The modern day NFL is a passing league. Teams like the New York Giants, Green Bay Packers, and the New Orleans Saints have set the standard for passing excellence. Each of those teams have prolific quarterbacks in Eli Manning, Aaron Rodgers, and Drew Brees that can throw either the deep ball or intermediate passes efficiently in an effort to score points.
The Washington Redskins have a potential franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III. While his passing game has been efficient, it hasn’t translated into short term success. The Redskins are currently ranked 23nd in the NFL in passing yardage. Contributing to that statistic is the absence of wide receiver Pierre Garcon, who injured his foot Week One against the Saints.
Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has stepped up his production, leading Washington in receptions with 26. He has been Griffin III’s favorite target in the intermediate passing game, considering that fourteen of his 26 catches have resulted in first downs.
However, he has only one touchdown catch, a 68 yard reception Week Two against the St. Louis Rams. That proves he has the speed to catch the deep ball, which Griffin III can throw with efficiency. At six foot two, he has the size to become an effective red zone target. Against the Carolina Panthers Week Nine, Hankerson would have been effective during the goal to go scenario in the second quarter of the game.
With Washington trailing 7-3, the Redskins were deep in Carolina territory driving for a touchdown. Griffin III could have called a fade passing route to Hankerson, who could use his height against the Panthers’ defenders to catch the pass. But Hankerson’s number was never called. On fourth down, Griffin III tried to run a sweep to the right, and was stopped short of the goal line.
The Redskins are not a good enough team to squander such opportunities. If they are to achieve sustained offensive success, Hankerson will have to continue to play a huge role. Plays need to be called sending Hankerson deep down the field. If Griffin III and Hankerson can connect on some big plays down the field, that will alleviate some pressure on the Redskins’ passing game.