Through six games, the results for Washington's wideouts are ugly.
No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 10 in receiving yards in the NFL.
No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 20 in receiving yards in the NFL.
No Redskins wide receiver ranks in the Top 50 in receiving yards in the NFL.
Scroll all the way down to 91st on the receiving yards list, and the first Redskins wideout emerges: Terrelle Pryor Sr. Yes, the same guy that got benched Monday night in an ugly loss to the Eagles.
In 2016, Washington had two 1,000-yard receivers and another that went for more than 800 yards. In 2017, however, the receiver position has been extremely unproductive for the Burgundy and Gold.
So, how did the Redskins get here?
It began in free agency, when the organization made no effort to retain the services of DeSean Jackson or Pierre Garçon. The team could certainly use either player now.
Garçon is 10th in the NFL in receiving yards. Playing on a terrible 49ers team, Garçon has 38 catches for 483 yards (no touchdowns though). Jackson ranks 29th in the NFL with 22 catches for 360 yards and two touchdowns.
Now, let's be clear: The Redskins could absolutely use the talents of Garçon or Jackson, but the contracts both men signed in free agency did not make sense for Washington. So while it's easy for fans to lament the loss of the wideouts, remember the team spent money to address defensive deficiencies.
The bigger problem, though, was Washington expected to replace that production with the combination of Pryor and second-year player Josh Doctson.
It hasn't happened. At all.
Pryor has 18 catches for 223 yards and one TD. Doctson has seven catches for 129 yards and two TDs. Pryor has all the physical tools to be a playmaker, but has not been sure-handed early in the season and is still raw at the position. Doctson could not get on the field early in the season, hampered by injuries, but seems to be in a position where Jay Gruden will give him more opportunities going forward.
"When you have a receiver that hasn’t been playing receiver a whole lot in his career, you don’t want him bouncing around playing three positons," Gruden said of Pryor. "And Josh, very similar. He didn’t practice a whole lot last year, he’s only in his second year here so we wanted him to really learn one position."
The Washington front office thought they could rely on Pryor, a career quarterback turned wide receiver, and Doctson, a player that missed virtually his entire rookie year.
So far, they've been wrong, and its hurt the team significantly.
Hope isn't totally lost, as Washington has still moved the ball well. Through six games, the Burgundy and Gold rank 11th in points-per-game and 8th in yards-per-game.
Unexpectedly, Kirk Cousins has found great success going to Chris Thompson and Vernon Davis. Thompson has nearly 600 total yards from scrimmage while Davis has 15 catches for 292 yards. Even more impressive, Davis is averaging nearly 20 yards-per-reception, providing Cousins and the Redskins with a shocking but much needed downfield threat.
The offense has worked running through Thompson and Davis, but it hasn't excelled. To do that, the Redskins must get more production from the outside, and that means either Doctson or Pryor must step up.
It appears Doctson will have the opportunity sooner.
"It'’s just important for us to try to play the best players, the guys who give us the best chance to win. We have faith. It’s not like we’re losing faith in anybody," Gruden said. "We have faith in all our receivers to win one-on-one matchups and run the right coverage, run the right routes and all that stuff and make plays when the ball is distributed to them."
Gruden has faith. With the Cowboys coming to town, the coach has no other choice.
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