The Redskins offense performed bad in 2018. At times, the unit played downright ugly football.
There were plenty of culprits, from a run game mismatched to the pass game, injuries, and a lack of versatility in play calling and personnel. Probably the worst group, however, was the Redskins' collection of wide receivers.
The team got hardly any production on the outside of their offense. Of the starting trio of wideouts last year - Jamison Crowder, Josh Doctson and Paul Richardson - none played in all 16 games or a 1,000-yard season. None got close to that benchmark.
Early in the year, however, there were glimpses of momentum with Richardson. He recorded at least 50 yards receiving for the Redskins in Weeks 2 through 4. It might not sound like much, but the ‘Skins offense was anemic. It was something.
And he was never healthy either.
“No,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden said when asked if Paul Richardson was ever fully healthy last hear.
Gruden’s comments came from the league meetings last month in Phoenix, but told a lot about the speed receiver.
“I think he showed glimpses in training camp of ‘wow, this guy can run.’ He’s got great hands, but I think he was beat up a little bit. The shoulder was giving him more problems than he would probably want to say and he’ll probably get mad at me for saying that but I do want to see that on tape again. And I know he’s got it in him, I know he wants that back and he’s going to ask for a lot more opportunities to make plays on the ball this year and he will get it if he’s healthy.”
Injury prone is a rough label for any player, and watching Richardson in the locker room last year, he truly tried to play through pain. For a speed guy, however, playing through pain doesn’t always work in the NFL.
“It’s important, for sure, I think to get that top level fast down the field and clear it out for the next level, whoever that is,” Gruden said. “Having that luxury of having a guy that can really run fast, put the pressure on the defense, get on the toes of the corner, or the safety, to make them get the heck out of there, is important.”
Richardson has that speed, that talent.
The Redskins need him to be that player if 2019 will be a better season.
Will it work out this year? Asked that question, Gruden kind of laughed and said he was confident his receiver would be back. At some point.
“I’m 100 percent certain he will be fine, yes. Mentally, yes,” Gruden joked. “I don’t know how much he’s going to do in OTAs.”
Richardson finished 2018 on the injured reserve. He started four games and played in seven. The biggest free agent signing last year, Richardson notched two receiving touchdowns and 262 receiving yards on the season.
If Washington is going to make the playoffs in 2019, those numbers have to significantly improve. And that means getting healthy.
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