Can Garçon be a true No. 1 receiver?

Can Garçon be a true No. 1 receiver?
July 9, 2013, 11:15 am
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By Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler

Twenty questions No. 16—Can Pierre Garçon be a true No. 1 receiver?

The 2013 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of training camp, Redskins Insiders Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will be examining the top 20 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.

When Pierre Garçon and Robert Griffin III first took the field together for OTAs last year it was immediately apparent that there would be some chemistry between them. It continued through the preseason and into the first quarter of the regular season. But while catching an 88-yard touchdown pass from Griffin, Garçon suffered a toe injury. He missed six games and was never fully healthy all year, although he managed to play well during the team’s season-ending seven-game winning streak. After an offseason to rehab the toe, can Garçon emerge as the true No. 1 receiver that Griffin and the Redskins need and his contract (5 years, $42.5 million) says he should be?

Rich Tandler: Yes and no. Is he ever going to be a big-time No. 1 receiver like Megatron, Larry Fitzgerald or Andre Johnson? No, he’s not but those guys are rare and you don’t necessarily need one of them to win. In fact, throw Brandon Marshall into the group of monster wide receivers and you have zero rings and just one Super Bowl appearance (Fitzgerald). But can he be good enough to take away defensive attention from the other receivers and still be productive despite having the extra coverage? Yes, he’s fast enough and athletic enough to do that. So can he be a true No. 1, a mythical creature on most NFL teams? No, but he can be about a No. 1½ and that should be good enough for Griffin and the Redskins.

Tarik El-Bashir: To me, in order to earn ‘big-time No. 1’ receiver status, you’ve got to rank among the NFL’s top-15 in yards. When healthy, Garçon has the tools to change a game. After all, the Redskins went 9-1 with him in the lineup. I’m just not sure he’s going to see enough balls in the Shanahans’ run-first scheme to put up elite numbers. The ‘Skins ranked 30th in pass attempts last season and Garçon, in 10 games, was on pace for 107 targets. For comparison’s sake, yardage leader Calvin Johnson was targeted 205 times. Victor Cruz, 15th in yards, was targeted 143 times. Overall, the top-15 receivers in yards were targeted an average of 155.5 times in ‘12. If the Redskins commit to giving Garçon more opportunity, sure, he could put up elite stats. But until then, he’ll likely have to settle for being a No. 1½. 

Upcoming on 20 questions

  • Question 15 tomorrow: Who (if anyone) will be the third QB?
  • Question 14 Thursday: What will the running back depth chart look like behind Alfred Morris?
  • Question 13 Friday: Is London Fletcher still an every down linebacker?