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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

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Do the Redskins need to upgrade at wide receiver?

I was listening to the radio last weekend and the topic of the Redskins’ team needs for this offseason came up. One of the hosts said that wide receiver must be a need because the Redskins didn’t have any receivers break 650 yards receiving (Pierre Garçon led the team with 633) or 50 catches (Josh Morgan led with 48).

But if you just look at the raw numbers you get a distorted picture of the productivity of the team’s group of receivers. You have to consider the fact that only NFL two teams attempted fewer passes than the 442 the Redskins threw in 2012. The NFL average for attempts was 556, about 25 percent more than the number the Redskins threw.

While there are always dangers in playing “what if” with numbers because things can get distorted, let’s look and see what numbers the Redskins’ wide receivers might have put up if the team had thrown more passes.

Here are the Redskins’ four leading wide receivers’ actual numbers and a simple projection of their stats had the team thrown the NFL average of 556 passes:



Even when you look at the projected numbers, no one receiver stands out (we’ll get to that in a minute). But under this hypothetical set of circumstances the Redskins’ quartet would have been one of the most productive wide receiver corps in the NFL.

Looking at the projections, all four of the Redskins’ receivers would have had at least 600 yards receiving. In 2012, no NFL team had four wide receivers gain over 600 yards. Three teams, the Packers (558 pass attempts), Eagles (618), and Saints (671) had four pass catchers go over 600 yards but in each case one of them was a tight end.

Although the projections are hypotheticals, it is fair to say that the productivity of the Redskins’ wide receivers is distorted due to the fact that the Redskins just didn’t throw much.

But what about the lack of a No. 1 receiver? Even if you project Pierre Garçon’s actual numbers over 16 games (he missed six games with an injured toe), you get 70 catches and barely 1000 yards. Those are not No. 1 receiver numbers.

So should the Redskins try to get a 1? Do they need a 1?

The supply of true No. 1 receivers, players who keep defensive coordinators up late at night, change coverages, and put up big numbers despite getting extra attention from the defense, is pretty low. Anybody’s list is going to include Calvin Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald (his poor 2012 numbers can be excused by the fact that his team didn’t have a competent NFL QB), Andre Johnson, Brandon Marshall, A. J. Green, and Julio Jones. Vincent Jackson could be considered to be one, Dez Bryant is on the verge, and Reggie Wayne has been one for most of his career, as has Steve Smith.

So that’s six who are surely 1’s and four more who could be called 1’s. If you want to stretch the definition some more, add Hakeem Nicks, who has No. 1 traits when he’s healthy, and Roddy White, who was a 1 before Jones came into his own and would still be one on many other rosters. Put in a few more of your favorites and you have 15 or so, or enough for about half of the teams in the NFL.

You might note that none of the 1’s played in the Super Bowl. Of the 12 playoff teams only four had a 1. Having a 1 does not lead to success nor is having a 1 necessary for success.

If the sample size here is too small, let’s go back to 2011. Five of the 12 playoff teams had a 1. In 2010 and 2009 it was 2 of 12.

If you can get by without a 1, your capologist will thank you for it. Andre Johnson’s 2013 cap hit is north of $14.6 million, Calvin Johnson consumes $12.2 million of the Lion’s cap, Fitzgerald eats up $10.25 million of the Cardinals’. Others like Green, Nicks, Jones, and Bryant are still on their rookie contracts and will command deals that eat up eight figures annually when they become free agents.

It’s not that the Redskins’ receiver corps can’t be improved. This will probably be Moss’ last year and it is unclear if Aldrick Robinson can replace him in the slot. I’m a little bit higher on Leonard Hankerson than some but he needs to develop consistency in his third season or a replacement will have to be located for him. Morgan needs to step up and he might if the ankle he broke in 2011 is fully healed. In any case, the rest of his contract voids after this season.

But that doesn’t mean that the Redskins have to spend a high draft pick (they don’t have a first) or go out after a high-priced free agent (they are working under an $18 million salary cap penalty).

If a wide receiver is the best player on the board when the Redskins draft, they should take him. If one is available in free agency who fits the offense and is there at an affordable price, sign him.  

If neither of those situations arises, the Redskins will be fine if they stand pat at receiver in 2013. The Redskins won 10 games and the NFC East title with them and Robert Griffin III was among the league leaders in passer rating and yards per pass attempt throwing to this group. It would be a mistake to forego other needs and reach in the draft and spend precious cap dollars to improve a position that is functional. 

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

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Why Trent Williams is the one holding the leverage when it comes to his situation with the Redskins

Trent Williams wasn't at the Redskins' mandatory June minicamp or any of their OTA sessions, either, with reports suggesting he wants more money, is upset with the organization's medical staff or a combination of the two.

