It was just one play. Only a single catch, and during an otherwise humiliating 56-14 rout, no less. Yet, this one play by Dyami Brown showed Washington Football Team offensive coordinator Scott Turner what he’s been waiting to see all season.
Specifically, Turner saw the vertical threat rookie wide receiver Dyami Brown can pose to defenses. The proof was Brown’s 48-yard catch against the Dallas Cowboys in Week 16:
Heck of a catch by Dyami Brown pic.twitter.com/DWFUKtXH6c
— Nicki Jhabvala (@NickiJhabvala) December 27, 2021
One play doesn’t make a season, though, and it’s high time Brown stepped up more often. Especially since Washington’s leading receiver, Terry McLaurin, has struggled in recent weeks.
Dyami Brown Can Take Pressure Off Terry McLaurin
It’s not unfair to say McLaurin hasn’t been delivering during the business end of the 2021 NFL season. How you explain his lack of production will depend on how you view his circumstances.
One explanation is that McLaurin is a marked man. This makes sense since he’s the best wideout on Washington’s roster. It means McLaurin commands a lot of attention every week. That attention can take two forms. McLaurin’s either doubled with safety help every play. Or else, he’s matched up against the opposition’s top cover man.
The Cowboys took the latter approach in Week 16. They put interception-binging Trevon Diggs over McLaurin all game. It’s the same thing Dallas defensive coordinator Dan Quinn did when the two teams first met in Week 14. The Cowboys won that game 27-20, largely thanks to how well Diggs shut McLaurin down.
Two games against Diggs, and the numbers don’t make for good reading for fans of ‘Scary Terry:’
Trevon Diggs vs Terry McLaurin | 2021:
🔒 6 targets/1 catch
🔒 0.0 passer rating allowed
🔒 1 interception
🔒 3 forced incompletions
— PFF (@PFF) December 27, 2021
Going up against the most skilled cornerbacks naturally makes McLaurin’s job tougher. So does having to catch passes from a carousel of unconvincing quarterbacks.
Taylor Heinicke, Garrett Gilbert, and Kyle Allen have all tried to find McLaurin in recent weeks. That’s far from optimum for any pass-catcher.
Turner can make things easier on his quarterbacks and their star receiver. He can start by making McLaurin a little less easier for shutdown cornerbacks to find.
Some, including podcaster and Washington Post writer Al Galdi, are content to put the onus on Turner:
Terry McLaurin over #WFT's last 4 games has just 9 receptions for 124 yards & no TDs on 19 targets. Plenty of reasons for why, but the bottom line is that is an unacceptable lack of production for #WashingtonFootball's best drafted WR since Art Monk. Scott Turner must do better.
— Al Galdi (@AlGaldi) December 22, 2021
It’s a reasonable argument, and Turner has options for getting McLaurin the ball more often. Hiding him in the backfield is one way, while stacking him closer to the line is another.
McLaurin is physical enough to handle the demands of playing from the slot. Especially if somebody else is challenging defenses from the outside.
Dyami Brown Can Take Safeties Away From McLaurin
One sure way of creating more room for McLaurin is to take away safety help. This is where Brown can make the most impact.
Brown’s speed and ability to stretch the field will force defenses to adopt more two-deep shells against Washington. Provided, of course, Turner dials up more deep strikes for Brown.
In fairness to Turner, Brown hasn’t exactly been pulling up trees as a rookie. He’s started just six games and made 11 catches for 140 yards. Those numbers are far from impressive, but the 12.7 yards per reception is proof of Brown’s deep threat.
One thought occurred after that catch against the Cowboys. Brown can be another DeSean Jackson.
The veteran’s still a solid big-play specialist for the Las Vegas Raiders, but Jackson once dominated with Washington. He posted two 1,000-yd seasons in 2014 and ’16. Jackson’s potent double act with Pierre Garcon also helped Washington reach the playoffs in 2015 and post back-to-back winning seasons.
There are similarities between Jackson and Brown. He’s a slight receiver at 6’0″, 185 pounds, like 5’10”, 175-pound Jackson. The same fallow frames contribute to the blazing speed of both players.
That’s a skill being wasted by Turner and head coach Ron Rivera. The latter has already seen one draft pick wasted on a receiver who didn’t make the grade. Antonio Gandy-Golden didn’t expand this passing game as a fourth-round pick in 2020, but Brown can be more effective.
Establishing Brown as a deep threat is the only way to salvage another high draft pick and take focus away from McLaurin, the receiver who truly makes Washington’s offense tick.
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