Among the few frustrations with the Redskins offense last season, the lack of red zone scoring stood out the most, playing a factor into most of the team’s nail-biting losses. Washington ranked third to last in that category in 2016, converting just 45 percent of their trips past the 20-yard line into touchdowns.
Echoing the sentiments that quarterback Kirk Cousins had throughout the year, diagnosing the team’s struggles there is not easy. A variety of reasons can explain the lack of efficiency, but it appeared, as most defenses did a better job of double-teaming tight end Jordan Reed, that the size of Cousins’ receiving options was a prevailing pitfall.
Taller receivers are not a fix-all for an offense struggling in the red zone, but they certainly help. And it seems the Redskins have taken that into deeper consideration in the last couple of weeks of free agency.
After the team lost wide receivers DeSean Jackson (5-foot-10) and Pierre Garçon (6-foot) to the Buccaneers and 49ers, respectively, Washington has filled their void with Terrelle Pryor, relied on the return of Josh Doctson and now added Brian Quick to the mix.
Pryor, a former quarterback, will now have a peer at his eye line, as both he and Quick stand at 6-foot-4. Just below them at 6-foot-3 is wide receiver Maurice Harris, who worked his way up from the practice squad as a rookie midway through the year, while Doctson, last year’s first-round pick, stands at 6-foot-2. Wide receiver Ryan Grant tops out at six feet and Jamison Crowder rounds out the group at 5-foot-8.
With tight ends Jordan Reed (6-foot-2) and Vernon Davis (6-foot-3) in the fold for next season, it would seem quarterback Kirk Cousins has a little more room for error, at least when throwing high.
In other words, height is not an issue for the Redskins’ offensive weapons anymore. It is quite a change from Washington’s teams of the past – or even last season, when the Garçon, Grant and Rashad Ross were the tallest options at six feet.
On his conference call after signing, Pryor said he and the team didn’t discuss too much what his height would do to help the offense, but admitted that it’s certainly impactful to have multiple weapons with bigger catch radiuses.
“Obviously [that’s] in their minds, they’re sharp coaches and they’re very smart,” Pryor said. “There’s a great quarterback that we have here. I think that stuff will come into effect when we start getting together and really working on team activity stuff.”
After last year’s draft, head coach Jay Gruden mentioned Doctson’s size as an intriguing factor in selecting him with the 22nd overall pick.
“He’s got height,” Gruden said. “He’s got the mad leaping skills, which are very appealing, especially in a red zone obviously. He’s another guy that is going to bring great athleticism to this offense. We’re excited to have him.”
The addition of Quick will only enhance this heightened group (now averaging just more than 6-foot-2 as a whole), presenting matchup issues for opposing cornerbacks, which will likely be tasked at times to cover at least four receivers taller than six feet.
Quick, in 16 games last year, caught 41 passes for 564 yards and three touchdowns. One of his scores came in the red zone, but he also managed to be explosive at times, hauling in two touchdowns for 44 and 65 yards.
“I am a big bodied go up and get it type of guy,” Quick said. “I can play in the slot as well, but I feel I am more of a physical guy that can body DBs up and just make plays.”
That’s what the Redskins will count on.