guys)
When we think of who the top playmakers are across the league, what names come to mind? You have the Pat Mahomes, the Dalvin Cooks, the Travis Kelces, the Terry McLaurins. But how much credit do we give to “The Other Guys”?
I’m talking about the guys that aren’t always in the headlines and aren’t the primary options on a team, but come up big when it counts most.
When you think of Peyton Manning, you think of Marvin Harrison, Reggie Wayne, and Edgerrin James. Lest we forget some of Manning’s top targets also included Division III product Pierre Garçon and undrafted TE Marcus Pollard.
You can do the same thing with Tom Brady. Sure, he got the chance to throw to Randy Moss, Josh Gordon, and Antonio Brown, but some of his best targets were “other guys.” Late draft picks like Troy Brown and Julian Edelman, along with undrafted free agents like David Patten and Wes Welker, became top playmakers of the Patriots dynasty.
So yes, every team needs superstars, but a team isn’t a team without a stable group of other guys. For the Washington Football Team, that includes players like Logan Thomas, Cam Sims, and J.D. McKissic, all of whom came up big in the upset win over the previously undefeated Steelers.
According to Over the Cap, those three players take up just 2.26% of the Washington Football Team’s salary cap for 2020, yet they combined for 88% of Washington’s receiving yards in Week 13.
Based on the 2020 cap, Logan Thomas is the 37th-highest paid TE, while his production is that of a top-10 option. While his APV is $3,072,500, his valuation is equivalent to a player making $8,996,000.
You can pull the same stats for Cam Sims and J.D. McKissic. Sims’ APV for 2020 is just $675,000, but his production is equivalent to a player making $2,218,000. McKissic’s APV for 2020 is $1,635,000, but his production is equivalent to a player making $6,563,000.
Even if you don’t understand all those numbers, it sure sounds like a heck of a return on investment if you ask me.
And can you really put a price on moments like these?
That is an undrafted free agent making a Randy Moss-esque play to not only keep the drive alive, but to get the team into range for the go-ahead field goal. That is priceless.
I don’t want to belabor this point, but the combination of Sims, Thomas, and McKissic stepped up in what could be seen as a must-win game, where the odds were heavily stacked against them.
After Antonio Gibson exited with a toe injury, it would have been easy for the Washington Football Team to roll over. And for the first half, it looked like that might have been the case, with Washington falling behind 14-0. But this team continued to fight and come back with a vengeance to snatch the victory from Pittsburgh.
Coach Ron Rivera talked about losing Gibson early and talked about how, despite it being a bit deflating, the team knows they have other playmakers that can step up when needed.
Sure, it’s deflating, but when you have J.D. McKissic and Peyton Barber, who really are a good 1-2 tandem as well, there’s nothing wrong with that. You got the receivers that are making plays, there’s nothing wrong with that. And then the tight end steps up and makes some big plays, so there was a lot of plusses, a lot of positives in today’s game.
Speaking of tight ends making big plays, Logan Thomas has been one heck of a find for this Washington Football Team. Not only did he have a career-high in receptions against Pittsburgh, finishing with nine receptions for 98 yards, but he also caught the game-tying touchdown.
Thomas and Sims were imperative to the win, especially with Terry McLaurin being shut down and held to only two receptions for 14 yards. Alex Smith detailed the team’s flexibility with their weapons below:
[Terry’s] demanding a lot of attention and rightfully so, and we’ve been talking several weeks, if that’s going to happen, [there is] a lot of opportunity elsewhere for all of us staying ready and taking advantage of that opportunity. I felt like both those guys [Sims and Thomas] did today, playing really, really tough football and made some clutch plays for us when we needed them.
McLaurin hadn’t been held to two receptions or less since last December’s game against the Carolina Panthers, which ironically was the game that led to Rivera’s dismissal.
In his press conference on Tuesday, Coach Rivera discussed how the Steelers’ defense focusing so heavily on McLaurin and rolling their coverage to that side of the field created spacing for the team’s other weapons.
The more they respect [McLaurin], the more opportunities are going to be created for his teammates. Terry doesn’t get frustrated by that. He understands that. He goes out and he relishes the challenge of creating opportunties for himself to make plays, but in doing so, he’s creating those opportunties for his teammates.
Another player that took advantage of those extra opportunities was McKissic, who stepped up and filled the receiving gap out of the backfield with Gibson out.
McKissic had 10 receptions for 70 yards against Pittsburgh and is having the best year of his young career, having already surpassed his previous season-high for all-purpose yards.
Throughout this season, the combination of Gibson and McKissic has stymied defenses and helped Washington Football Team offensive coordinator Scott Turner diversify his play-calling.
With stars like McLaurin and Gibson drawing the majority of the opposing defense’s attention, it is imperative that the other guys continue to step up to the challenge and produce.
Sims has taken that on as a personal challenge to drive his game.
We know most teams will try to take Terry away because he’s a great player, a phenomenal player. So, we know, everybody else [has] to step up their game because we feel like they’re not respecting us, so we got to do our thing.
Against Pittsburgh, that’s exactly what the other guys did for the Washington Football Team — stepped up their game. And if opposing defenses continue to sleep on Sims, Thomas, and McKissic, the trio will make them pay.