Look too long at Art Monk’s reception totals, and it’s easy to ignore the other parts of his game. That would be a mistake.
Look too long at Art Monk’s reception totals, and it’s easy to ignore the other parts of his game.
That would be a mistake.
As good as Monk was at catching a football — he at one time held the league record for career catches — he was equally adept doing other things on the field.
“He was the proverbial inside receiver,” former Washington quarterback Joe Theismann said. “You have to be tough. You’re asked to block linebackers, and you’re asked to go over the middle where you know four people have a legitimate shot at them in a couple steps.”
Monk never backed away from contact, whether making the catch in traffic or looking to block downfield. His ability to block helped the Redskins be one of the league’s better running teams.
Eight times the Redskins rushed for 2,000 yards as a team. He also helped four running backs — fellow Hall of Famer John Riggins, George Rogers, Earnest Byner and Reggie Brooks — combine for seven 1,000-yard seasons from 1983-93.
“If you look at the history of football, any great runner will tell you that you never have a great running game unless you have a receiver who blocks,” Theismann said. “You never get the big run unless you have a receiver that’s physical and can block downfield.”
Monk provided that to Washington’s running game. Helping him become a better run blocker was his position coach, Hall of Famer Charley Taylor.
Taylor also was at one point the NFL’s career receiving leader, but he, too, did not mind throwing his body around.
“Charley Taylor was a downright mean, devastating blocker,” Theismann said. “He’d absolutely destroy defensive backs.”
Monk strove to do the same.
About the only thing Monk did not do well was pick up blitzes.
“He always tried,” Theismann said.
Despite his many positive attributes, including intelligence and toughness, Monk never got a hang for handling a blitzing safety. When Theismann anticipated a blitz coming, he’d offer Monk a reminder:
“Don’t try and block him. Get in his way and don’t hurt either one of us.”
Theismann added, “It was one of the comical things. It was not that high on his list of attributes. But he got an ‘E’ for effort.”