Bye week grades: Tight ends and wide receivers
Through seven games, the Redskins rank as one of the NFL’s most inconsistent teams—from week-to-week, quarter-to-quarter, heck, play-to-play. But at 3-4, they’re still in the thick of things as they catch a breather at the bye. It’s been an interesting couple of months, indeed, and over the next few days CSN Mid-Atlantic reporters Tarik El-Bashir and Rich Tandler will hand out their first half grades, position-by-position.
Tandler: What was supposed to be a major strength on the team has been reduced to a fairly effective but somewhat scuffling group. DeSean Jackson was supposed to help out all of the other pass catchers by drawing attention as a deep threat but he has not been seen since he pulled a hamstring going deep in the first quarter of the season opener. Jordan Reed has moved the chains and served as an effective red zone target but he missed two games, both losses, with a concussion. Derek Carrier filled in for Reed and caught a few passes but he’s not an impact player. While Jackson has been out, Ryan Grant has been starting and his productivity has been subpar, with 17 receptions for 194 yards. The two pass catchers who save the group grade here are Pierre Garçon, who is the team leader in receptions and the emotional leader on offense, and rookie Jamison Crowder, who has some clutch catches and a few spectacular grabs. I’ll put an up arrow next to the grade here as Jackson should be back soon after the bye and Reed seems to be healthy.
El-Bashir: This group has been a little underwhelming given its immense talent, but that’s mostly because of the injuries to DeSean Jackson and Jordan Reed. Could Jackson have avoided the hamstring tear by doing more in the preseason? Perhaps. But that’s an argument for another day. As for Reed, his performance Sunday (11 receptions, two touchdowns) underscored just how important he is to this offense and to Kirk Cousins’ success. When healthy, Reed’s a game-breaker. When he’s not, well, he’s one of the league’s biggest teases. Pierre Garcon, meantime, is on pace for 85 receptions and 800 yards, which seems about right. Andre Roberts has only reeled in nine of his 18 targets, which, unfortunately, also seems about right. Ryan Grant has had some okay efforts (as well as a costly slip in Atlanta), but the second year pro has yet to really break out. Can Grant take the next step? I’m starting to wonder about that. And, yes, I did save the best for last. Jamison Crowder has been a revelation. In fact, the fourth rounder has been the Redskins’ second best offensive player (behind Reed), racking up 19 first downs and 122 yards after the catch. With Jackson expected back after the bye, Reed healthy, Crowder gaining confidence and Cousins seemingly on the upswing, I expect this group to finally fulfill its potential and the Redskins' 17th-ranked passing attack to make a move.
Grading the Redskins at the bye: