Still, Garcon’s boss has no doubts he’ll get his money’s worth. Garcon did enough in his season debut (an 88-yard touchdown reception is a sign of potential) to convince Coach Mike Shanahan that he picked the right guy to lead the team’s revamped receiving corps. Assuming Garcon’s foot heals well, “you will see that he’s a definite No. 1 receiver,” Shanahan told me the other day. “No ifs, ands or buts about it.”
Until that happens, it’s natural to wonder if the Redskins’ bad history in free agency is working against them again with Garcon, who was a productive No. 2 receiver in his first four seasons for the Indianapolis Colts.
In a departure from the mismanagement that preceded him, Shanahan has made sound decisions on free agents, such as defensive linemen Barry Cofield and Stephen Bowen. No one could fairly label Garcon as a bust after only six games, and he signed a five-year contract, so there’s plenty of time to make the type of comeback Shanahan is predicting.
But Garcon, 26, must prove he can handle the pressure of leading the Redskins’ receivers each week, which was something he didn’t have to do while playing a sidekick role with Indianapolis. He’d also be wise to avoid creating problems where none exist. That was Shanahan’s message when he pulled aside Garcon this week to try to help him repair his fast-declining relationship with reporters who cover the team.
In my former life as a beat writer, it never bothered me if a player refused to grant interviews; just one less guy to worry about corralling. But that was just me.
Under the NFL media policy, players must be available for interviews during the week and after games or risk being fined, and Garcon was ignoring the rules. Not smart. As one of the Redskins’ new top-of-the-roster players, he has a responsibility to speak to the team’s supporters. Even in today’s social media world, the old-fashioned Fourth Estate plays a big part in informing fans about the Redskins.
After Shanahan strongly encouraged Garcon to end his unofficial media boycott, Garcon took questions in a group setting Wednesday after practice.
Although the session wasn’t especially illuminating, Garcon came across much less standoffish than he has seemed for weeks. You also got the feeling Garcon knows he has to get back and deliver. “I know what I can do,” he said. “Coaches know what I can do.”