With the injury to Santana Moss it was assumed that the young receivers, Terrence Austin, Niles Paul, and Leonard Hankerson, would take a more active role (which has happened somewhat). It was also assumed that the veteran receivers on the roster Anthony Armstrong and Dante Stallworth would be reliable outlets for John Beck, this unfortunately hasn’t happened. In fact both receivers have had a negative impact on the Redskins this season, and should not see the field barring another injury.
Last year Anthony Armstrong was one of the feel good stories of the Washington Redskins, as he had kicked around the league for awhile and for all intents and purposes was a 27 year old rookie. After out playing numerous veterans in camp and during the season he became the Redskins 2nd receiver and 3rd option behind Moss and TE Chris Cooley. Armstrong used his blazing speed to be a viable deep threat, averaging nearly 20 yards (19.8) per catch. While long term he looked to be more of a 3rd or 4th receiver, Armstrong seemed to have a valuable role here, and might even be more of a threat with WR additions Jabar Gaffney, Leonard Hankerson, and Niles Paul. Unfortunately that hasn’t been the case so far as Armstrong has had a really rough season thus far.
For the season Armstrong has been targeted 17 times, but has just 5 receptions to show for it. In fact he has nearly as many drops (3) as he has catches (5). What’s even worse is he hasn’t been productive in those catches. As he has just one catch longer than 10 yards, and has just a 9.4 ypc average. Despite not having a great season it is apparent that Armstrong is still favored by the coaches and Beck. This was evident during the Bills game. Despite being out there for just 16 pass plays, Armstrong was targeted 4 times (which is a high percentage considering some of those 16 pass attempts Beck never even got the ball off), but couldn’t come up with a single catch.
Now a lot of the drop in production has been attributed to Armstrong’s bad hamstring which he injured in week 3, and caused him to miss the next two games, but it can’t all be that. Armstrong didn’t have strong games in the first two weeks, and that was against a depleted Giants secondary and a Cardinals Defense that has given up a lot of big plays. It might be making Armstrong look worse, as he has just 1 catch in 8 targets since returning, but, he’s under performing regardless. Until he begins to show more life, Armstrong’s snaps should be handed out to the three young receivers.
Dante Stallworth on the hand probably shouldn’t even get a second chance, as he has just not looked well for the Redskins on offense this year. While most of his playing time was due to Armstrong’s injury, he still got 8 snaps this past week, which isn’t a lot but still enough to set the Redskins back. In those eight snaps he got an end around and 2 targets, one of which ended embarrassingly when he tripped over himself and the ball was intercepted (note it was a poor throw so even if he doesn’t trip it probably isn’t caught, but he might have been able to prevent the INT). While I respect Stallworth as a veteran and I could see how he makes sense on a more veteran team, filling in for some injuries, he just doesn’t fit in on a team with some developing young talent. He definitely doesn’t deserve a game day roster spot, and should probably be cut so the Redskins can add depth to a weaker position. Not only should Stallworth be benched, but he has no business being active on game days, and could maybe even be cut all together so the team can add depth at another spot.
I know these few plays could seem trivial (though Armstrong tallied 44 plays the week before), but they do add up. And it is apparent that both Armstrong and Stallworth are featured when they are on the field. Yes it is true that Austin, Hankerson and Paul, could make just as many or even more mistakes, but at least those errors can be teachable moments. So while a bad route or a dropped pass still counts the same on Sunday, if one of the young guys are doing it, it can mean more for the future of the Redskins.