One of the biggest things that seems to be getting hype this offseason is how many Redskins receivers and tight ends will end up over the 1,000 yard mark. Now I understand why fans want to assume that the Redskins will have two guys breaking the 1,000 yard mark, but in reality it is a fallacy to believe that the Redskins will have even one guy break a grand. Now this is for three main reasons:
Last year there were only 20 pass catchers to break the 1,000 yard plateau, and that is despite the fact that it is such a “passing league”. While the number varies year to year it is typically between 18-23 guys over the mark. While that may seem like a fair number it really isn’t when you think about how many starting receivers and tight ends there are in the league. Also, this doesn’t take into account just how many teams are represented. Last year only 16 teams had a pass catcher over 1,000 yards, that is just half the league. While that number fluctuates as well it is typically between 14-18.
Twelve of the 20 receivers/tight ends played on teams that were in the top 15 in passing attempts (including any teams that had multiple receivers). Three other players saw their team throw nearly 100 more passing attempts than the Redskins, and just one of the 20 players was on a team that threw fewer pass attempts than the Redskins. The odds (particularly for having multiple guys over 1,000) simply aren’t in their favor. Even if the Redskins were to increase their pass attempts to 500, they still wouldn’t likely have a 1,000 yard guy as just three players on teams with 500 or fewer attempts had 1,000 yards. Some may suggest that the Redskins could be one of those teams, but that brings us to the final point.
Last year the Redskins saw their top four receivers have 57 or more targets last season, and both their top two tight ends had any additional 31+. Now some may say that was due to injuries to Pierre Garcon and Fred Davis, and there is likely some truth to that, but not to the point where the Redskins would have a guy with 100 plus targets. Even if Garcon and Davis were 100% healthy and they were set to get the majority share, they really wouldn’t be in a position to get over 100 targets. They only way that would really occur is if multiple other receivers/tight ends were injured and the Redskins only had their top two targets to throw to. Teams like the Dolphins, Panthers, Bears and 49ers (all teams with 504 or fewer attempts), typically had one receiver with the lionshare of the targets, and then a 2nd option with a good amount, but beyond those two guys there weren’t a lot of additional targets to go around. That won’t be the case with the Redskins. Washington’s top four receivers will all be involved in the offense and likely 2-3 tight ends will be as well. Also, it is worth noting that the share of running back targets last year was very small, but with guys like Roy Helu Jr. back and Chris Thompson in the fold those numbers should go up, further spreading the ball around more.
The answer is of course not (except for fantasy purposes). There is no real correlation between 1,000 yard receivers and team success. Of the 20 receivers and tight ends, 11 of them were on teams that didn’t make the playofffs. Calvin Johnson nearly was a 1,000 yard receiver twice over and had 200 targets thrown his way, yet his team managed just 4 wins. And for those suggesting that increasing the Redskins passing attempts by a lot, in the hopes that it will lead to 1,000 yard receivers, remember just four of the top 10 teams in passing attempts and 5 of the top 15 made the post season.
The Redskins are a run first team and there is nothing wrong with that. It suits their personnel, and style of play, and Mike Shanahan has quite a bit of success when they focus more on running. The Redskins have built their receivers and tight ends to maximize their individual skill sets, and not in an attempt to have a guy get 150+ targets. It’s unlikely for that to change, which is good because it would only make the Redskins weaker. It might be disappointing that the Redskins won’t have a fantasy stud receiver (though Garcon should still have good value), but it’s okay. Cowboys and Giants fans will likely still be able to trash talk about having top receivers like Dez Bryant and Victor Cruz, but won’t be able to say much when the Redskins make the playoffs and Bryant and Cruz are on their vacation already.