Why A Receiver Isn’t the Answer
If you talk to most Redskins fans you will hear them talk of adding a top receiver should be a top priority for the Redskins and that it will help fix their offensive woes. In fact before the McNabb benching debacle, most fans hoped that a big play receiver would be the top draft or free agent priority. The problem with that line of thinking is it ignores the truth about where the Redskins really stand, and what is most important for building a team.
The simple fact is a receiver doesn’t rank in the Redskins top 5 among offensive needs (RT, C, RG, LG, QB for those scoring at home) currently. Now it might be a bit more pressing if Santana Moss leaves via free agency, but even if that is the case the Redskins don’t need to spend $10 million a year on a free agent or the 10th overall pick in the draft. While elite receivers are fun to watch and great to reminisce about, they don’t equal winning.
Look around the league and most of the top receivers had their seasons end in Week 17 (obviously a few notable exceptions):
Steve Smith (Panthers): Sure age is catching up to Smith, but his age wasn’t the factor into why he posted his worst offensive numbers and the Panthers ended up with the leagues worst record.
Larry Fitzgerald (Cardinals): Fitzgerald actually had a good season, but one man can not carry an offense. Bad O-line, QB, and RB play doomed this team.
Andre Johnson (Texans): Well you really can’t blame the offense and Johnson, Foster and Schaub did everything in their power to make the Texans contenders, their defense collapsed though.
Calvin Johnson (Lions): Johnson did well, and made three quarterbacks look great, unfortunately the offensive line was so bad that they couldn’t keep any QB healthy enough to make a run.
Miles Austin/Dez Bryant/Roy Williams (Cowboys): Austin is the true star, but it’s worth noting that even with Williams, and Bryant (not to mention great backs and Jason Witten), they weren’t able to overcome the inefficiencies of their offensive line and defense. Bryant could be a star in the making, but not taking a tackle or CB last year meant the Cowboys watched the Super Bowl in their own home town, from the stands and at home.
Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens (Bengals): Now dysfunction had something to do with this, but the point is despite adding these extra weapons (including using a couple high draft picks) the Bengals passing offense (entire offense) was a joke.
Brandon Lloyd (Broncos): Lloyd isn’t in the star category as Redskins fans well know, but it is worth mentioning that the Broncos woes had nothing to do with the loss of Brandon Marshall (them not capitalizing on some of the trade return is another story).
Michael Crabtree (49ers): Crabtree has basically been as good as advertised (though not an elite receiver just yet), but the play of the 49ers quarterbacks (as well as the implosion of the team) meant that they will be picking 7th this April.
Kenny Britt (And part of Randy Moss) (Titans): Britt is quickly becoming a star receiver (not fully there yet), that would have been well over 1,000 yards had he not missed 4 plus weeks with injury. The thing is though they added Randy Moss during that time and he did absolutely nothing. The Titans also have a good 2nd (or 3rd when Moss was there) option in Nate Washington, a good offensive line, and the best back in the league.
Percy Harvin/Sidney Rice (part of the season)/Randy Moss (part of the season): Now Moss was no doubt a cancer this past year, but even with Harvin and 1/3 a year of Rice this team wasn’t a contending team. Too many institutional issues, not to mention quarterback play and the weak offensive line led to the Vikings downfall.
Vincent Jackson and Malcolm Floyd: Now Jackson really only played the last 4 weeks of the season and Floyd missed a number of weeks, but the fact of the matter is not having star receivers for a good chunk of the year didn’t set the Chargers back. Jackson and Floyd weren’t the only players missing as, Gates missed significant time as did some of the replacement receivers, through it all Phillip Rivers threw for over 4,700 yards. While the Chargers might have made the playoffs if all their receivers were healthy (and Jackson didn’t hold out, the real issue with this team was their running game, and offensive line. And for those who say well the Chargers went 3-1 during those last 4 weeks with Vincent Jackson, just take one look at who they were playing. They beat the Chiefs, who were without Matt Cassel, the 49ers who were in complete disarray at that point, and the Broncos who were led by a rookie quarterback and a brand new head coach. They also lost to the Bengals in that stretch, which shows that Chargers maybe weren’t as good as people gave them credit for. San Diego should have won those games if they picked fans out of the stands to run routes for Rivers, so I have a hard time really saying that Jackson had some momentous impact at the end of the season.
It might be fun to think about drafting Julio Jones or Jonathan Baldwin and/or signing Vincent Jackson, Santonio Holmes, or Sidney Rice, but any one of those players (even two of them) aren’t going to make the Redskins contenders. Washington has way to many needs to spend a big chunk of their offseason resources (money and picks) on receivers. Now I don’t think they shouldn’t address the position, guys like Mike Sims Walker, Steve Breaston, etc. could be good values (depending on their price tag). No the Redskins might not get that true number 1 wideout, but they can improve their corps, and with a better all around team, they will be closer to competing.