In the first game of the year, the offseason allure of showcasing two tall receivers proved to be nothing but fantasy football for the Redskins. In a 30-17 loss to the Eagles on Sunday, Terrelle Pryor Sr. was inconsistent and Josh Doctson was nowhere to be found.
When the Redskins play the Rams at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum this weekend, they should return to the scheme that best suits quarterback Kirk Cousins — dialing up mid-range throws to Jordan Reed, Chris Thompson and Jamison Crowder.
Don’t force the ball to Pryor, who lost a sure touchdown somewhere in the sky early Sunday. Pryor had 1,007 yards last year but caught just 55 percent of his targets (77 of 140). He posted the same percentage Sunday with six grabs on 11 targets.
Disregard Doctson, too. He’s in the doghouse and played on just 32 percent of the offense’s snaps against Philadelphia.
In two red zone trips, Washington managed a field goal and a devastating late interception. Cousins connected on just one of eight deep throws Sunday, a 16-yarder to Ryan Grant. Long attempts have never been Cousins’ strength, but last year DeSean Jackson’s speed made the long ball work.
Crowder, Thompson and Reed have always been Cousins’ safety net in the middle of the field. Cousins had three completions of more than 20 yards, and all three came from short throws, including a 29-yard touchdown that Thompson created with a spin move.
The short game is where Cousins thrives. The Redskins can’t exclusively throw dump-off passes and slants because defenses would just sit on those routes, but the offense at least needs to be more discerning with its deep shots.
An awful effort from the offensive line certainly didn’t help. Cousins often threw off his back foot and released the ball high because he faced persistent pressure.
In his return to play-calling, coach Jay Gruden asked too much of Cousins. The offensive output in the preseason and season opener against the Eagles has proved that Jackson and Pierre Garcon made Cousins look good with the long ball last year.
The offense needs to utilize more quick passes and bubble screens and put an emphasis on dink-and-dunk throws in Los Angeles on Sunday.
Otherwise, the passing game will remain grounded.
Divvying up receptions
Here’s how Redskins receivers fared Sunday, listed in the order of times they were targeted.
- Terrelle Pryor Sr.: 11 targets (six catches for 66 yards)
- Jordan Reed: 8 targets (five catches for 36 yards)
- Jamison Crowder: 7 targets (three catches for 14 yards)
- Ryan Grant: 6 targets (four catches for 61 yards)
- Chris Thompson: 5 targets (four catches for 52 yards, one TD)
- Brian Quick: 1 target (one catch for 11 yards)
- Rob Kelley: 1 target (0 catches)
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