But even by not attending any offseason practice, Williams showed the Redskins something very important.

If he's not at left tackle for the team in 2019, the entire offense might fail. Not having their anchor on the left side could be an anchor to the whole campaign.

Even in sessions where the defensive line wasn't playing with full ferocity, they often times had no problems getting into the faces of Dwayne Haskins and Case Keenum. Jay Gruden absolutely noticed. It was impossible not to.

Yes, it's necessary to point out Williams wasn't the only one missing up front. In fact, the collection was basically made up of second-stringers.

However, Morgan Moses, Brandon Scherff and Chase Roullier are all slated to be back when meaningful football resumes. Gruden, the passers and the running backs don't have to worry about them.

Yet they should all be quite petrified at the thought of not having No. 71 around.

A massive reason why is because of the present choices behind him. Ereck Flowers was brought in to try and be used at left guard, but with Williams absent, he saw heavy action on the outside. The results reminded everyone there of why he's being moved to the interior.

Aside from Flowers, the 'Skins have players like Tyler Catalina and Timon Parris on the roster. They fared better than Flowers when the media was able to watch practices in Ashburn, but they're nowhere close to being starting-caliber options, let alone ready to serve as replacements for one of the franchise's top contributors of the 2000s.  

That's a major factor into why it feels like Williams holds the leverage in his standoff with the Burgundy and Gold. There are other factors as well.

Whether or not Haskins wins the job coming out of Richmond remains to be seen. With that being said, the 15th overall pick will eventually take over as signal caller, and figures to take over for the long-term future. Haskins' early career beginning with someone other than Williams protecting him is the opposite of ideal.

Then, there's the fact that many decision makers believe the Redskins are "close" to breaking through. That step forward will not happen if Williams isn't suiting up.

Now, the team could just wait Williams out and see if he's really committed to the reported "vow" he's taken to never play in DC again. Would he still be content to not show up once he starts losing out on hefty game checks?

That's something the front office may decide to find out, and that route could easily force Williams into a place where he has to make the first move. It's a card they're holding, and a key card at that.

But still, the Redskins have a head coach who badly needs to succeed starting in September, an offense predicated on running the ball, a prized young QB about to embark on his NFL life and leaders up top who could use positive results on the field.

All of that is largely why, in his Tuesday story, JP Finlay wrote that perhaps improving Williams' contract and getting him back in the locker room appears to be how this'll all play out.

The storyline this offseason absolutely wasn't supposed to be about a battle between the Redskins and Trent Williams, but as of now, that's the topic everyone's talking about. It's now in Washington's best interest to ensure it doesn't carry over beyond Week 1.

For that to happen, it seems like the team will have to appease the player. That's not common in the NFL, but not many players find themselves with the leverage Williams possesses.  

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

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Eagles will open just one training camp practice to fans, and charge them

Following a growing trend, the Philadelphia Eagles cut fan access at training camp way back. Way, way back actually. 

The Eagles will open just one training camp practice to the public, and what's more, the team will charge fans to watch. To watch the Eagles lone public training camp session will cost $10, but it's important to note that the proceeds will go the Eagles Autism Challenge, per an ESPN report.

Raising money for charity is admirable. That's not a debate. 

Still, Philadelphia might be on the forefront of an NFL wide trend that significantly limits fan access to teams during training camp. Last year, the Eagles held two open practices at Lincoln Financial Field that fans could attend. This year, it's just one, and by putting it at their home stadium changes the atmosphere too. For some fans, it might be great to get to see the stadium without paying game day prices, but for others, the up-close access of training camp will be greatly missed. 

The Redskins were widely mocked nearly 20 years ago when they moved training camp sessions to their practice facility in Ashburn and charged to watch the practices. The outcry was deserved, not to mention that by charging to watch practice allowed other team's scouts to attend. The NFL changed a rule in 2017 that opposing scouts are not allowed to watch a team's practice regardless of cost. 

Other teams around the league are slowly pulling away from the traditional training camp experience of going away for a few weeks of practice. In the NFC East, the Eagles and Giants hold their camps at their facilities while the Redskins and Cowboys travel. Dallas does their training camp in Oxnard, California, while the 'Skins go to Richmond. 

Washington's deal with the city of Richmond expires after training camp in 2020. It will be interesting to see what happens with the Redskins training camp practices after that, especially as the team wants a new stadium. Any new stadium would probably include facilities to hold training camp practices, similar to the Giants in New Jersey. Additionally, the promise of training camp practices could be part of the negotiations for a new stadium. 

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