LANDOVER, MD - OCTOBER 7: Pierre Garcon #88 of the Washington Redskins runs the ball against the Atlanta Falcons at FedExField on October 7, 2012 in Landover, Maryland. The Falcons defeated the Redskins 24-17. (Photo by Larry French/Getty Images)
After quarterback Robert Griffin III, wide receiver Pierre Garcon was the Redskins' biggest offseason acquisition. The former Colts pass catcher was supposed to give Washington a legit No. 1 receiver and help ease RGIII's transition from college to the NFL.
Instead, Garcon has missed three of the 'Skins' first six games with a toe injury. And in the three games he's seen the field, he's managed just eight receptions for 153 yards and one touchdown. A toe injury sounds minor but it's been debilitating -- keepGarcon on the sidelines, and coach Mike Sherman isn't sure when he'll return.
“That toe is just quite sore, and you can see when he’s pushing off, when he goes downfield, he’s just not anywhere close to full speed,” Shanahan said, according to the Washington Post. “I saw it in Wednesday’s practice and saw it in Thursday’s practice, and I talked to him and he’s trying to work through it. But it’s just a little painful. So hopefully with rest, and maybe a little bit of time off, he’ll be ready to go and it’ll heal well.”
Specifically how much time off?
"I don't know," Shanahan conceded.
It's never good news when a team loses its No. 1 receiver. But the Redskins still have Griffin who, if he maintains his current pace, is looking at something in the neighborhood of 3,500 passing yards, 1,000 rushing yards, 16 rushing TDs and 13 passing TDs. You know who else has accomplished that? Nobody in the history of professional tackle football.
A lot can change over the final two-and-a-half months -- the schedule gets tougher, the weather turns colder, and there's always the looming fear that Griffin could take another big hit that lands him on the bench. But even with Garcon active for only half the games, RGIII has completed 70.2 percent of his throws, which is the best in the NFL. He's also thrown passes to 13 receivers, and the Baylor-inspired read-option offense doesn't require Griffin to rely heavily on this downfield threats. In fact, tight end Fred Davis leads the team in receptions with 23.
Granted, Garcon was in the lineup for both of RGIII's 300-yard passing games (both wins), but there's reason for optimism. According to Football Outsiders, Josh Morgan is the team's most efficient wide receiver, but he ranks 35th in the league. Santana Moss is 52nd, and Leonard Hankerson is 71st.
Put another way: Griffin's high completion percentage is a function of high-percentage throws, and that mitigates the need for big-play wideouts. It's not ideal, but the running game and Griffin's dual-threat abilities are the two greatest equalizers to a traditional passing game. Plus, Garcon and Aldrick Robinson rank first and second among wideouts with fewer than 15 passes thrown in their direction.
Now the task becomes getting Garcon and Robinson back as soon as possible. The 'Skins face the Giants this week, the Steelers and Panthers in Weeks 8 and 9, and after a Week 10 bye, they're in the thick of their division schedule.