If you asked 100 Redskins’ fans who the leading receiver on their team is, most would likely have the wrong answer.
You’d hear the names anyone would think of when they discuss the Redskins’ offense. Names like DeSean Jackson, Pierre Garcon, and Jordan Reed have dominated the conversation in Washington over the years.
However in 2016, it seems a new man is ready to take the crown.
Jamison Crowder, last season’s fourth round pick out of Duke, has made an incredible impact in his sophomore season with the Redskins. Crowder leads the team with 391 receiving yards and three receiving touchdowns, as he has quickly become Kirk Cousins’ favorite target in Washington’s pass focused offense.
The NFL has largely become a league defined by short passing, and that is exactly where Crowder thrives. He is a shifty slot receiver, giving the Redskins the prototype that Wes Welker established with the Patriots nearly a decade ago. Since Welker’s success with the Pats, every team in the NFL has attempted to recreate the dink and dunk style, but few have been able to replicate it.
However, in Crowder’s sophomore season, he seems as close as anyone to realizing his potential in that position.
What’s even more intriguing about Crowder is he doesn’t just contribute as a receiver, but also as a punt returner. Crowder currently leads the NFL in punt return yards with 207, which is already more than he had all last season. The improved punt return game has drastically shortened the field for the Redskins, and it has allowed them to score much more easily than they did in 2015.
Nearly all of that credit should go to Crowder. He is quickly developing into one of the elite special teams players in the NFL, which is not something Redskins fans were looking forward to at the start of this season.
Considering the disappointment of Josh Doctson’s Achilles injury, which is so severe it will likely keep him out the remainder of the season, the emergence of Crowder is a God-send for Washington. The Redskins clearly felt the need to inject some young talent into their receiving core this off season, and firmly believed Doctson would be that guy. In his absence, there was likely some fear among the Washington faithful that their offense would not have enough to compete with the myriad of difficult defenses they will face this season. Crowder has largely mitigated those concerns, though, and should be a cornerstone of this offense moving forward.
— Brandon Thorn (@VeteranScout) October 19, 2016
In fact, the effects of Crowder’s emergence can be seen throughout the offense, as he has helped Kirk Cousins move into the upper echelon of quarterbacks statistically. Currently, Cousins ranks sixth in passing yardage and 11th in passing TDs in the NFL, which would not be possible without Crowder. Teams now have to respect the Redskins’ slot receiver, which detracts from the attention received by both Garcon and Jackson.
Thus, Cousins is more easily able to spread the ball out, and find the single coverage in the defense.
While 4-3 isn’t the Redskins’ ideal record at this point in the season, you’d find very few Washington fans rushing to blame their offense.
Washington ranks 12th in offensive efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, and has continued to get better each and every week. A lot of that improvement from last season has to come down to the improvement of Crowder. He has allowed Cousins the slot receiving option that he has so desperately needed since he took over the starting role last season, and should continue to improve as the season goes on.
Washington fans should be very happy with his development.