With the Redskins headed into their first playoff game in five years and Garçon leading the team in receiving yards after missing six games, it might be time to start cooking up some crow.
When news broke on March 13th, 2012 that WR Pierre Garçon had accepted a five-year, $42.5M deal with the Washington Redskins, the online football world burst with commentary, most of it negative. From Indianapolis to Washington and national outlets in between, it seemed everyone had an opinion on the signing.
Some in Indiana were happy to see him go: "Wayne is a No. 1 receiver. Garçon aspires to be."
In DC, many were disappointed the Redskins didn't further pursue a "top" receiver: " Sure there have been some slight upgrades, but I still think they need a game changer at wide receiver... With the additions of Pierre Garcon and Josh Morgan at the wideout position, the Redskins have added value in free agency. But I'm pretty sure neither one of these guys is a true number one receiver."
And much of the national attention focused on Garçon's perceived inability to be a number one receiver: "At least for this season, I do not see Garcon having the ability to be the No. 1 receiver the Redskins want him to be... Garcon is not the type of game-changing receiver who could help out RG3.... Overall, Garcon is a solid wide receiver, but I only see him as a No. 2 wide receiver."
Ten games into his first season as a Redskin, Garçon is proving his detractors wrong.
The Redskins are 9-1 when Garçon is playing and have won seven straight games since he returned after the bye week. Garçon has 44 catches for 633 yards and four TDs. He is the second most targeted receiver behind Joshua Morgan who has been active in every game this season. With almost 30 more receiving yards per game than any other player on the team (Garçon averages 63.3 yards/game), one can only wonder what kind of number he'd have put up had he been healthy through all sixteen games.
At 6', 212 lbs, Garçon is not an impressively large receiver, but one would never know that by the way he plays. Garçon is a very physical player who possesses a unique combination of speed, break away ability and blocking prowess - not to mention the man has some serious ups. His style of play has even been described as angry.
Garçon's on-field passion is evident in the effort he puts forth on every catch and every extra yard. To date, he has amassed 298 yards after the catch, surpassing his closest teammates, Morgan and Santana Moss, by more than 60 yards. With an average 14.4 yards per catch, Garçon has average seven yards after a catch and earned first downs on almost 60% of his receptions.
In his first season in Washington, Garçon has tallied career high yards per game and yards after the catch average, and a second best yards per reception average. Not bad for a player some said couldn't put up serious numbers without playing next to bigger threats.
The Redskins transformation since the bye week has been a whole-team effort, but Garçon's role in the process cannot be overstated. Whether he is the primary target or not, he forces defenses to account for his presence and brings an additional energy to the field.
And numbers don't lie. Garçon has received at least five targets per game over the last six weeks and could come close to surpassing 700 yards on Sunday against Seattle. Had he played in all sixteen games this season, he was on pace to have the 1,000 yard season few thought him capable of, even without a post-season appearance. Washington has a strong receiving corps, but Garçon is the clear number one receiver and will be for years to come.