'Skins Need Another Receiver To Complement Pierre Garçon
Last season, three figures were given the majority of the credit for the Washington Redskins' turn-around year: QB Robert Griffin III, RB Alfred Morris and head coach Mike Shanahan. Statistics used to back up those men as being key figures to the Redskins' successful season: a 102.4 passer rating for RGIII, 1,613 yards rushing for Morris and 10 wins for Shanahan.
Now, while they all deserve praise, there is one additional figure with an impressive stat attached to his name that is being overlooked: Pierre Garçon. When on the field for the 'Skins last season, they went 9-1.
With rookie sensations RGIII and Alfred Morris bursting onto the scene last year, it was easy to overlook other impactful players such as Garçon. In 2012, Garçon played in 10 games and recorded 44 receptions, 633 yards and four touchdowns. While these aren't eye-popping numbers, they did come in 10 games, which, as previously mentioned, resulted in nine wins (the only loss coming to a NFC Championship finalist Atlanta Falcon team). Garçon's impact could also be seen in some of the big plays he played a key role in last year, such as his 88-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the New Orleans Saints in Week 1 or his 59-yard receiving touchdown on Thanksgiving Day against division-rival Dallas (both wins).
So far this season, Garçon has played in all four games and accumulated 29 catches for 339 yards and two touchdowns. Garçon was limited to 10 games last year due to a plantar plate tear in his right foot. Missing games or not playing a full season has become a theme throughout the receiver’s short six-year career. In his rookie year, he did not start a single game. In his sophomore season, he started 14 games due to an injury to WR Anthony Gonzalez and missed the last two games after he sustained a hand injury. The following season, Garçon started 13 games and missed two due to inactivity. In 2011 with the Colts, he finally played a full season, starting 16 games. However, QB Peyton Manning was out all year. Despite not having a strong quarterback, Garçon managed 70 catches for 947 yards and six touchdowns — his best season to date.
Now Garçon, seemingly for the first time in his career, has all three factors for success in place: no injuries (fingers-crossed), a talented quarterback and a starting spot secured. Having one of these components missing in each of his first five years has hampered him from having a breakout season. Last year, his impact was palpable, even though he only played in 10 games while nursing an injury. Also, his 2011 season with the Colts was impressive even with the likes of Dan Orlovsky, Curtis Painter and a very old Kerry Collins throwing to him. If all goes well, Garçon should finally break the 1,000-yard mark this season. Currently, he is on track for 116 catches, 1,356 yards and eight touchdowns.
Taking a look at Washington's roster, you notice that Garçon, realistically, is the only dangerous target. Besides him, the other listed receivers are Josh Morgan, Leonard Hankerson, Aldrick Robinson and Santana Moss. Morgan, who has 2,389 career yards in six seasons, hasn't had a season with more than 52 catches or 700 yards — not very impressive. Hankerson, a breakout hopeful, hasn't lived up to the hype as he has only started 10 games and caught 66 passes in three years. Second-year receiver Robinson is barely worth mentioning as he only has 12 career catches. As for Moss, a longtime Redskin with almost 10,000 career yards receiving, he only started one game last year. Father Time seems to be tapping him on the shoulder.
In a pass-dominant league that seems to be becoming more pass-heavy by the year, the Redskins will need at least one additional wide receiver to complement Garçon. The other receivers aren't getting the job done, and they don't appear to be any closer to doing so in the near future. If NFL teams chose to, they could focus on covering Garçon and no other receiver would be able to pick up the needed receptions. RGIII simply won't have another target to distribute the ball to. Garçon is a key component in the Redskins offense.
Garçon is 6-0, 212 pounds, and was considered a deep threat in Indianapolis. He can stretch the field vertically and also get yards after the catch. Given his size, skill set and the direction the league is heading in, Washington should try to add two types of receivers. The first is a tall, big-catch type of receiver that can get above coverage and pull down key catches in the end zone or on third down. The other receiver they should go after is a slot receiver. This wideout should be suited for making grabs in the middle of the field and gaining important yards after-the-catch. A prime (and obvious) example of this type of receiver is Denver's Wes Welker (imagine having a "Welker" on Washington).
Two free agent receivers that the Redskins could consider adding are Steve Breaston and Braylon Edwards. Breaston spent several seasons with the Arizona Cardinals and had a short stint with the Kansas City Chiefs. While in Arizona, he recorded one 1,000 yard season alongside teammates Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin, who also eclipsed 1,000 yards each that year. Edwards has played majority of his career with the Cleveland Browns and New York Jets. His most notable season was in 2007 when he caught 80 passes for 1,289 yards and 16 touchdowns.