Skip to content

With Jackson out, Redskins will need to rely on Garçon

Sep 19, 2015, 12:00 PM EDT


One of the questions floating around Redskins Park this week is how the Redskins are going to move the ball with DeSean Jackson sidelined with a hamstring injury. Who will replace Jackson? How will they get any offense going without a receiver who can stretch the field?

The short answers are that nobody can take Jackson’s place and the offense will have to figure out how to move the chains the same way the vast majority of the teams in the league do. Very few NFL teams have a receiver with Jackson’s sheer speed and ability to run under almost anything a quarterback throws up there.

The Redskins didn’t have one in 2013. Jackson was an Eagle that year. The Redskins relied on Pierre Garçon to move the football through the air. Quarterbacks Robert Griffin III and Kirk Cousins targeted Garçon a league leading 181 times. They attempted a combined 611 passes so nearly one in every three throws was in Garçon’s direction.

And the receiver came through with 113 receptions, a total that both led the league and set a team record for catches in a single season. The Redskins did not have a top-notch offense doing things this way but they did rank ninth in total yards and the Garçon-centric passing attack kept defenses honest enough to for the team to rank fifth in rushing yards. It was a miserable 3-13 seasons but a shaky defense, awful special teams, and general team dysfunction contributed more to the mess than the offense did.

There is no reason why this plan can’t work again during Jackson’s temporary absence. With Jackson missing all but a few snaps of the Dolphins game, Garçon was targeted eight times, catching six. Four catches were good for first downs and a fifth reception that should have resulted in a first down was nullified by a highly questionable offensive pass interference penalty.

During the offseason Scot McCloughan and Jay Gruden talked a lot about wanting to transform the Redskins into a team known for its toughness. You can check that box next to Garçon’s name.

“You preach tough football players and when your wide receiver is one of the toughest players on your football team, it sends a good signal to everybody,” said Gruden. “He’s a guy that’ll block. He’s a guy that’ll go over-the-middle, be fearless and run after the catch. Every part of Pierre’s game is what you’re looking for in a wide receiver — his toughness, his willingness to do the little things to make the team better.”

The Redskins will send Jamison Crowder and perhaps Rashad Ross on some deep patterns against the Rams tomorrow and for as long as Jackson is sidelined. But it is doubtful that many big plays will happen as a result. If the Redskins are going to move the ball against St. Louis they will do it running the ball (Seattle rushed for 125 yards against them) with Garçon providing blocking on the edge and by targeting Garçon at least a dozen times passing.

Gruden is on board with such a plan.

“I’m all about trying to get him involved in this offense, no question about it,” he said. “You’d love to run the ball, run the ball, but it’s also important to get him involved because he is a game changer if we can get him the quality touches like we did last year.”

Certainly a game plan like this would work better with someone like Jackson in the mix. The ability to score from long distance rather than needing to put together an extended drive certainly helps. But the Redskins will have to play with the hand they were dealt and there is no reason why it can’t be effective given that it has worked in the past.

  1. goback2rfk - Sep 19, 2015 at 12:39 PM

    St. Louis has one of the best all around defenses in the league. 2nd String QB (Cousins), Jackson out, the Rams should be all over Garcon as he will be the main target. Should be a tough outing for Garcon.
    Definitely think Cousins will have at least 2 more INT’s trying to force it into coverage.
    There is no way I see the Redskins even being in this game. Rams should dominate from start to finish.
    Morris will get plugged up and I don expect him to reach 100 yards.

    • troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 1:37 PM

      St Louis had one game where their defense shined this year. Last year, they were in the middle of the pack as far as defense and yards allowed. Washington should be able to run on them. The Rams gave up 124 yards rushing last week.

      • berniebernard666 - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:30 PM

        The Redskins are bad. Everybody says it. And they lose to prove it. We all want a winning football team but it ain’t happening this year. i love Scott M’s first draft pick in Sherff. Maybe next year he can get a right tackle to go along with him and then we can begin to build the best offensive line in football. Meanwhile, Moses is slow footed and gets injured a lot. So if the Skins finish 3-13 I am hoping they get the 1st pick in the draft to finally get some pass protection out of a right tackle.

    • tyguyness - Sep 20, 2015 at 3:47 PM

      You could not have been more wrong in your convictions, I feel as if the Redskins adequately prepared for this game with a great gameplan and they worked to limit the mistakes that cost them the game against the Dolphins.

      • goback2rfk - Sep 20, 2015 at 8:32 PM

        I am glad to say I was wrong and presently surprised.

