There is an underlying factor in the Washington Redskins season that could be as much of a coincidence as it is trivial. The fact remains the same—when Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garcon plays, the team has won all but one game this season.
It's called "The Garcon Factor."
Garcon was the biggest free agent signing by the 'Skins in March 2012. His deal was a whopping five-year, $42.5 million with an $11 million signing bonus. Adding him to the receiving corps was considered an ideal fit for rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, who has targeted Garcon on 53 passes this season.
Despite missing nearly half of the season with a ruptured ligament under his second toe on his right foot, Garcon has 34 catches for 498 yards and four touchdowns in eight games. These statistics alone are not entirely impressive, but what is impressive is Garcon makes plays for the 'Skins when they need big plays.
The injury to Garcon is much more than "turf toe", and surgery has not been ruled out during the offseason. His injury status was one of the first topics addressed in nearly every press conference Coach Mike Shanahan held during his six-game absence.
Garcon averages 14.6 yards per catch and 60 percent result in a first down. In the games Garcon has played and the 'Skins have trailed in the game, his statistics are staggering and he has been fundamental in the turnaround—11 catches for 247 yards. Nine of the 11 catches have resulted in first downs and his average per catch is 22.5 yards.
His much anticipated return to action was in Week 11 in the first Redskins-Eagles meeting where Garcon was a non-factor. He had three catches for five yards. Garcon is the 'Skins fourth ranked receiver with 34 catches, behind team leader Josh Morgan (46), Santana Moss (37) and Leonard Hankerson (36).
As the favorite target of RG3 in the games he's played, Garçon has become the receiver to get the 'Skins moving into opponents territory. More than half of his receptions are when the offensive play starts on their side of the field. Although he has more receptions in home games he has more receiving yards while on the road.
In his Dec. 20 address to the Redskins media, Coach Shanahan was asked about Garcon and how his return has helped the team. Shanahan mentioned "his size, speed and ability to block...(and) he's very physical. Every catch he tries to go the distance."
Shanahan also responded to a reporter's question about a 15-yard "taunting" penalty Garcon was assessed in last week's win over the Cleveland Browns. After a Garcon completion he routinely gets to his feet and spins the ball. It was the first time he had been penalized for his celebration and Shanahan joked, "He taunted the ball, not the opposing team or the referee...he's so into the game."
The reporters laughed.
The Redskins travel to face the Philadelphia Eagles Sunday, Dec. 23 at 1 p.m. ET as they try to continue their winning streak and reach the playoffs as the NFC East champion—a title they have not held since 1999.
Statistical information provided by ESPN.com.
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