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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

I was listening to the radio last weekend and the topic of the Redskins’ team needs for this offseason came up. One of the hosts said that wide receiver must be a need because the Redskins didn’t have any receivers break 650 yards receiving (Pierre Garçon led the team with 633) or 50 catches (Josh Morgan led with 48).

But if you just look at the raw numbers you get a distorted picture of the productivity of the team’s group of receivers. You have to consider the fact that only NFL two teams attempted fewer passes than the 442 the Redskins threw in 2012. The NFL average for attempts was 556, about 25 percent more than the number the Redskins threw.

While there are always dangers in playing “what if” with numbers because things can get distorted, let’s look and see what numbers the Redskins’ wide receivers might have put up if the team had thrown more passes.

Here are the Redskins’ four leading wide receivers’ actual numbers and a simple projection of their stats had the team thrown the NFL average of 556 passes:



Even when you look at the projected numbers, no one receiver stands out (we’ll get to that in a minute). But under this hypothetical set of circumstances the Redskins’ quartet would have been one of the most productive wide receiver corps in the NFL.

Looking at the projections, all four of the Redskins’ receivers would have had at least 600 yards receiving. In 2012, no NFL team had four wide receivers gain over 600 yards. Three teams, the Packers (558 pass attempts), Eagles (618), and Saints (671) had four pass catchers go over 600 yards but in each case one of them was a tight end.

Although the projections are hypotheticals, it is fair to say that the productivity of the Redskins’ wide receivers is distorted due to the fact that the Redskins just didn’t throw much.

But what about the lack of a No. 1 receiver? Even if you project Pierre Garçon’s actual numbers over 16 games (he missed six games with an injured toe), you get 70 catches and barely 1000 yards. Those are not No. 1 receiver numbers.

So should the Redskins try to get a 1? Do they need a 1?

The supply of true No. 1 receivers, players who keep defensive coordinators up late at night, change coverages, and put up big numbers despite getting extra attention from the defense, is pretty low. Anybody’s list is going to include Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald (his poor 2012 numbers can be excused by the fact that his team didn’t have a competent NFL QB), Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, A. J. Green, and Julio Jones. Vincent Jackson could be considered to be one, Dez Bryant is on the verge, and Reggie Wayne has been one for most of his career, as has Steve Smith.

So that’s six who are surely 1’s and four more who could be called 1’s. If you want to stretch the definition some more, add Hakeem Nicks, who has No. 1 traits when he’s healthy, and Roddy White, who was a 1 before Jones came into his own and would still be one on many other rosters. Put in a few more of your favorites and you have 15 or so, or enough for about half of the teams in the NFL.

You might note that none of the 1’s played in the Super Bowl. Of the 12 playoff teams only four had a 1. Having a 1 does not lead to success nor is having a 1 necessary for success.

If the sample size here is too small, let’s go back to 2011. Five of the 12 playoff teams had a 1. In 2010 and 2009 it was 2 of 12.

If you can get by without a 1, your capologist will thank you for it. Andre Johnson’s 2013 cap hit is north of $14.6 million, Calvin Johnson consumes $12.2 million of the Lion’s cap, Fitzgerald eats up $10.25 million of the Cardinals’. Others like Green, Nicks, Jones, and Bryant are still on their rookie contracts and will command deals that eat up eight figures annually when they become free agents.

It’s not that the Redskins’ receiver corps can’t be improved. This will probably be Moss’ last year and it is unclear if Aldrick Robinson can replace him in the slot. I’m a little bit higher on Leonard Hankerson than some but he needs to develop consistency in his third season or a replacement will have to be located for him. Morgan needs to step up and he might if the ankle he broke in 2011 is fully healed. In any case, the rest of his contract voids after this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the Redskins have to spend a high draft pick (they don’t have a first) or go out after a high-priced free agent (they are working under an $18 million salary cap penalty).

If a wide receiver is the best player on the board when the Redskins draft, they should take him. If one is available in free agency who fits the offense and is there at an affordable price, sign him.  

If neither of those situations arises, the Redskins will be fine if they stand pat at receiver in 2013. The Redskins won 10 games and the NFC East title with them and Robert Griffin III was among the league leaders in passer rating and yards per pass attempt throwing to this group. It would be a mistake to forego other needs and reach in the draft and spend precious cap dollars to improve a position that is functional. 

