At his best, Jordan Reed has shown that he's one of the most dangerous tight ends in the NFL.
In 2019, for the Redskins offense to be as successful as possible, No. 86 needs to return to elite No. 86 form, according to Charley Casserly.
"He's their best offensive weapon as a receiver," Casserly said.
With a receiving corps of Paul Richardson, Josh Doctson, and Trey Quinn leading the way, Casserly does have a point; Reed is by far the most talented and dynamic of the bunch.
But since Reed's breakout season in 2015, he has not had the same success since. In 2017, Reed dealt with multiple injuries that caused him to miss 10 games. A season ago, Reed appeared in 13 games, playing through multiple injuries as well, but was clearly not fully healthy. Thus, he was never able to regain his form as an elite NFL tight end.
Yet, Reed still showed glimpses of what he could do when given the chance. He has shown throughout his career the ability to catch the contested one-on-one ball, but he's also great when given space and the ability to make a play in the open field.
"What I saw in him last year, I saw a guy who still had separation," Casserly said. "He could still win a one-on-one with a defensive back."
With Reed's production declining significantly since his breakout season in 2015, many wondered whether Reed has lost a step. Casserly believes Reed's game has changed slightly but believes Reed still has the ability to be a game-changer.
"What I didn't see was the long speed to run away from people," Casserly said on Reed about his 2018 season. "So if you ran him on a streak or a downfield route where he was just going to run straight down the field, people could run with him. When you allowed him the option to make a play, he can still win those."
Reed's down year in 2018 doesn't fall solely on him. The Redskins had four different starting quarterbacks in 2018, making it difficult for someone like Reed to establish chemistry and a connection with a quarterback. But even before Alex Smith went down with a devastating leg injury, Reed and Smith were unable to really form a connection.
"Last year, Alex Smith wasn't getting the ball to him," Casserly said. "The gameplan at times showed that."
After a complete overhaul to the QB group by adding veteran Case Keenum and rookie Dwayne Haskins, many wonder whether Reed will be able to return to his form, or whether 2019 will just be a repeat of 2018.
"Is that going to happen again this year? Quite possibly," Casserly said on Reed failing to form a connection with the new quarterbacks. "We just don't know how Case Keenum or any of the other quarterbacks, Dwayne Haskins specifically being the newer one, are they going to be able to get in sync early in the season?"
The Redskins begin training camp July 25, and the quarterback battle between Keenum and Haskins is certainly going to be the main storyline from Richmond. But it's worth paying attention to how comfortable Reed looks with each quarterback.
Washington would prefer to have a balanced offensive attack and spread the ball around. But featuring Jordan Reed in the passing game, and making the gameplan around him could be the Redskins best path to success.
"He catches the ball well," Casserly said. "He's definitely a guy you're going to have to gameplan for when you play him. To me, the offense revolves around him. If you get a double team on him, it can open some things up."
Reed led the Redskins in receptions in 2015, posting a career-high 87 catches for 952 yards and eight touchdowns. 2015 was also the last year the Redskins made the playoffs. So as head coach Jay Gruden enters 2019 knowing that this season could be his last should Washington miss the playoffs for a fourth consecutive season (he said it himself), he ought to think about reverting back to a gameplan designed around their dynamic tight end.
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