Last week Rich Tandler posted a series of tweets from NFL writer Evan Silva after the Pro Football Talk and Rotoworldmaven reviewed Leonard Hankerson's game tape fromlast season.Silva kept the analyst hat on and the film projector (OK, probably a DVD or laptop) humming as he looked at two of Pierre Garcon'sgames fromlast season.Silva chose specifically tough matchups against the Chiefs talented young corners - including new Cowboys' addition Brandon Carr - and the Titans. Garcon finished with a season-high 13 targets againstTennessee' solid secondary. The highlights..."Garcon was Indianapolis' Z receiver on every snap, with Reggie Wayne aligned at X. Garcon lined up on the right side of the offensive formation, routinely squaring off with Chiefs LCB Flowers in the Week 5 matchup and Titans LCB Jason McCourty in the Tennessee game.""Garcon is fun to watch on screens because he is very quick in a short area and tough to tackle post-catch. The fact that a coaching staff is calling a screen for a particular receiver also suggests that wideout has an elite evaluation from his own team. The coaches have designed a specific play to get him the football. They want it in that guy's hands, because he can make big plays happen.""Looking ahead, I think it's notable that Garcon will transition from Z receiver in the Colts' offense to X in Washington's. The positions aren't all that different, though. As we learned in the Leonard Hankerson column, the Shanahans' X receiver has a vast array of route assignments and is the featured skill-position player in the offensive scheme." "If Garcon performs like he's capable, I have no doubt that he will lead the Redskins in 2012 receiving. Garcon plays with a sense of urgency whenever he gets the football, flashes vertical tools on the perimeter, and is a very tough tackle."Just how much 2012 production Garcon cobbles together will be strongly tied to Robert Griffin III's readiness as a rookie passer."Interesting points. In addition to RG3's readiness, I would ad Garcon's adjustment to the Shanahansystem and Santana Moss' role will also factor into the new guy's 2012 production.
Alex Smith finished the Week 2 loss to the Indianapolis Colts by averaging 6.3 yards-per-pass attempt on 33 completions. Those numbers aren't particularly good, and while they're not bad either, it clearly did not produce enough opportunities for points in the home opener.
The Colts defense had a lot to do with that too. Indianapolis deployed a soft zone coverage system, forcing the Washington Redskins to look underneath for short gains and eschewing many chances at deep shots down the field.
That's fine when the team is able to run the ball well, like the dominant Week 1 win in Arizona. But when Washington can't run the ball, like the embarassing Week 2, the short passing game looks too conservative.
"I mean I think every guy on the team, certainly every guy on offense went through the game and what plays could I have done differently to help us," Smith said Wedneday. "Could I have taken a shot here? You know, all week we talked about being patient. The way they play defense, be patient. Let the shots present themselves."
The shots rarely presented themselves.
Smith did put two passes in positions for chunk gains, but Josh Doctson was unable to bring in a deep ball on the sideline, and later in the game, Paul Richardson could not corral a big gain over the middle. Neither drop was devestating, but a catch in either situation could have turned momentum in the game.
Prior to 2017, Smith had a reputation as a quarterback that rarely went down the field. Last season, he disproved that with his best ever statistical campaign and a number of highlight reel plays down the field in the Kansas City offense.
Redskins fans are starting to wonder if they got the 2017 version of Smith, or the earlier version.
Truth is the sample size is much too small to determine that answer. In Week 1, Smith didn't need to air the ball out. In fact, he still tried, barely missing a deep completion to Richardson on a play flagged because the receiver was held.
There are other factors too. The offensive line had a poor performance in Week 2, and Richardson played the game dealing with a shoulder injury.
Still, there were times it seemed Smith had chances down the field he didn't take, instead opting for the safer check-down pass.
Running back Chris Thompson finished the game with 13 catches but for just 92 yards. Much of that production came late in the second half when the Colts had taken a substantial lead.
"In the second half, very apparent, I mean they were not going to let anything get over their head or get behind them. It was so soft. Hence, a lot of the underneath stuff was open," Smith said.
What version of Smith will show up Sunday against Green Bay?
Much of that will have to do with the offensive line and Jay Gruden's game plan. But plenty will be determined by Smith too.
The veteran QB does not turn the ball over, which is a big bonus. The Redskins need points though if they're going to keep up with Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
Here is a look ahead and a look back at the Redskins vs. Packers series.
Week 3, Sunday, FedEx Field
2017 Packers: 7-9, third in NFC North; 1-0-1 in 2018
2018 statistical leaders:
Passing yards: Aaron Rodgers, 567 yards
Rushing yards: Jamaal Williams, 106 yards
Receiving yards: Randall Cobb 172
- The Packers haven’t had much of a running game so far this year and the Redskins can’t let it get healthy on them. It’s hard enough to deal with Rodgers when all he can do is pass. If a viable rushing attack is in the mix, Rodgers is nearly impossible to stop.
- Offensively, the Redskins will have to stay aggressive. We saw what happened on Week 1 on Sunday night when the Bears couldn’t take advantage of some chances to put the Packers away. There are plenty of reasons to doubt that the Redskins would be able to kill the clock by running the ball—they couldn’t against the Cardinals—and Alex Smith will have to keep throwing.
Key matchup: Redskins C Tony Bergstrom vs. Packers NT Frank Clark—It looks like Chase Roullier will have to move to left guard and Bergstrom will have to take on Clark, a tough, athletic nose tackle.
Redskins-Packers series history
The Packers lead the all-time series 14-12; the teams have split their last four games including the playoffs.
The first time: November 28, 1937, Griffith Stadium—In their first season in Washington, the Redskins needed a win to have a shot to play for the Eastern Conference title the following week. The home team trailed 6-0 at halftime, but the Redskins weren’t done. Cliff Battles ran for a touchdown, Sammy Baugh threw for another and the Washington defense held for a 14-6 win.
The last time: November 20, 2016, FedEx Field—In one of his career highlight games, Kirk Cousins passed for 375 yards and three touchdowns. The game was close at halftime with Washington leading 13-10. Then they exploded for 29 second-half points with the highlight coming on a 70-yard TD bomb from Cousins to Pierre Garçon early in the fourth quarter of the home team’s 49-24 win.
The best time: December 24, 1972, RFK Stadium—The Redskins were hosting their first playoff game since 1942. The highlight play was a 32-yard touchdown pass from Billy Kilmer to Roy Jefferson. But the game was won with a five-man defensive line that George Allen designed to stop the Packers’ powerful rushing attack. Green Bay mustered just 78 yards rushing as the Redskins won 16-3 putting them a win away from their first Super Bowl.
The worst time: October 17, 1983, Lambeau Field—It was a highly entertaining game, still the highest-scoring game in the history of Monday Night Football. Joe Theismann passed for 398 yards, but Lynn Dickey nearly matched him with 387 yards. The game was back and forth the entire way with five lead changes. The fourth one came with 2:50 left to play with a five-yard TD pass from Theismann to Joe Washington. But the Redskins still couldn’t play defense and the Packers drove to a field goal to take a 48-47 lead. Mark Mosely had a shot at stealing the win, but he missed a 39-yard field goal try as time ran out.
MORE REDSKINS NEWS:
- Need to Know: Five Redskins under pressure
- Becoming a Habit: Are 'Skins running the ball too much on first down?
- A New Look: WR, RB depth chart looks quite different
- Slowly But Surely: Smith confident in progress with receivers