New Redskins wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard has a tough job on his hands and very limited coaching experience to call upon to get it done.
Since finishing up his NFL playing career in 2008, he has worked as an unpaid receivers coach for the Florida Tuskers of the UFL and last year he was an assistant receivers coach for the Miami Dolphins. That is it.
Hilliard’s predecessor in his new job, Keenan McCardell, came to the position only have coached receivers in the East-West Shrine game.
McCardell’s contract ran out and the Redskins decided not to renew it. His wide receiver corps was largely unproductive and those that performed consistently well were on the wrong side of 30.
Here are some of the individual challenges that Hilliard faces as goes into his new job:
Santana Moss—The veteran had his worst season since 2002 due partly to a broken hand that cost him four games. The Redskins gave him a $5 million signing bonus in August and it would be helpful if they could get another good season out of Moss, who will be 33 before next season starts.
Anthony Armstrong—Hilliard will try to figure out the rise and fall of Armstrong. In 2010, he came out of nowhere and the 27-year-old rookie become a valuable weapon with 44 receptions for 871 yards (19.8 yards/catch). In 2011 he was virtually invisible, catching just seven passes. Can Hilliard bring out the 2010 playmaking version of Armstrong?
Leonard Hankerson—The third-round pick was inactive for the first five games but he got rolling with an eight-catch, 106-yard performance in Miami. Unfortunately, he was injured on his last catch of that game and didn’t play again. Hilliard will need to help get Hankerson build off of his progress of 2011.
Niles Paul—It would be a huge boost if the 2011 fifth-round draft pick could become a solid option in the passing game. Paul got a lot of playing time but he was the target of a pass just five times.
Aldrick Robinson—Now, Robinson isn’t much more than a fast guy with potential. As with Paul, Hilliard can earn his stripes by turning him into a football player.
TBD—The Redskins are almost certain to sign and/or draft additions to the wide receiver corps and Hilliard will need to bring out the best in them.