How Do the Washington Redskins Replace Fred Davis?
Maybe it's just a symptom of panic, but there's a classic fallacy that losing a player means losing every catch, yard and touchdown or sack, tackle and interception that player would have made for the remainder of the season.
Of course, when we stop hyperventilating and regain logic, the majority of us realize that such losses literally never have that effect. This is why the sabermetric-happy world of baseball gave us an actual statistic to measure one's value over a typical replacement player (VORP).
So while Fred Davis—who appears to be lost for the season after suffering a torn left Achilles tendon Sunday in New York (per the Associated Press, h/t WashingtonPost.com)—was extremely valuable to the Washington Redskins offense, it's important to keep in mind that his VORP might not have been high enough to create a dilemma in D.C.
A few factors at play:
Robert Griffin III might be capable of creating another Fred Davis
Beyond RG3, Davis was the most important cog in the Redskins' passing game. Prior to going down, he led the team with 24 catches and 325 yards. But the reality is that Griffin does significantly more for everyone on this offense than any of them do for him.
Griffin was using Davis as his safety valve. And then, on Sunday against the Giants, Davis was no longer there and backup Logan Paulsen was.
Paulsen, who had 170 career receiving yards in three seasons to that point, immediately became the second-most targeted player on the offense. He caught four of the five passes thrown his way (per Pro Football Focus) and wound up with 76 yards, which was obviously a career high.
The point is that so long as a guy is capable of running relatively crisp routes and catching the football, if Griffin wants to hit him, he'll hit him. I don't mean to imply that a particularly talented chimpanzee can play tight end for the Washington Redskins, but the majority of NFL-caliber pass-catchers can get the job done despite not having the skill set possessed by Davis.
Chris Cooley returns
It should also be noted that Paulsen is a better blocker than Davis. Sure, Davis was improving in this area, but PFF rates Paulsen as the fourth-best run-blocker on the team. He has work to do as a pass-blocker, but so did Davis.
Throw Cooley into the mix (he's expected to sign Monday, per The Washington Post), and suddenly the Redskins will be featuring tight ends who might be better equipped to help Alfred Morris succeed while not losing anything in pass protection.
Just another way in which such a loss is mitigated.
Pierre Garcon might eventually, maybe, hopefully return
Remember that the 'Skins already have one of the highest-scoring offenses in the league despite the fact that their big-money free-agent acquisition has been sidelined for about 80 percent of the season due to a foot injury suffered in the season opener.
Wide receivers can't really replace tight ends in a classic sense, but if/when Garcon is able to contribute, the Redskins will receive an upgrade on offense.
That, again, will help mitigate losing Davis.
This team is nothing if not resilient
Who will step up most now that Fred Davis is out?
The offense has done more than survive this year despite not having much of Garcon and having none of Jammal Brown. And the team as a whole has battled through injuries to those two, as well as defensive starters Brian Orakpo, Adam Carriker and Brandon Meriweather.
It might appear as though the football gods are ganging up on the Redskins, but they've had a successful season despite those absentees. Consider the character being instilled in a young team by having to fight through moments like these.
Who's to say Washington can't make another seamless transition here?
So while there might not be another player on the Washington roster capable of filling Davis' shoes entirely on his own, the loss probably won't be significant enough to cost the team any games in the win column. And in the process, it could actually work to further build up its confidence.
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