Why Not Make Santana Moss The Primary Punt Returner?

By Greg Bradshaw
Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports

The Washington Redskins‘ special teams unit has been disastrous in 2013. Incompetent kick return coverage, as well as having one punt and two field goal attempts blocked, are proof positive of the preceding statement. Although special teams’ coach Keith Burns is in his first season, the NFL  is a league where immediate results are expected commodities. Simply put, Burns could find himself out of a job if his unit doesn’t wuickly improve.

One area where Washington needs some sort of spark is punt returns. Rookie Chris Thompson has been nonexistent, averaging only five yards per return in 2013. He was placed on injured reserve due to a left shoulder injury that requires surgery, thus ending his season. Wide receiver Joshua Morgan is doing slightly better, averaging seven yards per return on punts. However, he doesn’t have the breakaway ability the Redskins have lacked at the position.

Washington should consider letting wide receiver Santana Moss return punts. This isn’t a foreign concept for Moss, who joined the Redskins in 2005 after spending his first four NFL seasons with the New York Jets. While Moss has made his reputation as a solid receiver for Washington, he is averaging 11 yards per punt return for his career. He has also scored three career touchdowns, including an 80 yard return for a touchdown in 2008 against the Detroit Lions.

A punt return for a touchdown five years ago against a Lions’ team that would go win-less is hardly the basis of choosing a punt returner. Moss being 34 years old doesn’t solidify the case for making him the Redskins’ primary punt returner either. Still, Moss is the Redskins’ only proven commodity concerning special teams. Besides, he isn’t getting a lot of repetition in the Redskins’ receiving offense. Wide receiver Leonard Hankerson and tight end Jordan Reed are helping primary receiver Pierre Garcon shoulder the offensive receiving load. That was a load that Moss used to handle before last season.

At 3-6, the season is almost at a loss for the Redskins. They’re not playing at a consistent enough level to duplicate last season’s seven game winning streak. They would have nothing to lose using Moss to return punts. If he adds some sort of consistency returning punts, maybe it could be the spark Washington needs to get them out of their current doldrums.

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