Eagle Eye: Eagles-Redskins predictions
Jordan Reed has three touchdowns this season, including two in his last four games. (USA Today Images)
He’s gotten better each week. And now he’s one of Washington’s biggest offensive weapons.
When Washington took tight end Jordan Reed in the third round of the 2013 draft, head coach Mike Shanahan said the organization found a guy who was “very special catching the football." Shanahan added that the Florida product is “more like a receiver than a tight end.”
Even after the initial and effusive praise, Reed has developed quicker than almost anyone could have anticipated. He is fifth among tight ends this season in receptions (44), eighth in total receiving yards (487), and sixth in yards per game (60.9). He also has three touchdowns, including two in his last four outings.
Reed has gotten better as the season has continued. He’s averaged at least 10 yards per catch in four of his last five games. And in his last four matchups, he’s averaged 9.2 targets, 6.7 catches and 80.7 yards.
“He adds a threat to their offense,” linebacker DeMeco Ryans said. “He gives them a little bit more versatility … when it comes time to lock him down in coverage, we’ll have to do so.”
When the Eagles played Washington in Week 1, the rookie tight end caught five passes on six targets for 38 yards. The Eagles are likely to face a much-improved version of Reed this weekend at Lincoln Financial Field.
“He’s been a big part of their offense,” safety Nate Allen said. “But that’s every week for us. We go against a good tight end pretty much every week. They use him a lot in their offense and it will be another big challenge for us.”
It should make for an interesting matchup. The Birds have been better than the league average against the position this season. The Eagles have allowed 38 receptions to tight ends (12th against the position), 447 yards (13th) and just one touchdown.
Those numbers are somewhat inflated because of Antonio Gates. The San Diego tight end caught eight passes on 10 targets for 124 yards in Week 2 against the Eagles. No other tight end has caught more than four passes or totaled more than 45 yards against the Eagles this season. That includes dynamic Denver Broncos tight end Julius Thomas, a breakout player this year who was held to four catches on four targets for 43 yards in Week 4.
“Our success versus the tight ends with [linebackers] Mychal Kendricks and Najee [Goode] last week,” Ryans said. “Those guys do a good job covering tight ends man-to-man. That allows us to play man-to-man coverage when our linebackers line up and cover tight ends man-to-man.”