Chris Cooley and Santana Moss are carrying more than their share of the load for Redskins' offense

The Washington Post's football insiders look ahead to the Sunday night game against Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts.
By Rick Maese and Barry Svrluga
Washington Post Staff Writers
Thursday, October 14, 2010; 11:49 PM

There hasn't been much consistency to the Washington Redskins' offense this season, but it's been difficult to miss at least a couple of Sunday trends.

For example: "Every time we need a clutch catch or a play made to get a first down," center Casey Rabach said, "it seems like Chris [Cooley] is the guy [Donovan [McNabb] is throwing to."

There's also Santana Moss, lining up on the outside and getting more looks than any other pass catcher.

In fact, if it seems that Moss and Cooley are carrying a disproportionate load in the team's passing attack, it's because they are. Though McNabb has completions to 10 different pass catchers, more than half (54 percent) the receptions are by Moss and Cooley. More than half the team's receiving yards (also 54 percent) have been accumulated by those two.

While the production has certainly been good for Moss and Cooley - both are on pace to post some of their best career numbers - the bigger question concerns the rest of the offense: Do the Redskins need to involve more players in their passing game?

For Redskins Coach Mike Shanahan, the answer is simple: "You just can't have two players," he said.

The Redskins have struggled, though, getting the ball into the hands of others. While they've managed to win three of their first five games this way, defenses likely won't have trouble figuring out Washington's tough-to-miss tendencies.

"You have to have two or three or four more guys that are over 40 [receptions]," said Cooley. "You can't go 90, 70, 20, 20, 20 - where everyone's fitting in one or two catches [per game]. You have to diversify it enough that other guys are making plays."

Through five games, Cooley has 303 yards on 23 catches and is on pace to collect the most receptions (74) since 2008 and the most yards of his career (970). Moss is on pace to have a career-high 93 receptions, plus more than 1,300 yards, which would be the second-most of his 10-year career.

But no other Redskin is on pace for even 30 catches this season. Starting wide receiver Joey Galloway has only seven so far. A season ago, tight end Fred Davis averaged more than four receptions per game when he replaced an injured Cooley, but he has only three catches in five games. In fact, he's been targeted only four times.

"Santana and Cooley may have plays called for them," McNabb said. "Depending on the coverages and the fronts that we get, they will get more opportunities. Other guys are getting more involved as things continue on. You will see more guys step up and make more catches for us."

While the team's reliance on two veteran players isn't particularly surprising, Cooley concedes he wasn't entirely sure what to expect out of this season. He missed the final nine games of 2009 with an ankle injury and didn't know how the new coaching staff would juggle him and Davis.

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