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2018 Redskins Season In Review: Wide Receivers

wide-receiver-position-review

Injuries, inconsistency and lack of chemistry loomed large for the Redskins' wide receivers group in 2018, issues that the team has yet to remedy since both DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon left in free agency following the 2016 season.

With a new quarterback in Alex Smith, then backup Colt McCoy, then Mark Sanchez, then Josh Johnson, the unit had its ups and downs as it tried to account for the multiple injuries that festered throughout the season. Former first-round pick Josh Doctson played the most out of the group, 15 games, marking some career highs in the process.

Here's a look at the unit's season:

Review of the unit:

The big free agent acquisition introduced alongside Alex Smith last March, wide receiver Paul Richardson Jr., promised to be a reliable target and speed threat that the team had been lacking in 2017.

Most of the offseason, then, required building chemistry with a new quarterback, both for Richardson and the entire cast of returning receivers, who needed to adjust to Smith and vice versa. While the group spent good time together throughout OTAs and training camp, chemistry together still needed refinement throughout most of the season's first half.

Part of the lingering issues were injuries.

That started when Robert Davis, entering his second year, broke his leg and tore his LCL during a training camp practice.

The team's promising rookies – seventh-round pick Trey Quinn and undrafted Cam Sims – then both suffered high ankle injuries in the season opener against the Cardinals and were promptly placed on Injured Reserve. Quinn returned for two games – and caught a touchdown pass against the Cowboys – but was placed back on IR as his injury flared up again.

In Week 5, against the Saints, Jamison Crowder injured his ankle, forcing him to miss the next seven games, as he experienced some minor setbacks in his bids to return to the field. Not long after, Richardson Jr, experiencing pain with an AC joint sprain from training camp that flared up into the regular season, was placed on Injured Reserve, too, following the team's loss to the Falcons.

In his debut season with the Redskins, Richardson finished with 20 catches for 262 yards in seven games, catching two touchdowns. Crowder would eventually return at the end of the season, playing in the final five games, and totaling 29 catches for 388 yards and two touchdowns for the season.

To fill in the gaps, the Redskins did the best they could with veteran Michael Floyd, who played in 13 games games and added 10 catches for 100 yards and a touchdown. Maurice Harris also had some flashes after a concussion kept him out for a few games. His best performance came against the Flacons, in which he caught 10 passes for 124 yards. He was placed on IR before the final regular season game vs. the Eagles.

The Redskins also used Brian Quick (brought in to help fill the void left by some of those early season IR designations) sparingly before releasing him in November. By the end of the season, the Redskins signed Darvin Kidsy from the practice squad while Jehu Chesson, on the roster primarily for special teams purposes, got more opportunities to play on offense.

Doctson, who has dealt with his fair share of injuries this year, became the team's most reliable option out wide, playing in 15 games. His numbers, though some constituted career highs, reflected some of the issues with having multiple quarterbacks and lacking a strong connection with Smith.

He finished his year 44 receptions for 532 yards and two touchdowns, his biggest yardage total coming against the Giants at MetLife Stadium, in which caught four passes for 84 yards.

What's next?

The team's priority when evaluating the group will be Crowder, who enters free agency for the first time after completing four years in Washington. His career has been mostly productive, but injuries have threatened to lower his stock the last couple of seasons.

Still, even with that limited availability, he is a prized slot receiver, a position hard to find in the NFL but one most coveted by teams because of the versatility a good, agile player can provide. Crowder has also been valuable as a punt returner, a role he ceded again this year until an emergency situation called for him.

"Jamison is a lot like Preston [Smith]," head coach Jay Gruden said. "He is a very young player, developing, and his best years are in front of him without a doubt. I feel the same way about Preston. I think they're going to explode on the scene here very shortly. He's got great quickness in intermediate routes, can separate, has good hands, he's tough, he's physical in the running game. There is really not anything that Jamison can't do. You look at his size and say he's little, but he plays big, so we have to try and get him back for sure."

After that, the team will have to evaluate ways to get the passing game going, and that could mean drafting another wide receiver. It's safe to assume Richardson will be healthy in time for OTAs and Doctson will return for his fourth season, while the emergence of Quinn in the slot and as a punt returner could be intriguing. The Redskins also have Cam Sims returning healthy and a full preseason could provide the team with another big target outside that they were lacking.

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