4 Reasons Pierre Garcon Should Be the Redskins' Top Receiver in 2012
Mike Shanahan may have put his stamp on the zone, one-cut run scheme that he championed during his time in Denver. But for the Washington Redskins in 2012, it's all about scoring points through the air.
Robert Griffin III's throwing prowess has been well-documented up to this point and, though it may not be the most star-studded host of roster additions to arrive in Ashburn this summer (which could turn out to be a good thing), there's no arguing the Redskins have improved their offensive personnel.
Chief among the newer faces at Redskins park is fifth-year receiver Pierre Garcon.
The former Colt is fresh off a career season after pulling in 70 receptions for 947 yards. While that may not be a Calvin Johnson-esque stat line, one can't help but notice the progression Garcon has managed since his rookie season in 2008.
Robert Griffin III may be a phenom and potential game-changer, but this isn't an old Looney Tunes episode. And where Bugs Bunny could literally play an entire game of baseball by himself, RG3 is, unfortunately, going to need the help of a bevy of skill players.
Other than Griffin III, Garcon may well be the most important skill player for the Redskins in 2012.
Here are four reasons why.
He's Only Gotten Better Since 2008
The NFL is a meat grinder.
It's a constant uphill climb for players to better their production from year to year much less stay healthy. Garcon, so far, has managed to beat the odds.
Since debuting as a rookie out of Mount Union in 2008, Garcon has only seen his stock rise.
In 2010, Garcon caught 67 passes for 784 yards and 11.7 yards per catch. Compare that to 2011 when Garcon reeled in 70 passes for 947 yards and an average of 13.5 yards per catch.
It may be reading between the lines a bit and it certainly has polarized Redskins fans since it was announced that he was arriving in DC, but the fact that Garcon put up career numbers with an unknown like Curtis Painter slinging the rock is something that just can't be ignored.
With a potential superstar under center and several other capable receiver options lining up next to him, there's no reason to think that Garcon can't continue his steady climb and break 1,000 yards receiving for the first time in 2011.
Unlike the slew of past superstars who were on the decline when they arrived in DC, Garcon is a player just settling into his prime whose best years are still ahead of him.
He's Not as Old as Moss and Not as Green as Hankerson
So, Garcon seems to provide a sense of balance at the wide receiver position.
Santana Moss, now 33, is said to have shed something in the neighborhood of 10 pounds this offseason and is speedier than he has been in several seasons.
Leonard Hankerson, the second year man out of the U, looks to improve on a rookie season that displayed flashes of true talent but was largely a disappointment.
Long story short: Moss is not the player he used to be and Hankerson is still trying to find his footing in the pro game.
Sure, there's Josh Morgan newly acquired from San Francisco and Anthony Armstrong to consider, but it would take a monster year from either of those guys to leap frog Garcon and take the top receiver spot.
Garcon is 25 and largely injury free. At 6'0", 210 pounds, he can line up inside or on the perimeter and has the necessary burst of speed to break off big chunks of yardage.
He's the right age and has the physical make-up to cement himself as a versatile receiving threat.
A Santana Moss renaissance is not out of the question, though it's not very likely either. On the flip side, Leonard Hankerson has all the potential in the world to become a great wide receiver but his game needs to make several huge leaps forward in order for that to happen.
In short, Garcon has everything on paper that you look for in a guy to anchor your receiving corps. If he can distance himself from the injury bug, he figures to be a mainstay in Kyle Shanahan's offense for years to come.
Money Talks and so Does His Contract
There are more than a few detractors out there who claim that Garcon is nothing more than a No. 2 or 3 receiver who enjoyed success on a Colts team that benefited from having one of the greatest quarterbacks ever lined up under center.
The Shanahans, Bruce Allen and Dan Snyder are not among them.
This past March, Garcon inked a 5-year, $42.5 million contract with $21.5 million of that reportedly being guaranteed money.
As far as his W-2's are concerned, Garcon is a big-time player in the NFL.
Still, guaranteed money doesn't guarantee on-field production. Albert Haynesworth taught us all that lesson.
While the size of his contract is certainly a boon to his bank account, it should also make Garcon aware of the sizable expectations laid upon him here in DC.
You don't get paid $40 million+ only to slack off and let your stat line sag. That's not the way to do business, especially when you're now a valued member of a franchise trying to reinvent itself via youth movement.
With a big payday now secured, it's up to Garcon to validate himself as a worthwhile investment.
Say, to the tune of 1,110 yards receiving and 12 TD's. I don't think the Redskins brass planned on cutting a check for anything less than that.
It's Time for Him to Be a No. 1 Threat
This sounds, uh, simple. Simple but true.
Five years in, Garcon is ready to step out from under the shadows of Reggie Wayne and Marvin Harrison that long loomed over the Indianapolis landscape.
In DC, Garcon will get a chance to cast his own.
There is talent here, up and down the board. Moss may yet have a couple good years left in him and young, ready-to-break talents like Morgan and Hankerson need only a little more experience and a little extra motivation.
Fred Davis, Chris Cooley and new blood Niles Paul will have a huge hand in adding versatility to this offense from the tight end position.
Garcon is ideally placed to help facilitate all of this.
Many, including a good percentage of Redskins nation, are not yet 100 percent sold that Garcon can make the transition from sidekick to point man.
I think he'll make us all believers.
He's a solid combination of size and speed and now, having landed a central role on a franchise that is almost completely powered by young, up-and-coming talent, Garcon has a chance to become a core reactor in this newly-fueled Redskins machine.
It's been a coming-of-age story for Garcon up until now and I think in 2012 we'll see him author his best chapter yet.