As the Redskins head into the weekend, and a giant NFC East match up with the Dallas Cowboys, the team is rife with uncertainty. Their offensive line has been flattened by injuries, their defensive secondary has been plagued by the same, and their offense continues to struggle despite decent play from quarterback Kirk Cousins. At the heart of those offensive woes has been the performance of the Redskins receivers – or lack thereof. Jamison Crowder has played no small role in those struggles, and thecontinue to reflect the lack of a legitimate receiving threat in the Redskins arsenal.
It was obvious when Pierre Garcon and Desean Jackson were both let go in the offseason, that Washington’s receiving corps would look very different in 2017. The Redskins hoped that Josh Doctson would rebound from a rookie season on injury reserved and step into a much bigger role for the team. Washington also signed Terrelle Pryor with the mind that he could be a big-bodied presence and a solution in the red zone. Both receivers have been disappointing so far, but in reality, their performances have not been all that surprising.
What has been surprising is that the one holdover from last year’s starting receiver crew may actually be the receiver who has struggled the most. In his first two seasons with the Redskins,was electric in the slot, and the Redskins were hungry to find innovative new ways to get him the ball.
In 2016, Crowder became a bonafide playmaker. He caught 67 balls for 847 yards, and had seven touchdowns. By the end of the year, opposing defenses had to take note of where Crowder was on the field, much the same as teams have to pay that same heed to Chris Thompson this year.
But he’s been almost invisible in 2017.
He has just 19 catches for 149 yards and it’s nearly the half way point of the season. He has no touchdowns, and his receiving average has dropped almost five full yards from 12.6 to 7.8. That stat bears mentioning because Crowder has just not posted the scintillating runs and yards after the catch that highlighted both of his first two seasons in Washington.
The third year receiver has had to battle through some injuries, but is it really all physical?
The most notable thing about Crowder’s 2017 performance so far, is that he has dropped 3 of the 12 punts that he has fielded, and critically lost two of them. This is a guy who was named to the Pro Bowl team as an alternate at punt returner last year. This is a guy who averaged more than TWICE as many punt return yards in 2016 as in 2017 (12 vs 5.8) and broke a Redskins streak of 124 games when he returned a punt for a touchdown against the Baltimore Ravens.
Maybe Crowder has just had a tough start, and maybe injuries have played a role in his struggles; but the Redskins need those struggles to end if they want to kickstart a banged up offense in the middle of the season.
It’s Dallas week. If a Redskins player can’t get up mentally for this game, then something is wrong. Washington need a big game from every player on the roster, but someone like Crowder can make more of a sudden impact than anybody else in the lineup.
So for the sake of the Redskins’ epic NFC East battle against the Cowboys on Sunday – will the real Jamison Crowder please stand up?