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Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Kirk Cousins has same odds of winning 2016/17 NFL MVP as Mark Sanchez

Is it crazy to give a quarterback who threw for more than 4,000 yards and 29 touchdowns last season the same MVP odds as a guy who went 0-3 in three starts and tossed just four scores in 2015?

According to the sportsbook Bovada.lv, no, it's not crazy at all. So that's why, when looking at their opening odds for the 2016/17 NFL MVP, you'll find Kirk Cousins right next to Mark Sanchez, with both signal callers listed at a long 150/1.

Tyrod Taylor, Ryan Tannehill, David Johnson, Alshon Jeffrey, Le'Veon Bell and Sam Bradford also check in at 150/1. Some of those names, like Jeffrey and Bell, should makes Redskins fans feel good, since they're both premier players at their position. But others, such as Sanchez and Bradford? Yeah, not so much.

The top five guys most likely to win the award are Aaron Rodgers (4/1), Ben Roethlisberger (7/1), Cam Newton (15/2), Russell Wilson (8/1) and Tom Brady (9/1). Meanwhile, if you squint hard enough, you can see Robert Griffin III near the bottom of the list at 250/1.

Not that this reminder is necessary, but here's a reminder anyway: Anything can happen in this league, so these rankings are not the be-all and end-all. Last year, for instance, Newton had 50/1 odds of being named MVP, and then he went out and did it anyway.

So, with that in mind, while Cousins is no favorite, perhaps his loaded arsenal of targets can help him claim the valuable piece of hardware. The NFL is a wild place, after all — but still probably not wild enough for Sanchez to rise to the top of the sport, which is why him landing next to Cousins hurts more than a little bit.

RELATED: COLIN COWHERD TROLLS KIRK COUSINS IN LATEST RANT

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Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime NFL coach Dennis Green dead at 67; honored by Redskins great

Longtime Minnesota Vikings and Arizona Cardinals head coach Dennis Green died on Friday morning from complications stemming from a cardiac arrest.

He was 67.

Green spent ten seasons as the Vikings head coach, amassing a 97-62 record which included four NFC North titles, eight playoff appearances and one NFC Champuionship game appearance.

After taking a break from coaching, he returned in 2003 to coach the Cardinals, spending three years at the helm, finishing with a 16-32 record.

Former Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington was lined up across from Smith-coached offenses throughout much of his career.

As a former Penn State Nittany Lion, Arrington had much respect for Green, a Harrisburg, Penn. native and former coach at Northwestern, a fellow Big Ten school.

He was a great coach, mentor and man R I P Coach Green 🙏🏾

A photo posted by Lavar Arrington (@lavarleaparrington) on

Green was one of the NFL's great people and great characters.

While he will always be remembered for his most-game meltdown after the Cardinals blew a 20-point lead to the Bears in a Monday Night Football game in 2006, Green's lasting memory will be his commitment to respecting the game and teaching it the right way. 

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Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

Steelers may be without Le'Veon Bell for opener against Redskins

For a franchise that's known for assembling some incredibly stout defenses throughout its history, the Steelers have recently constructed an offense with a surplus of talent all over the depth chart.

But that offense was dealt a major blow Friday morning.

Le'Veon Bell, the team's star running back who in just three seasons has become one of the league's most feared players, is facing a four-game suspension for violating the league's drug policy, according to ESPN. The reason for the penalty, though, isn't because he failed a test, it's because he missed one.

The appeal process is reportedly still going on, but if Bell doesn't win that process, he'll miss the first quarter of the 2016 schedule.

While the news obviously hurts the Steelers, it benefits the Redskins.

Washington is hosting Pittsburgh in the season opener on Sept. 12, and its run defense wouldn't mind seeing No. 26 on the sidelines in a sweatshirt during the matchup. The Black and Gold do still have the very capable DeAngelo Williams — who rushed for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns in 2015 while filling in for an injured Bell — plus the always dangerous Antonio Brown, but their unit will of course be less threatening without its top tailback.

ESPN reports that Bell's appeal date hasn't been determined yet, but it should be heard before any meaningful football starts. He was also suspended for the first two contests last year following an arrest for a DUI and marijuana possession that occurred in August 2014.

RELATED: SIX REDSKINS HONORED FOR OFFSEASON WORK