A bright spot emerged from the ashes of defeat for Washington during Philadelphia’s second half surge, defeating the Redskins 32-27. Former OSU Buckeye receiver Terry McLaurin was that bright spot, to the tune of 5 rec on 7 targets for 125 rec yards and a TD.
On McLaurin’s 69 yard touchdown reception, the rookie receiver actually was clocked running 21.2 mph after the catch. Fans have been clamoring for a deep threat and the 3rd round rookie looks to be the man. Sure, one game might be too early to crown McLaurin the “home run” hitter this offense has lacked, but he certainly made his case with a 25.0 YPC.
In fact, the former Buckeye receiver was nearly the recipient of another bomb from Keenum. Unfortunately, it resulted in an overthrow as McLaurin, once again, had two steps on the defender with nothing but open real estate. This would have added another 75-yard TD to his stat totals and kept the Redskins in the game.
Some were skeptical when McLaurin, with only one preseason snap, was named the starting X receiver after the release of 2016 1st rounder Josh Doctson. However, critics have changed their tune. McLaurin is an explosive deep threat. His OSU tape shows a dominant blocker who’s a proficient route runner as well.
In an April, pre-draft, Burgundy and Gold Report article, it was mentioned that if McLaurin lasts to the 3rd round, it would be a steal for the team that drafts him. One thing is for sure, McLaurin’s draft day slide will benefit Washington during this offensive reclamation period.
Although the receiving core is young, McLaurin looks to take a leadership role in Washington, as he did with Ohio State, where he was a two-time captain. The Buckeye receiver was better known for catching touchdowns from Dwayne Haskin’s in 2018. Eleven to be exact. However, his all-around play is what will help Washington. Some believed that McLaurin wouldn’t be able to showcase his skill set until Haskins took the role as starter, but #17 has quickly become a favorite target for Keenum.
As previously mentioned, McLaurin was targeted 9 times by Case Keenum, in Philadelphia, and came down with 7 of those passes. McLaurin will have the attention of the Cowboys’ defenders this week though, which should open up the field for Trey Quinn, Paul Richardson and fellow rookie Kelvin Harmon. Having a true deep threat will also help the tight ends expose the middle of the field, with Jay Gruden often attacking defenses from the inside out.
Although Vernon Davis looked rejuvenated with his acrobatic catch and score versus Philidelphia, getting back Jordan Reed will change how the passing game flows. Going forward, teams will be ready for McLaurin, especially when the receiver goes deep. A receiver that can dictate coverage is invaluable in today’s NFL. As McLaurin showed in Philadelphia, matching up 1 on 1 is no easy task.
Having a young receiver with McLaurin’s route running ability should excite Redskins fans, but even more impressive is the early connection he’s developed with Keenum.
After the week #1 let down, it isn’t easy finding the bright spot. In a game in which, through the first half, Washington had the victory in hand, McLaurin displayed his ability to separate from defenders, and also showed he can be a reliable target on intermediate routes.
Washington has been waiting for a true “home run hitter”, which they haven’t had since Santana Moss & Desean Jackson. Although both were spectacular pass catchers, most would agree that they weren’t true #1’s in the league, while in Washington. In McLaurin, the Redskins might have just found that go-to playmaker.
Washington seems to have gone all-in with the release of Josh Doctson and not signing/trading for a veteran pass catcher. So, the pressure will be on McLaurin to produce. Fans expected the defense to carry the team, but it looks like the offense is up to the task. With Jordan Reed’s health always in question, McLaurin seems to be the next matchup nightmare that the Gruden and the Redskins will feature on game days.
By Adam Aniba
Follow on Twitter @TheBandGreport
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