One of the few offensive bright spots for the Redskins week 1 was the play of rookie TE Jordan Reed. Reed missed all of the offseason program prior to training camp and even some time once camp started, so the expectations were low for him from the start, but he had an impressive opening game performance for the Redskins. Reed caught 5 passes for 38 yards, including some nice clutch catches. Reed actually led all Redskins tight ends that game in targets, catches and yards, and should be in line for more playing time going forward.
Now the team isn’t going to give up on Fred Davis, but it is clear that Davis probably can’t handle a full game workload at this point, so why not use Reed some more while Davis recovers more fully from his Achilles injury. Reed showed good route running and a feel for putting himself in position to help his quarterback, both of which I was pretty impressed with. Given Reed’s athleticism, the Redskins should be working on finding ways to get him open for short quick strikes that can help Robert Griffin get in a better rhythm. As we saw week one, Griffins accuracy down the field was troublesome at times, but he can hit some of those shorter routes and this is where Reed can shine. It also would mean that Griffin isn’t getting exposed as much to pressure, which is another key takeaway from week 1.
The Redskins shouldn’t overload Reed early on, but I believe they can find packages where they use him, both with Fred Davis off the field, and when they are out there together. With Davis likely drawing the more attention from defenses, Reed could have a field day in those sorts of situations, and these are the things the Redskins need to do to help generate more of an offense as they are shaking off the rust to start the season. Using Reed out of a variety of positions could also be key in getting him more involved in the offense. Having him run routes from the slot, split out wide, in-line and an H-back role, will help confuse defenses. Again with Reed being young and inexperienced you can’t expect him to be able to function in every play, but creating a package around him in these various roles could be a good step going forward.
The key for Reed to be more involved though actually may have little to do with his route running or receiving ability. Reed was able to get so much playing time do in part to the fact that the Redskins were down and more or less abandoning the run. Of Reed’s 24 snaps 19 of them were passing plays, so he really wasn’t asked to run block. This is the weakness of Reed and an area he needs to build upon. He’s never going to be a great blocker and doesn’t even need to be an average blocker this season, he just can’t be a horrible blocker. If he can improve slightly here, it will help him stay on the field as the Redskins are going to want to get back to their running ways.
This week in particular could be a good week for Jordan Reed as 49ers pass catching TE Vernon Davis had 6 catches for 98 yards and 2 TD’s versus the Packers last week. While it is doubtful Reed will match those numbers given the fact that Fred Davis will be in the mix some as well, it is clear that the tight ends pose a mismatch for the Packers linebackers and secondary, and the Redskins could take an advantage here. This is where using Reed and Davis together could pay dividends as one of them likely could get open against this defense.