Desperation is sometimes the impetus for experimentation. The best example of this theory focuses on the career of Washington Redskins rookie tight end Jordan Reed (above, middle). He caught five passes for 38 yards in his NFL debut, a Week 1 loss to the Philadelphia Eagles. Reed wasn’t supposed to play a major role for Washington on offense, since veteran Fred Davis has been the longtime starter at tight end. Nevertheless, Reed’s modest stat line in his NFL debut showed that he has some promise.
Of course, Reed got extensive playing time against the Eagles because the Redskins were trying to play catch up most of the game. If you remember, Philadelphia was ahead big in that game and much of Reed’s playing time came with the game well in hand. A situation like this calls for the quarterback to run the offense not necessarily to win the game, but to work on offensive execution.
Now fast forward to Week 7 against the Chicago Bears when Reed becomes instrumental in Washington’s 45-41 victory. He catches nine passes for 134 yards and a touchdown. He also becomes what wide receiver Pierre Garcon has yet to become in Washington: Quarterback Robert Griffin III’s go-to receiver. Reed routinely makes catches that keeps drives alive, like his 10-yard reception that set up running back Roy Helu’s game clinching touchdown run against Chicago.
Reed has 26 receptions for 298 yards and two touchdowns in 2013. His ascension in the passing game has kept Davis on the bench. Reed is younger than Davis and seems to be a better downfield receiver as well. At 6-foot-4, 234 pounds, Reed is a big, athletic target that can also provide efficiency in the red zone. His three-yard touchdown reception against the Bears on a fade route is an prime example of his athleticism.
With Washington reportedly shopping Davis in a trade, the tight end position now belongs to Reed. If he can continue to make plays in the passing game, he will solidify the Redskins’ offense for years to come.