Despite the Washington Redskins struggling through an abysmal season, one of their few bright spots has been the play of wide receiver Pierre Garcon. In Sunday's heartbreaking loss to the Dallas Cowboys, the former Indianapolis Colt caught a season-high 11 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown—immortalizing himself as a Redskin in the process.
Thank you for the love and appreciation today. Really wish we had the win today.— Pierre Garçon (@PierreGarcon) December 23, 2013
Garcon entered the Week 16 rivalry game against the Cowboys with the knowledge that he needed exactly 11 catches to break the mark set by the great Art Monk for most receptions in a season by a Washington Redskins receiver. The ever-gracious Hall of Fame receiver had the following to say about Garcon's historic day:
Though the going has been tough for his team, fans can take away the following about Garcon's performance against Dallas:
The future is not as bleak as Redskins fans would have you believe
Though a 3-12 season sounds miserable, pending the Week 17 finale at the New York Giants, Washington has a lot to be proud of.
Pierre Garcon has proved himself to be a reliable receiver for this team. Not only does Garcon lead the NFL in receptions, but he's also only the second receiver to record a 100-reception season, joining Monk, in the 80-year history of the Washington Redskins.
What's more is that Garcon is just 27 years old and only in year two of a five-year contract—ensuring that he'll have plenty of chances to break the franchise mark that he's set.
The torch has been passed
Despite the never-ending controversy surrounding Robert Griffin III, 2012 was a season in which the former first-round pick in the 2012 NFL draft emerged as a leader for an offense that was in desperate need of one. However, his mediocre sophomore season and eventual shutdown stymied any momentum he'd established.
The most vocal leader on the offense for the better part of the last decade has been wide receiver Santana Moss. However, with age, Moss has become less of a factor—both on the field and in the locker room.
This may be the first year since Moss arrived in Washington in 2005 that the majority of Redskins fans would likely have a different answer to the question: "Who's the biggest receiving threat on the team?"
Who's the most valuable offensive player on the Redskins?
2013 will go down as a season in which Garcon became the leading receiver of the Redskins and an offensive leader.
He makes the players around him better
Garcon's presence has been a godsend for newly appointed starting quarterback Kirk Cousins.
In the midst of a career season, it would've been possible for Garcon to lose steam with the loss of Griffin, the quarterback he'd played with for the first 14 weeks of the season.
This wasn't so, however, as in each of Cousins' first two starts, Garcon caught seven or more passes for over 100 yards and a touchdown.
The threat of Garcon's receiving off of play action opened the door for an 88-yard rushing performance by running back Alfred Morris as well.
Draft status does not matter
When the Redskins paid a king's ransom to secure the means with which to acquire Robert Griffin III in the 2012 NFL draft, one of the pieces included was the surrendering of a first-round pick in the 2014 NFL draft.
This pick will likely turn out to be a No. 2 overall selection, the same pick the Redskins used to draft Griffin in 2012.
Not to make an argument that Griffin is a bust by any means, but Cousins, his replacement, is putting up similar, if not better, numbers. Cousins, a fourth-round pick, has led the Redskins to consecutive one-point losses. The 10 losses suffered with Griffin at the helm were all by six points or more.
Garcon himself was a sixth-round pick. Between Garcon and Cousins, there are overachieving players all over the field. The Redskins need not feel so much anxiety about not having a first-round pick.
One more weapon may be all Washington needs
The Redskins have several viable options on offense. Garcon's record and body of work in 2013 is impressive, everyone is aware of what Griffin can do when he's healthy, and Morris has rushed for 1,000 yards for the second consecutive season.
In Sunday's loss to Dallas, however, receivers not named Garcon caught 10 passes for just 53 yards.
The Redskins need to make an offseason move to acquire a big-play receiver.
A major acquisition combined with a revitalized offensive line may be all Washington needs to take the next step.
Unless otherwise mentioned, all stats were gathered via Pro-football-reference.com