Pierre Garcon was always going to have trouble outrunning his price tag, and the Washington Redskins were accused of overpaying for the former Indianapolis Colt before he even donned a Redskins uniform.
Nothing has really changed in that respect, apart from the dissenters’ voices growing louder with each week that Garcon is out.
The inflammation under the joint capsule in his second toe—sustained in the first quarter of the first game this year—has kept him in some state of injury since Week 1, and progress since then has been very slow.
The absence of Garcon appears to immediately justify the negative comments, with Bleacher Report’s own Josh Zerkle and Mike Schottey declaring him one of, if not the biggest free-agent bust this year.
Garcon’s eight catches for 15 yards and a touchdown certainly don’t indicate that he is the No. 1 receiver the Redskins thought they were getting in the offseason. However, the fact that he has only been healthy for 15 minutes of the regular season should grant him a pass so far.
It would even be acceptable to call him a bust if he had a history of injuries. Buying an injury-prone player for a huge sum of money is something that the Redskins would do, right?
However, when looking at Garcon’s career, he had only missed three games as a starter before arriving in Washington. During preseason and up until he ran for an 88-yard touchdown in New Orleans, no one said he was poor value.
He quickly developed a connection with Robert Griffin III in camp and through the preseason, and up until he left the field in Week 1 he was the rookie quarterback’s go-to receiver, no question. In theory, this hasn’t changed.
He broke 109 yards and a touchdown from four catches—in the first eight plays of the game—and those are the only statistics on which he should be judged so far. That is the only time he has been healthy. A foot injury is always going to be a problem for a receiver, as it automatically reduces their ability to get open.
It’s true that his record doesn’t point to the safest hands in the league—ProFootballFocus.com ranks him in the bottom 10 in terms of drop percentage from 2008-10—but it was evident that he came back too soon.
It didn’t help him that Griffin threw behind him at least twice against Atlanta, making Garcon’s task more difficult than it needed to be. It’s not about apportioning blame, but the statistics aren’t always the end of the discussion.
The wide receiver currently finds himself in an incredibly frustrating position. Since his touchdown in the Superdome, the Redskins have played 387 snaps; Garcon has played 88, registering four catches for 44 yards (via The Washington Post).
He wants to play; no one is questioning him there. He has tried to battle through the pain and has been both a limited and full participant in practice since Week 1. However, it finally took Shanahan to tell him not to play last week before a decision was made.
Speaking to Mike Jones at The Washington Post, Shanahan explained his reasoning:
We’re going to hopefully give him a little time, get that thing healed. How long it will take? I don’t know. One, two days? Two, three weeks? I don’t know. But he’s a tough guy. You watch him go through preseason, you watch him go through the OTA days, he’s a very physical player, and if he could go, he would go.
But at the same time, I don’t want to set him back for the rest of the season. So I told him, ‘Hey, when you’re ready and you feel like you can go.’ We’ll help him as much as we can with treatment and those things, and get him ready to play.
If Garcon is out for the rest of the year then it will be immensely disappointing, but he still doesn’t deserve to be tagged as a bust. If the injury persists and dominates next year then yes, that guaranteed money starts to look wasteful, especially in the wake of the cap penalty.
However, watching a Garcon-less Redskins, it’s obvious that they need him on the field. His physicality, speed and presence at the line are all missed, especially given the Redskins’ recent failure to convert on third down.
He isn’t RG3’s go-to receiver, but he’s still the Redskins' No. 1. He just isn’t on the field right now.