Pierre Garçon showed just how good he can be in the 2013 season, hauling in 113 catches for 1.346 yards on a bad Redskins team, leading the NFL in catches. Last season, with a new role in a new offense and a new coach, Garçon slipped statistically, bringing in 68 catches and 752 yards.
So which version of Garçon can Washington expect this fall?
Redskins coach Jay Gruden spoke this offseason about how hard Garçon works, and that the team needs to make more of an effort to get 88 the ball. It's foolish to discuss Garçon's stat slide without bringing up Washington's addition of DeSean Jackson, who last year joined the 'Skins and took over as the No. 1 receiver.
As an offensive coach, and with an offense that sputtered much of last season, Gruden needs to make sure both Jackson and Garçon get enough balls their way this season. Jackson is a true burner, a vertical threat, while Garçon works as a better possession receiver with the ability to run crisp downfield routes as well. Both WRs talents can put opposing secondaries in tough positions, and if the Redskins can better utilize both men this season, the results should improve.
Quarterback play also mandates mention in the discussion of Garçon, as last season the wideout caught passes from Robert Griffin III, Kirk Cousins and Colt McCoy. Better quarterback play should bring better stats for receivers; that's fairly obvious. But better quarterback play means more than accuracy, it's RG3 understanding the offense and knowing where his wideouts will be before they get there.
Trying to figure out expectations for Jackson and Garçon is tricky, because few teams have that type of talent at WR with the type of questions at QB as the Redskins do.
The Green Bay Packers - with the best offense in the NFL and likely the best QB in Aaron Rodgers - had two WRs in Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb that accounted for more than 2,800 yards and nearly 300 catches. Jackson and Garçon will not approach those numbers. The Chicago Bears perhaps offer a better example for Washington. Brandon Marshall and Alshon Jeffery are top tier receivers though Jay Cutler ranks outside the top ranks of NFL quarterbacks. With the Bears, Jeffery and Marshall were both able to carve out big roles in the pass game, and each player's success made it easier for the other.
In eight NFL seasons, Garçon has averaged more than 50 catches per game. As a Redskin, those numbers are higher, averaging 75 catches a year in three seasons. Returning to the 75 catch mark, or even getting above 80, should be a benchmark for a successful Redskins offense. Garçon should be a player that converts third downs for Washington, a trouble spot in 2014.
How many catches for Garçon in 2014? How many does he need for the Redskins to succeed? Let us know in the comments.