  2. troylok - Sep 19, 2015 at 1:28 PM

    They need to throw deep even if they don’t hope to get that completion. They have to establish the threat – or the illusion of the threat – that they will throw deep. That should keep the safeties back and not allow one of them to creep up in run support. Greg Williams’ defense puts a lot of a man coverage out there, so the receivers should get their chances. The Rams aren’t all that in run defense. Establish the deep threat early and then pound them. End arounds, reverses, counters… those kinds of plays trip up an aggressive defense. Sneak in a little play action…

  3. highwaybong66 - Sep 19, 2015 at 2:36 PM

    Wheres that guy Ross, you played the crap out of him in preseason, and he did great, both on receiving and returning kicks, i know he made the 53 man roster, but i dont even see him on the depth chart

    • Rich Tandler - Sep 19, 2015 at 2:40 PM

      He was inactive last week. He’ll be up this week and it sounds like Gruden will have him return kickoffs. Remember that he played almost exclusively against players who are now driving for Uber. Not that he can’t perform but better to tap the brakes on expectations.

    • berniebernard666 - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:32 PM

      The Redskins are notorius for using only the players with Big Contracts. This is why Andre Roberts is allowed to drop several passes each week. I guess Snyder wants to feel like he is getting his money’s worth. Roberts led the league in drops last year….and now once again. He will have to get injured to get him out of the starting lineup.

  4. kenlinkins - Sep 19, 2015 at 2:47 PM

    The Rams believe that they are better off placing 8 or 9 guys into the box to stop the run, allowing their DB’s to run the risk of big plays over the top or big catch and run plays. For the Redskins to be successful running the ball they must be able to prove they can hurt the Rams with big catch & run plays PLUS show that Garcon and the other WR’s can take the top off the defense This must happen more than once. The Redskins can not hit it once and then forget about it. They must force the Rams to change to playing zones with 6 man fronts so they can start running the ball. Running the ball just to prove you are committed to it against 8 man fronts is no better then forgetting the run and throwing the ball because that’s what your “System’ calls for! Can the Redskins head coach keep his head in the game and be willing to take risk’s & be bold all game long? Well, I have not seen that talent yet from the Redskins sidelines. If we see 8 Rams in the box early and then see Morris get the ball on 1st and 2nd down, then this coach will have a lot to explain after another lost. The play calling will be the key to this game and that is still a talent the new GM has not yet upgraded.

    • goback2rfk - Sep 19, 2015 at 4:47 PM

      I would like to see a lot of boot legs with Cousins and getting his ass moving around in the pocket some. The only game Cousins ever won, or one of the few, was that Cleveland game years ago where he moved around a lot and even run the ball some. Get Cousins back running those types of plays and we have a chance.
      Cousins throws better many times when he is on the move or the play has a longer time to develop.
      I hope to see a Win tomorrow but I expect to see a Loss. httr.

      • berniebernard666 - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:39 PM

        sorry gback2rfk….bootlegs? That would take ingenuity or creative thinking. You must have some other coach in mind besides Gruden.

    • berniebernard666 - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:36 PM

      the Gruden explanations never make sense. For instance…why play Andre Roberts since he leads the league in drops? Why have a weak limp leg field goal kicker try a 47 yard attempt when its 4th and 1 yard and your running game is working???

      Gruden is a wimp who does not command respect from either the players or us fans. Yet, he still has his job and his 5 million dollars per year. Wow. What a lucky bastard.

  5. skinsgame - Sep 19, 2015 at 9:58 PM

    It would be nice to see the vanilla offense get shaken up. Last week they played straight and had success against the Miami D line. I hope they build on that and mix in some misdirection or trap plays. Another winnable game if they eliminate the nonsense penalties and tackle on special teams.

    • berniebernard666 - Sep 19, 2015 at 11:37 PM

      how about the vanilla prevent defense? Remember the days when NFL teams were allowed to rush more than 4 guys to the QB??? That is ancient history in Joe Barry’s class.

      • skinsgame - Sep 20, 2015 at 5:29 AM

        They have to blitz some today or Foles will torch the secondary.

  6. berniebernard666 - Sep 20, 2015 at 12:09 AM

    can somebody PULEEEEEZE fire Jay Gruden. This guy is such a wimpy coach, not creative at play calling, and he does not inspire his team at all. With Gruden its another losing season.

    • goback2rfk - Sep 20, 2015 at 1:11 AM

      We all knew he was a very mediocre if not questionable selection as coach when he was hired. Archives

Follow Us On Twitter