DeSean Jackson and Pierre Garcon are all but done in Washington. The pass catching duo are set to hit the open market leaving the door open for third year man Jamison Crowder to fill the void left behind.
Crowder will probably be taking the role of Jackson as his playing style is like that of the former Philadelphia Eagle. Crowder ended the season with more receptions than Jackson and amassed 847 yards and seven touchdowns.
Jackson by comparison recorded his fifth 1,000-yard season of his career to go along with four scores in 2016. However, with Jackson’s injury history and his six-million-dollar salary in 2016, plus his age, it makes sense for Washington to usher in the Crowder era in the capital.
Crowder has exceptional quickness, being able to get out of his break and have the ball in his hands in open space. At a mere five foot eight the fourth-round pick does not have the physicality to deal with big corners in press man. Last season Sean McVay did an excellent job of putting Crowder in bunch formations allowing the receiver to get into space quick on slant patterns and post routes – utilising the game-breaking speed of the former Duke sensation.
These are all traits synonymous with Jackson – except now Washington are hoping to get the same, or greater, production at a much cheaper cost and with a younger guy. Crowder is owed just $751,406 in 2017 and at 23-years-old the hope is that he will only get better. McVay is no longer there with Washington but the new offensive coordinator should keep some of the things the now Los Angeles Rams coach put in place.
Washington will also be hoping that 2016 first-round selection Josh Doctson returns healthy for the 2017 season after battling a myriad of problems during his maiden season in the NFL. Doctson has the height and speed to really trouble number one cornerbacks leaving Crowder free to capitalise on coverage from elsewhere.
While Jackson became more of an exclusive downfield threat Crowder is an exceptional route runner capable of operating as the X, Y or Z receiver. Offering quarterback Kirk Cousins the luxury to go underneath to the 23-year-old with a quick slant pattern or go deep to him with a nine route.
Such a versatile weapon forces the defense to play him honestly and while Crowder does not have the imposing size that often sees wide outs feared his instant acceleration and 4.5 speed terrifies not only cornerbacks, but also safeties, as he can get on top of them quicker than they anticipate.
Washington also like to deploy Crowder in the red zone with three of his seven scores coming from there. Should Crowder build on his impressive second season and inherit the snaps from Jackson and some from Garcon then Head Coach Jay Gruden will have a younger, quicker attack in 2017, with matchup nightmare tight end Jordan Reed also in the mix to cause defences even more problems.
In the NFL, talent will only get you so far. Luckily for Crowder he is an excellent effort guy. Willing to block in the run game he shows his willingness to fight for his team leading him to being on the field more than perhaps anticipated. Sometimes overpowered by bigger linebackers but that is not a problem as Crowder can sometimes do just enough to allow the running back that extra yard or to squeeze through the crease to pick up the first down. If Crowder can bulk up in the off-season to make himself a more effective blocker, as well as make him more physical as a pass catcher, then Washington will start to have a real prize asset on their hands.
With everything in Washington going in Crowder’s favour he is a good bet to get his first 1,000-yard season of his pro career – potentially putting up double digit touchdowns too – and lay down a real marker heading into his contract year in 2018. 2017 is the perfect platform for the former fourth rounder to establish himself as one of the most dangerous weapons in the NFL.