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.
Can Pierre Garçon catch 100 passes again?
In 2013 Pierre Garçon was one of just a few bright spots during what mostly was a dismal season. He caught 113 passes, a team record, for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns. Garçon was a constant force for a team that was up and down from week to week; he had from six to eight receptions in 12 of 16 games. It was a career year for Garçon. Can he do it again and become the first Redskin to have 100 or more receptions in two seasons?
Tandler: The easy answer here is no. With the additions of DeSean Jackson, Andre Roberts and the possibility of Jordan Reed being on the field for 16 games, Garçon won’t get targeted 181 times again as he was in 2013 (tied for most in the NFL). Fewer targets should mean fewer receptions. But it’s not always that simple and there is a chance that Garçon could hit triple digits again. As noted above, Garçon was remarkably consistent; he didn’t compile his 2013 stats with a few monster performances. His highest catch total in a single game was 11, in Week 16 vs. the Cowboys. Let’s say there are a few games where the opposing defenses focus on taking away Jackson. That could make Robert Griffin III force-feed the ball to Garçon. Maybe he has three such games where he catches 12 in each. If he does that, he has to average just under five receptions in the other 13 games to hit 100. It still seems unlikely but you never know how a season will unfold.
El-Bashir: The only way Garçon hauls in 113 passes again this season, in my mind, is if another wide out gets hurts and misses a significant amount of time. After all, the whole reason behind spending so much money this offseason on Jackson and Roberts was to give Griffin and Gruden more options, more ways to exploit defenses. And you don’t do that by directing 180-plus passes at one player. I’ve said this a number of times, but I’ll say it again: in addition to coming up with winning game plans, Gruden also must find a way keep his highly compensated, highly driven corps of receivers content and on the same page. It’s easy in the offseason. It’s easy when you’re winning. But could it become a problem after a loss (or three) and one player isn’t getting the ball as much as he’d like? I don’t know, but locker room dynamics are very, very important and we’ve already heard Roberts grumble a little bit this offseason after losing his No. 2 spot before ever stepping on the field. Somehow, Gruden must find a way to get this group—which has the potential, on paper, to rank among the league’s elite—to check their egos at the door. As for Garçon, I still think he’ll lead the Redskins in receptions given the chemistry and comfort level he’s already established with Griffin. If I had to take a guess, I’d go with 80 receptions, 1,050 yards and 5 touchdowns.