Redskins wide receiver Pierre Garçon isn't worried about a drop in his numbers in 2014; he's focused on doing what it takes to win more games.
After seeing a decrease in targets in 2014, Pierre Garçon isn't concerned with his numbers approaching those of his record-breaking 2013 season. He only wants to see one number increase: the number of Redskins victories.
A player such as Garçon can transcend statistics with the variety of ways he contributes to the success of the Redskins' offense. A respected teammate and voice, Garçon is a player defenses must always keep a pair of eyes on as a fearless receiver with quick acceleration after the catch and big-play ability.
Garçon has played three seasons with the Redskins, each of which highlighting his various areas of strength.
In his first season, the Redskins were 9-1 in regular-season games in which the Mount Union product appeared. Playing through a foot injury, he logged 44 receptions for 633 yards and four touchdowns and helped lead the Redskins to the NFC East title.
Garçon carried the majority of the team's aerial attack during the 2013 season, recording 68 more receptions than anyone else on the roster and tallying a single-season franchise record 113 receptions. He also notched his first career 1,000-yard season.
A countdown of the top-10 images of wide receiver Pierre Garcon during the 2014 season.
Last year, even with three different quarterbacks throwing him the ball and new faces around with whom to share the football, Garçon still managed to record 68 receptions for 752 yards and three touchdowns.
In one season, he was the top receiving option on a winning team. In another, he proved he could carry the burden of being a No. 1 receiver while the defense knew the ball was likely headed in his direction. And last season, he demonstrated he could remain effective with fewer targets while learning the ins-and-outs of a new offensive system.
In 2015, fans could see the best aspects of Garçon's time with the Redskins mashed into 16 games of play from the 2012 free agent signing.
With the offense now preparing for its second season under head coach Jay Gruden's scheme, Garçon believes the Redskins are "further ahead than we were last year, as a team, as a playbook, as an offense." The players are more familiar with the playbook, and "can keep getting more in depth…instead of starting back at step one," as well as one another.
"Now we know each other," Garçon said. "First year under our belt with each other, more camaraderie, hanging around the guys, seeing them, it's definitely beneficial for us."
In organized team activities earlier this offseason, Garçon and DeSean Jackson spent some time practicing at different spots from where they spent the majority of their time in 2014. After Garçon mostly played as the "X" receiver and Jackson became a stalwart as the "Z" in their first year working in Gruden's offense, they practiced lining up in both positions this offseason.
Wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard, who played in the NFL for 12 seasons as a receiver, expects this to allow receivers to better understand plays as a whole by looking at them through multiple angles and perspectives.
"I think the second year in the system if you quote-unquote 'Move guys,' it's a chance for everybody to learn the offense a little bit better," Hilliard said. "You're not limited to a degree. Guys understand the entire concept of every play and every situation and you learn it on both sides."
With the addition of Jackson and Andre Roberts in 2014, it was expected that Garçon would not repeat the collection of 181 targets that he accrued in 2013. Carrying less of the receiving burden, he ended up with 105 targets — again the most on the team — but saw a difference of 76 fewer passes thrown his way from the season before.
Consequently, the Redskins' offense featured six players with more than 35 receptions in 2014 — three more players than in 2013. With all of the top receiving threats from last season save Roy Helu Jr. returning, there will still be a lot of mouths to feed on offense.
Gruden stlll believes there is room to sufficiently involve every player.
"I think moving forward we get some stability at the quarterback position, you'll see all the numbers go up for all the receivers hopefully," Gruden said in March at the NFL Annual Meetings in Phoenix. "A lot of people would rather just hand it off, but I think we need to spread it out and be diverse in what we do and get these guys these touches. These guys work extremely hard. For us not to give them opportunities to make plays down the field is silly."
Some NFL players will remain content with the amount of success they have had in professional football. Garçon is not one, and has continued to dazzle Gruden with his work ethic this offseason.
"I'm impressed especially with Pierre. Pierre has been here every day, working his tail off, doing a great job," Gruden said. "We're always striving to get better, everybody is, and those guys really work extremely hard at practice, especially Pierre."
Now in his third season in four years as Garçon's position coach, Hilliard knows better than most the many things of which Garçon is capable. He has nothing but complimentary words to say about the eighth-year receiver and Greenacres, Fla., native.
"He's a stud, man. I can't say enough good things about him," Hilliard said. "He is a pro's pro. A guy you model your game after if you're a young guy. A guy you pick his brain if you're a young guy. When he's around, you watch him work, you try and process the game the way he does."