When the Redskins take on the Dallas Cowboys next Sunday night, they should have tight end Jordan Reed back in the lineup. Why is this significant?
First, lets look at how the tight end position has evolved over the last 10 years.
Tony Gonzalez is credited with changing the dynamics of the tight end position in the NFL today. The former Cal basketball/football player has re-defined the position as we know it. These new "Joker" hybrid tight ends are more like wide receivers in linemen bodies. They are too fast for a linebacker to cover, but too big and physical for a corner or safety. They are able to line up all over the field(including in the backfield) to create mismatches for opposing defenses. They can beat press coverage from the line with their size and speed and get vertical down the seam. They can go up over shorter defenders and pluck the ball from the air with relative ease. They are able to catch the ball in traffic, and make defenders miss in the open field. Most importantly, the good ones have become instant Red Zone threats, and security blankets for their quarterbacks, both young and veteran.
Nearly half the teams in the NFL today have a tight end that fits this description. Five weeks into the season, there are 12 tight ends with at least 20 receptions and over 200 yards receiving. Of those 12, only one has yet to record a touchdown. In total, there are 15 tight ends with at least 200 receiving yards, and some have only played four games. Jimmy Graham leads all tight ends in receptions(37), yards(593) and touchdowns(6). In comparison, there are 10 wide receivers with 30 catches or more. 11 have eclipsed 400 yards receiving, and just three, Welker(7), Bryant(6) and Royal(5) have more than five touchdowns on the season. It is very likely that three tight ends could fall in the top 10 in the league in combined receptions and yards, and it is also very likely that a tight end will lead all pass catchers in touchdowns.
What does this mean for the Washington Redskins?
In the third round of the 2013 NFL draft, the Redskins selected Jordan Reed, with hopes he could eventually become that hybrid tight end the league so desperately covets. Reed was a converted college quarterback at the University of Florida, and much like his old teammate, whos name we won't mention, he is a mismatch nightmare, with incredible RAC abilities. So far, Reed has been a legitimate weapon when he is on the field for the Redskins. Although he has yet to start a game, and had to miss the last contest with the Raiders because of a leg injury, Reed has already caught 13 passes for 106 yards and a touchdown. This may not seem impressive from the outside looking in, but as diehard Redskins fans know, he was dealing with some lingering injuries during the offseason that stunted his growth as a rookie this preseason. He was also behind Fred Davis and Logan Paulsen on the depth chart entering the season. All he has done so far is show to be a very reliable target, with deceptive speed, excellent route running ability, and great RAC skills. When he is in the game, he's become a favorite target for Robert Griffin III.
As it stands now, Reed is set to make his return to the field next Sunday night, and the timing couldn't be better. With the Redskins coming off their first victory of the season, and a much needed early bye, the team is just one game back in the win column for a share of the NFC East lead, and a victory over Dallas could put them in a tie atop the division.
With no clear-cut number two on this team to take away double teams from star receiver Pierre Garcon, Reed could establish himself as a major threat in the Redskins passing game, and take the next step towards becoming a major force in the much-coveted role of the NFL's new hybrid tight end. Staying healthy will be his biggest challenge as he matures the rest of the season. If he can stay on the field, the Redskins just may have found something special in this young Connecticut native.
No more devistating zone-read,....................no problem. We now have a new "Reed" for this offense to fall back on. "Hello NFL, my name is Jordan, and I am a Joker".