As the Washington Redskins head into free agency after nearly clinching a playoff spot for the second-straight year, we will look at some of Washington’s key players and grade their 2016 performance.
Player: Jamison Crowder
Position: Wide Receiver
Contract status: $2.8 million/4 years, expires in 2019
Preseason buzz: Crowder had a respectable 604 reception yards and two touchdowns in 2015, playing all 16 games and finishing the season third on the team in reception yards because DeSean Jackson missed six games. Expectations for Crowder remained about the same in his second campaign. Perhaps an afterthought considering the other talent in the Redskins’ receiving corps, even if Crowder did get a few extra targets each game, his opportunities to shine would be limited.
Ended 2016 like: Despite DeSean Jackson missing just one game and Vernon Davis being added to quarterback Kirk Cousins’ bag of toys, Crowder had eight more receptions than he did in 2015 (67 total), 847 reception yards and seven touchdowns. Crowder did grab a few extra targets during four Jordan Reed absences, but had his best performances sprinkled all across the season. Crowder developed into more than just a fourth-string slot receiver.
Season highs: In a back-and-fourth division game at New York, Jamison Crowder ripped off a 55-yard screen-pass to put the Redskins ahead with just under 10 minutes left in the third quarter. Crowder used a tandem of blocks and sprinted through a collapsing hole in the Giants secondary to score a touchdown in a season-saving win, avoiding a 0-3 start to the season. Crowder had his best game of the season when he received a career-high 13 targets and nine receptions for 107 yards and a touchdown in London against the Cincinnati Bengals.
Not only was Crowder a valuable possession receiver, but his 11 receptions of 20 yards or more showed he can be a reliable deep-threat. Crowder was just one of 17 players in the NFL to have more than five reception touchdowns, 60 receptions and 12.6 yards per reception this season.
Season low: Like the rest of the Redskins’ offense, Crowder had a less than ideal Week 17 as he caught just two passes for 16 yards. Crowder also returned five punts for only an eight-yard average. The entire Washington offense was without a spark.
Team award: Most valuable special teamer
Like we could forget about Crowder’s electric season as the Redskins punt-returner. Fourth in the NFL in punt return average (12.15 yards per return), no return was better, or more helpful to the Redskins season than his 85-yarder against the Baltimore Ravens in Week 5. He made numerous defenders miss in the open field and bolted up the sideline, showcasing his speed for the score.
With the Redskins defense in the bottom-third of the NFL in nearly every statistical category, even when they did force a punt it would not always lead to great field position. Crowder’s ability to help Washington’s offense in the field position game made him their most important special teams player.
Not only was Crowder second on the team in receptions and third in reception yards, but he led the Redskins in total touchdowns (8). For a team that was 30th in the NFL in red zone touchdown percentage (45.9) Crowder’s ability to find the end zone, especially with a tight end in Jordan Reed that missed multiple games and played limited snaps in others, was invaluable.
2017 expectations: Plenty of eyeballs, and targets will be locked onto Crowder if Pierre Garçon, DeSean Jackson, or both leave Washington in free agency this season. The Redskins still have depth at the tight end position, but behind Crowder on the wide receiver depth chart would be second-year man Josh Doctson (who missed most of 2016 due to injury) and Maurice Harris and Ryan Grant, who caught just 17 passes combined this season. If either Jackson or Garçon leave, Crowder figures to have a 1,000 yard-season ahead of him in 2017.
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