I will be doing a position-by-position 2007 Season Review of the Washington Redskins in the coming days/weeks/whenever-I-damn-well-feel-like-it. We'll start with the offense and then move on to the (yikes) defense. Enjoy!
A disappointing year for Redskins' receivers. Best I let the numbers speak for themselves. Below please find the 2005 and 2006 production numbers for our starting WRs and TE. Note the decline in production:
Santana Moss -- 2005: 84 receptions for 1483 yards and 9 touchdowns. 2006: 55 receptions for 790 yards and 6 touchdowns. Some of that discrepency can be explained by injury; he missed 2 games and played injured in another. But the severity of the drop in production is enough to make you wonder, What the deuce happened? He showed signs of brilliance last year, for instance in his 3 touchdown game-winning performance against the Jags, but was otherwise quiet. Or relatively quiet, as we've come to expect greatness from Saint Moss.
Brandon Lloyd -- 2005: 48 receptions for 733 yards and 5 touchdowns. 2006: 23 receptions for 365 yards and zero touchdowns. He didn't play 16 games, though that's his own fault having been benched for a pointless Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalty against the Falcons. Truly a disappointing season for Lloyd who started it as the #2 receiver but finished as the #3. He was supposed to help us spread the field and get double-coverage off of Santana Moss. Instead he went an entire year without a touchdown.
Antwaan Randle-El -- Benign decline with some caveats. 2005: 35 receptions with 558 yards receiving and 1 touchdown. 2006: 32 yards receiving for 351 yards and 3 touchdowns. He went down in receptions and yards but up in touchdowns. The TDs are a positive, though I wonder how much of that is just the result of somebody in Washington having to score. In Pittsburgh there were so many options in last year's Superbowl winners that perhaps Randle-El missed out merely by being a little fish in a big pond of talent. But what the stats damningly show is that Pittsburgh understood how to use a 5'10, 190 pound wide receiver and we don't. Rather than exploiting his speed and open field play making ability, we relegated Randle-El to a possession receiver. And although he dutifully fufilled that role at times, we clearly missed out on his speed when the Steelers did not. 2005 (as a Steeler): 15.9 YPC, 10 receptions for 20+ yards, and 3 for 40+. 2006 (as a Redskin): 11 YPC, 4 receptions for 20+ yards, zero receptions for 40+ yards.
Chris Cooley -- Finally some good news. 2005: 71 receptions for 774 yards and 7 TDs. 2006: 57 receptions for 734 yards and 6 TDs. And while there is a very slight decline in productivity, some things changed for the better. After recording just six 20+ yard receptions and zero 40+ yard receptions in 2005, Cooley managed 12 and 2 respectively. We caught a glimpse of Chris Cooley as the playmaker, combined with his 2005 persona of the sure handed chain-moving touchdown machine. He was clutch on 3rd down this year -- on fourteen 3rd down receptions he converted a whopping thirteen of them for 1st down. He also had over 400 yards after the catch; for comparison Santana Moss had 242.
While their is little question that Santana Moss is the most talented receiver on this team, 2006 belonged to Chris Cooley from the group above. He was a steady performer (despite a rocky start) and had a good rapport with both veteran Mark Brunell and newcomer Jason Campbell. How were his hands?
Brandon Lloyd thrown at 57 times, 23 receptions. Caught 40 percent of his passes.
Antwaan Randle-El thrown at 64 times, 32 receptions. Caught 50 percent of his passes.
Santana Moss thrown at 101 times, 55 receptions. Caught 54 percent of his passes.
Chris Cooley thrown at 94 times, 57 (team high) receptions. Caught 60 percent of his passes.
The good news, briefly (and we're past that already) is that Chris Cooley continues to be a monster and we know that Santana Moss is capable of changing a game on his own. The bad news is that we don't know what we have with Lloyd or Randle-El, yet. And while Coach Gibbs has intimated that Lloyd will return, I'm not sure if that is definite. Even if he does return it isn't clear that he is our #2 receiver. Antwaan Randle-El might have picked his pocket in that regard.
What I do know is that this entire unit is talented enough to win football games. Santana Moss plans on kidnapping Jason Campbell and keeping him captive in Miami so the two can work on timing together. JC will develop timing with the other receivers through the offseason also, as he will be the unquestionable starter of this team and the recipient of the majority of reps in practice. Brandon Lloyd will score a touchdown in 2007, ya heard it here first. Repeating the mediocrity of 2006 would be more shocking than improvement. Whether the team plans on using Antwaan Randle-El correctly is anyone's guess, though I'm hopefully optimistic (or optimistically hopeful) given that I always root for the Burgundy and Gold.
A brief note about James Thrash and David Patten. The latter is gone or paid less in 2007; we simply cannot afford to pay our 3rd-4th WR three million in 2007. That's absurd. "Restructuring" (IE. simply guaranteeing and prorating salary) is not an option since we shouldn't pay him the 1.25M he is owed in base salary in '07. Even if we could, a veteran of his sageness earns a minimum close to that 1.25M, so there really isn't any money to save.
James Thrash is under contract through 2007 and I truly hope we keep him. He had more receiving touchdowns than David Patten, Clinton Portis, Christian Fauria, and Brandon Lloyd combined. He was a 1st down machine when he did come in as 9 of his 12 receptions resulted in moved chains. More important than all that, James Thrash is an excellent blocker as a receiver. For that reason alone I love having him on this team.
Christian Fauria is probably gone but he is also replaceable. I say we get a good blocking tight end in free agency (they're cheap) and turn Todd Yoder into a complement receiving tight end, if only because of all the cool posters his last name would generate on gamedays.
In other news, I'm a big geek.
So what you're saying is... Of the many needs on this team, this unit isn't one of them. If it ain't broke and all that juicy stuff. David Patten is likely gone but not missed and Brandon Lloyd has no place else to go but up. Santana Moss will kidnap Jason Campbell who will go all Patty Hearst and mind-meld with his captor for delicious results in 2007. Chris Cooley will remain Chris Cooley for this year and many to come and you should all be thankful for that. No need to focus here heavily in either free agency or the draft (at all) because we have coachable talent recently upgraded from the practice squad -- I'm thinking Mike Espy has a year. We'll hope for more production and if these guys cannot deliver we'll worry about it in 2008.
2006 Position Grade -- C+
2007 Position Predictoin -- B to B+