One of the few positives of this disappointing Washington Redskins season has been wide receiver Pierre Garcon. Garcon broke Redskins Hall of Fame receiver Art Monk’s 1984 record for receptions in a single season during Sunday’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys. He’s been one of the Redskins’ few reliable and consistent threats on offense and is proving worth the big money contract that brought him to Washington from Indianapolis two years ago. Garcon has been questioned as a true No. 1 receiver because he is not a deep threat who draws double coverage from the defense. While he might not be in the elite category of receivers in the NFL, he’s not far off. He uses his physicality and route-running ability, combined with explosion after the catch, to make himself the top receiving threat in this offense. Let’s start by looking at his route running.
Here Garcon is running a deep dig pattern off of play-action.
Garcon begins by angling his route inside. The corner opens his hips and drifts inside with the angle of the route.
But then Garcon makes a subtle movement back towards the outside. This causes the defender to get his hips in a terrible position as he attempts to readjust to Garcon’s route.
Garcon then cuts inside as the defender begins to shuffle backwards.
Garcon’s route created separation between him and his defender. Garcon is at least a yard in front of his defender with plenty of space to run into. It’s an easy throw for quarterback Kirk Cousins and an easy first down for Washington.
Garcon has the ability to turn almost on a dime. This helps him greatly with certain routes.
Here, Garcon is running a stop route against the Cowboys best corner, Brandon Carr.
Garcon gets off the line extremely quickly and gets level with Carr early in the route.
Garcon sticks one foot in the ground and is nearly able to fully stop himself from full stride.
That ability to stop so quickly is what got him open on this play. Carr’s momentum took him past the point Garcon stopped. Cousins delivers the ball on time and Garcon has two yards of separation between himself and Carr.
Those route-running abilities are unmatched by any receiver on the Redskins’ roster currently. But it’s not just his route running that makes him so good. His ability to adjust to the ball and make highlight-reel catches (remember the one-handed catch he made against the Broncos earlier in the season?) make him a favorite for whoever is throwing him the ball.
Garcon is running another stop route, like we saw before.
But as Garcon plants his foot to turn towards the ball, he loses footing on the wet field. He slips, but the ball is already on its way from Cousins.
But Garcon doesn’t give up on the play, he locates the ball and notices it’s still catchable.
He reaches out, full stretch, while almost lying down to make the spectacular grab. It was a much-needed catch that gave the Redskins a manageable third down on the next play. Garcon has been making those kinds of catches all year, which gives the quarterback confidence that even if he is slightly off with his throw, Garcon will make the play for him.
Spectacular catches and route running aside, Garcon was brought to Washington for his ability after the catch. He can make people miss in the open field, as we’ve seen numerous times throughout the season. He took full advantage of underneath crossing routes against the Cowboys’ man coverage on Sunday.
Garcon motions from the far side of the field into the position he’s in on the picture above. Carr follows him across the field, telling Washington that Dallas is in man coverage.
Garcon and tight end Logan Paulsen run a ‘pick’, where Garcon crosses underneath Paulsen, who creates traffic for Brandon Carr.
That allows Garcon to get wide open running across the middle, where Cousins finds him in plenty of space. Carr is slowly trailing behind.
Garcon takes the ball all the way down to the 10-yard line before being tackled.
It’s plays like these that any potential new head coach would be wise to run with a talent like Garcon. They allow Garcon to make the most of his best qualities, his route running and ability to pick up yards after the catch. While Mike Shanahan and his staff may be on the way out, they certainly made the right choice on this free-agent acquisition. Garcon is far and away the Redskins’ best receiver. He can get even better if Washington can find a consistent deep threat to play opposite him and give the defense another threat to worry about.
● The Redskins resume practice Thursday at 11:50 a.m. Mike Shanahan, Jim Haslett and Kyle Shanahan are expected to speak with reporters afterward.
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