Chris Cooley has been the undisputed No. 1 tight end for the Washington Redskins pretty much since he came into the league in 2004. He’s been used as the No. 2 target behind wide receiver Santana Moss for years, and has made it to the Pro Bowl while being a lethal offensive weapon. However, he was injured in training camp this year, giving room for another tight end to close the gap: Fred Davis.
Davis has been coming along the last few years, getting more catches and being targeted more on offense. This year, he came into camp with a new number, 83, and an attitude that this year was going to be different.
“New number, new Fred. In fact, call me Frederick now,” he joked with the media while walking onto the practice field on Day 1 of camp.
With Cooley out, Davis saw his opportunity to step up on the tight end depth chart. Cooley’s presence always left little to no room for anyone else, but with his out (and now not being used as much while he finishes his recovery) Davis stepped up in a big way on Sunday against the Giants.
He lead the offense with 107 yards off of 5 catches. That’s more than a third of the 305 passing yards Rex Grossman had all afternoon, and an average of 21 yards per catch. This 21 yard average equaled the total of Cooley’s work, who had two catches for 21 yards.
There are more factors to take into consideration than just one game. First of all, Cooley has been a target on the Redskins for longer. Defenses know they have to defend him, and they know that he will be a regular receiver. With all that attention paid to him, he is still able to be productive.
With Davis making plays, it will eventually draw attention away from Cooley. When the defense on Davis gets stronger, that’s when we will get to see if he is a legitimate threat to Cooley. If he can keep it up, he will be used. If not, when he draws more defense, it will hopefully open up Cooley for more options as well.
Having one tight end who can act as a wide receiver is good, but having two is even better. The more threats, the more Grossman will be able to spread out defenses and get the ball down field. We saw it work last Sunday, but that was also against a Giants defense that was depleted with injuries.
While the eyes on offense will be on Grossman and Davis to see if they can have repeat performances against the Cardinals, the defense will be tested. With Kevin Kolb leading an offense that involves Larry Fitzgerald, the passing defense will have to stand strong.
Safety DeAngelo Hall is ready for the challenge, telling the media today that he loves the opportunity to make plays. If a challenge is what the Pro Bowl MVP wants, he’ll certainly get it. The match-up between him and Fitzgerald will be one to watch on Sunday.
The offense stepped up, now it’s time to see if it can sustain.