The NFL is currently a vertical passing league. To become successful, teams must be proficient in throwing the deep ball. It was a deep touchdown pass from Baltimore Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco to wide receiver Jacoby Jones against the Denver Broncos in the AFC Divisional Playoff game that began Flacco’s legend. That pass allowed Baltimore to continue its playoff run, which eventually culminated in a Super Bowl victory. It also served as the impetus of Flacco’s recently signed multimillion dollar contract.
But I digress. The Washington Redskins employed a proficient offense in 2012. However, the Redskins based their offensive prowess on their solid ground game, led by running back Alfred Morris, and supplemented by quarterback Robert Griffin III. Washington could face eight or even nine man fronts in an effort to contain the Redskins’ ground attack. That creates opportunities for Griffin III to throw the ball downfield.
Redskins’ offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has limited his young superstar quarterback to only a few deep passes in 2012. That will have to change in 2013 if Washington is to expand on their successful 2012 season. Each of the Redskins’ NFC East rivals has at least one receiver that is a proficient deep threat. The Dallas Cowboys have Dez Bryant, the New York Giants have Victor Cruz, and the Philadelphia Eagles have DeSean Jackson. Each has victimized Washington with long touchdown receptions in recent years. If that doesn’t motivate the Redskins to solidify their vertical passing game, then a return to NFC East basement status won’t be too far off in the near future.
The question is which Washington wide receiver will carry the deep threat mantle? Pierre Garcon could be that receiver, if he’s fully recovered from the right foot injury that marred his 2012 season. Joshua Morgan is more suited for the intermediate passing game. Santana Moss can’t be expected to shoulder the deep passing game burden consistenly, considering that he’ll be 34 years old at the start of the 2013 season.
Wide receivers Leonard Hankerson and Aldrick Robinson have shown flashes of deep receiving ability. However, they lack the consistency needed to justify increased playing time. Considering that Hankerson and Robinson are in their mid-20s, it would be nice if they could polish their game in an effort to solidify the Washington aerial attack.
Redskins’ fans have to remember that the team will have limited cap space to sign free agent wide receivers, as well as a limited number of draft picks. That means improvement from the wide receiver position has to come from within the roster. If someone can emerge as the Redskins’ most consistent deep threat, then Washington will be that much more dangerous in 2013.