Washington Redskins’ Passing Game Efficient, If Not Spectacular

By Greg Bradshaw
Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins are on the brink of an NFC East divisional title thanks to the steady play of rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III.  His precision passing, along with his efficiency running the football, has enabled the Redskins to become one of the NFL’s most potent offenses.

While Washington ranks first in the NFL in rushing offense, the passing game is a pedestrian 18th in the NFL. Considering that the NFL is currently a league that places great emphasis on passing, it’s amazing how the Redskins are maintaining a 9-6 record with an average passing game.  Washington’s defense, while playing better in recent weeks, is still among the worst in the league statistically. The Redskins’ defense ranks 28th in total yards allowed. That statistic only makes the current fortune of the Redskins even more surprising, as the team is currently enjoying a six-game winning streak.

However, the Redskins’ passing game has contributed greatly to the team’s success in 2012. Wide receiver Pierre Garcon has been playing well of late after an injury-plagued season. He leads the team in receiving yardage with 587 yards. Wide receiver Joshua Morgan has been a solid performer for his hometown Redskins, leading the team in receptions with 48. He also leads the team with 29 receptions resulting in first downs.

Wide receiver Santana Moss was supposed to have a reduced role at the wide receiver position for Washington. At 33, he still continues to provide consistency for the Redskins, leading the team in touchdown receptions with eight.  In addition, wide receiver Leonard Hankerson has contributed to the passing game as well. With Griffin III unable to play Week 15 against the Cleveland Browns due to a right knee injury, Hankerson caught two touchdown passes from backup quarterback Kirk Cousins to spark Washington to victory over the Browns.

Garcon, Morgan, Moss, and Hankerson illustrate the Redskins’ philosophy of spreading the ball around. Each receiver has recorded at least 500 receiving yards in 2012. While their individual totals barely eclipse the total receiving yardage of Detroit Lions’ wide receiver Calvin Johnson, it proves the ability of each receiver to contribute to the passing game.  Opponents of the Lions can try to double team Johnson, but the Redskins have four receivers that can get open and make receptions in an effort to move the offense.

Washington will need their receivers to remain efficient.  They face the Dallas Cowboys in the season finale, with the NFC East title at stake. While Griffin III will play in the game, it’s hard to imagine he’ll be able to play at the level he achieved during the first Redskins-Cowboys game. If Griffin III can continue his precision passing, maybe a Herculean effort from the superstar quarterback won’t be necessary to defeat Dallas. Then, the Redskins can celebrate their first NFC East title since 1999.

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