Now dial up the expectations a few more notches. Redskins personnel executive Doug Williams was asked this week whether it’s possible this year’s receiving group could be better than “The Posse,” one of the most fabled position groups in franchise history.
“Oh, there’s no doubt about it,” Williams told Al Galdi on ESPN 980. “I mean, I’m not biased at all. I’m a real realistic individual. You’re talking about instant offense in DeSean Jackson. You’re talking about one of the toughest guys in Pierre Garcon. You’re talking about Jamie Crowder, who came in and had a heck of a year. And [Josh] Doctson is a rookie coming in here that can do some things. And then I didn’t even mention Jordan Reed, and then you’ve got Vernon Davis who is double jeopardy at tight end. Oh, ain’t no doubt about it.”
Golly. Art Monk is in the Hall of Fame, and leads the Redskins in all-time receiving yards and catches. Gary Clark and Ricky Sanders are both in the top seven in both categories, with Clark having three of the nine highest single-season Redskins yardage totals. The Posse has been considered one of the 10 best receiving groups in the history of the NFL, and helped spark Washington to two Super Bowl wins. In those two games, the trio combined for 28 catches, 556 yards and four touchdowns.
I mean, golly. Those aren’t small accomplishments to live up to.
As it turns out, Coach Jay Gruden was also asked about his receivers this week.
“When you have a progression-based system like we have, it’s good to know you can go from one progression to another and that person should win,” Gruden said on ESPN 980. “They’re all different, too. Pierre is a physical-type receiver who wins different ways. Jordan Reed’s obviously a special guy. Crowder’s a shifty, quick guy. DeSean’s got the flat-out speed. Now you add Doctson, who’s got the size. So we’ve got different guys who can win in different ways, which is exciting.”
Williams was a bit more circumspect when asked about Kirk Cousins, saying the starter was a work in progress in the early part of last season, and that he needs to be surrounded by a better defense. But he said Cousins has carried over his mentality from last winter’s playoff run.
“Watching him in the [organized team activities] and the minicamp, his confidence level at this point is off the charts, because he realizes it’s his team,” Williams said. “He has some weapons to play with, and just watching him throw the football over the last couple weeks, you can see his confidence level has went sky high.”
Williams, of course, is in the team building at Redskins Park, and throughout Robert Griffin III’s tenure, reporters noted that the quarterback didn’t seek advice from his elder. That came up again this offseason, after Griffin joined the Browns. But Williams said he also isn’t in the business of giving guidance to Cousins.
“No, I stay out of that lane,” Williams said. “But what I do is I encourage him and let him know when I thought he had a good day, good throws or what have you, and I go on. With Sean [McVay] and Jay and Matt [Cavanaugh], I think it’s only fair to stay in your lane, and that’s exactly what I do.”
Williams also said he doesn’t think it’s feasible for the Redskins to rely on their passing game without a running complement.
“With all the weapons that we do have offensively, from Jordan Reed to DeSean Jackson and all those guys, I think we’ve got to be able to run the football,” Williams said. “If we run the football, Kirk Cousins would be real real effective.”
Gruden also discussed the same matter.
“The object is to get the ball from where you are to the end zone, however you do that. A lot of our quick game throws, people don’t understand, are extensions of the running game. We might have a run play called, but if they load up the box we’re not going to run our running back into a slaughter; we’re going to throw it. We have Jordan Reed, DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, Jamison Crowder. We’re going to work the matchups. We’re not going to run Alfred last year or Matt Jones this year into an eight-man box. … I think the pass can set up the run equally as much as the run can set up the pass, and there has to be a fine balance there, and we have to utilize it.”