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Pierre Garcon is key to Washington Redskins' offense

When I ranked the Top 40 NFL wide receivers a month ago, I noted that Pierre Garcon was the engine that made the Washington Redskins' offense go last season.

Garcon, who isn't a prototypical go-to receiver, brings major injury red flags and has been plagued by drops at times. But how many wide receivers have a greater influence on their teams' fortunes?

The Redskins went 9-1 with Garcon in the lineup, as opposed to 1-5 when he was sidelined by a foot injury. The only loss was to the Atlanta Falcons in a game when Garcon clearly was playing on one foot, and the Redskins held a lead before Robert Griffin III exited with a concussion.

Garcon never has been reliable or well-rounded enough to join the ranks of the NFL's legitimate No. 1 receivers, but his playmaking ability is undeniable. There aren't more than 20 players in the league capable of consistently stretching defenses, beating double teams and making plays after the catch.

With Garcon in the lineup, role players such as Josh Morgan (blocking specialist), Aldrick Robinson (situational deep threat), Santana Moss (slot receiver) and Leonard Hankerson (professional enigma) can concentrate on what they do best. When Garcon is out of the lineup, that group inevitably is stretched beyond its means, leaving the Redskins' passing game with no semblance of playmaking ability.

Follow Chris Wesseling on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.

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