With a new head coach, some intriguing free agents and a quarterback on the comeback trail, the 2014 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 30 questions the Redskins face as they get ready for the season.
Who will be the Redskins’ leading receiver?
Prior to the April signing of DeSean Jackson, there was no need to ask which wide receiver was the Redskins’ No. 1. It was Pierre Garçon—by a mile. Garçon led the NFL in receptions with 113 last season and shattered his career mark for yards with 1,346 (399 more than his previous best). But now it’s a legitimate question. Jackson also eclipsed the 1,300-yard mark last season as a member of the Eagles, and there’s only one football to go around. So we ask: After 16 games, which of them will have the best numbers? And is it possible Andre Roberts and/or Jordan Reed will enter the discussion?
El-Bashir: Chemistry is a difficult thing to describe. But when it’s present, it’s also easy to recognize. Which is why I can say this with certainty: Robert Griffin III and Garçon have chemistry. The connection was first established in 2012. It grew last offseason as the quarterback and wide receiver worked off to the side while rehabbing injuries. And, of course, it was cemented during Garçon’s record-breaking 2013 campaign. (Just think of the thousands of passes Griffin has already thrown to Garçon in OTAs, minicamps, practices, games, informal passing camps, etc.) The arrival of Jackson won’t detract from the two-plus years that Griffin and Garçon have already spent learning one another’s tendencies, likes and dislikes, habits, body language, etc. on the football field. Don’t get me wrong, Jackson is going to have a big year. I also suspect Griffin and Jackson will get more comfortable with one another as the season progresses. But that comfort level is already there between Griffin and Garçon. Which is why I predict Garçon will have a stronger start and finish the 2014 season with more receptions and yards than Jackson.
Tandler: I don’t think there’s much question that Garçon will lead the team in catches, unless teams totally ignore Reed in the middle of the field. But I’m not sure it’s a given that he’ll lead in yardage. Let’s look at the math here. Let’s say Garçon catches 85 passes, a very respectable number that would put him in the top 20 in the NFL in catches, and gains the same 11.9 yards per catch that he did last year. That would give him a total of just over 1,000 yards. Jackson’s career average is 17.2 yards per catch. If he catches 65 passes at 17.2 yards per, he’ll rack up over 1,100 receiving yards. It’s very easy to envision Garçon being the guy to go to in order to set up second and three or to move the chains on third and six and Jackson getting the ball on deep crossing routes for big chunks of yardage. So it’s very possible, perhaps even likely, that Garçon will have more catches but Jackson will lead the team in receiving yards.