In an example of lazy analysis by a sports website, The Ringer this week ranked the Redskins pass receiving group as the worst in the NFL.
Here’s exactly what author Danny Heifetz had to say:
WR: Paul Richardson
WR: Josh Doctson
WR: Trey Quinn/Terry McLaurin
RB: Chris Thompson
TE: Jordan Reed
Washington’s receiving corps is moribund. Reed is the only player on this list who had more than 45 catches last year, 2016 first-rounder Doctson has been such a disappointment that the team didn’t pick up his fifth-year option, and Richardson is, to paraphrase the NFL’s new best friend Jay-Z, both underrated and overpaid. Worse, these players have a terrible track record of staying on the field. Injuries defined last year for Richardson, the last two years for Thompson, and entire careers for Reed and Doctson. This is a mediocre group when they are on the field together, and they aren’t together often.
Wow. Heifetz seems to think that Terry McLaurin is primarily a slot receiver. In his commentary, he somehow doesn’t even mention McLaurin’s name. It’s clear that he’s never heard of Robert Davis, Cam Sims or Kelvin Harmon either. I wonder how he got the idea that “injuries defined Doctson’s entire career”, when he played 31 games across the past two seasons?
Also absent from the analysis is the fact that the 2018 receivers worked with four different quarterbacks — a handicap that no other team suffered through — and that the starter, Alex Smith, who is an extremely conservative passer, is no longer behind center in 2019, which should lead to a more robust passing offense. Case Keenum will open up the year as the starter, but sooner or later Dwayne Haskins, who has a big arm and little fear of defensive backs, will be throwing downfield to one of the fastest sets of outside receivers in the league in Richardson and McLaurin.
One huge problem with internet “analysts” is their propensity to only look backward and project previous production in a straight line to the future. To try to predict what the 2019 Redskins passing offense will do by looking at 2018 is likely a futile effort. Too much has changed... for the better.
Related: Kelvin Harmon Can Make Every Catch
Related: Cam Sims - The Forgotten Redskin
No one would call the Redskins receiving group “proven”, but to ignore the potential of this upgraded 2019 group is simply disrespectful. Robert Davis spent his 2018 season on IR with a gruesome Teddy Bridgewater-like leg injury, yet he set the pre-season on fire with TD catches of 46 and 55 yards. Trey Quinn, who also spent most of his rookie season on IR, was not only one of the most productive pass receivers in college, he looked good in the three games he appeared in last season. These two players returning from injury along with, potentially, Cam Sims, should lead to a dramatic improvement in the Redskins 2019 receiving corps.
But the real difference is the addition of two draft picks — the speedy Terry McLaurin, who played his college ball with Dwayne Haskins at Ohio State, and Kelvin Harmon, who is likely to quickly supplant Josh Doctson as the Redskins’ jump ball specialist. These two players have impressed during training camp, with McLaurin, particularly, seeming to have earned a spot among the top 4 wide receivers on the depth chart.
Overlooked in the tight end group is Hall of Famer to be, Vernon Davis, who doesn’t seem to have slowed down since being drafted 14 years ago, and who may be in the best shape of his life. Jordan Reed, of course, is recovering from a concussion caused by the cheapest of cheap hits delivered in the third pre-season game by Keanu Neal. Assuming Reed returns healthy to the field this season, he seems to be a candidate to return to his 2015 form based on training camp reports from basically every reporter, local and national, to have visited Richmond.
The Redskins 2019 receivers are not the same as the Redskins 2018 receivers. Davis, Quinn and Sims are all healthy, and at least two of those players should be on the final roster. McLaurin and Harmon will add new dimensions to the offensive attack. But the biggest change may be the fact that the quarterback throwing the ball will be Case Keenum and/or Dwayne Haskins in 2019 — both of them known for pushing the ball downfield with greater willingness and skill than any of the four quarerbacks — Smith, McCoy, Sanchez and Johnson — who were behind center last year.
It may not be immediately apparent in Week 1, but by mid-season this group of pass catchers — wide receivers, tight ends and running backs — should be very very far from the bottom of the league in skill and production.
I’ll be expecting a followup article from Danny Heifetz and the Ringer when that happens.