The Washington Redskins signed free agent DeSean Jackson on Wednesday to a three-year, $24 million deal, and see the speedy wide receiver as the missing piece for the team’s return to the playoffs. Jackson was released Friday by the Philadelphia Eagles and there was talk of him going to other teams besides Washington. After their first meeting went sour, and the New York Jets already expressing interest before he was released, it looked like Jackson was ultimately going to end up somewhere else. Wide receivers Pierre Garcon, the team’s leading wide out last year, DeAngelo Hall and quarterback Robert Griffin III (RG3) spoke outwardly that they wanted the three-time pro-bowler, and on Wednesday, their team made it happen. DeSean Jackson gives the Washington Redskins the dynamic receiver they have been missing, and they see him, paired with Garcon, as their missing piece to a now dangerous wide-out core.
Jackson was released by the Eagles on Friday, but it was not performance related. Jackson had been fantastic as an Eagle, averaging over 1,000 receiving yards and five touchdowns from 2008-2011, and after an injury plagued 2012 season, Jackson went off last year for over 1,300 yards and nine touchdowns. Shortly before Friday a story came out that Jackson had gang affiliations, and paired with his already volatile demeanor, the Eagles did not think he was good fit anymore. Jackson responded immediately to the statement, saying he has no gang affiliations and never has, but it was too late as the Eagles still released him.
Washington is getting a wide-out that averages over 17 yards every time he catches the ball, something they have not had in player since 2005 when Santana Moss did it. RG3 struggled last year, due to his ACL surgery and a sophomore slump, and Alfred Morris, though posting close to 1,300 rushing yards, was not as effective as the year before. DeSean Jackson gives the Washington Redskins that missing piece that other teams have to see as a threat and shift more focus onto, freeing up the other players to make plays.
Pirre Garcon had a great 2013 season, registering 113 receptions for 1,346 yards and five touchdowns, very similar to Jackson’s numbers. But Garcon is more of a possession receiver, where Jackson, at 28, is still, and always will be, a deep ball threat; Jackson has more catches of 40 yards-plus than any other player since 2008. The Redskins had that deep ball threat in Santana Moss, but his age and injuries have made him a shell of his former self. Jackson fills that void, so if opposing teams shift coverage towards Garcon, Jackson will make an impact, and vice versa. The Redskins were ninth in the league last year in offensive yards, but only 23rd in points. Jackson has a nose for the end zone that should up those numbers. RG3 was sacked 38 times last year, in only 13 games and he threw 12 interceptions, usually because he tried to force it into coverage. Jackson spreads the field, creating more one on one scenarios for the other receivers and allows RG3 and Alred Morris more room to run, as defenders will have to respect Jackson’s speed and not crowd the box.
There are two games on Washington’s schedule that should already be circled, and they are both against the Philadelphia Eagles. Jackson has never had to face an old team before, it will interesting to see how he responds. Garcon pulled in 113 catches last year, tight end Jordan Reed only played nine games and was still second on the team with 45 catches, and RG3 loves to dump it down to his running backs. With a history of getting angry when he is not given the ball, it will mark noting how Jackson responds if his catches go down. RG3 is the leader of the team, and loves to tell everyone what he is thinking; a second voice, possibly in opposition, could cause trouble in the locker room, especially if it is coming from a veteran. New Head Coach, Jay Gruden, has a history of successfully dealing with players that have off-field troubles, hopefully for him, he can control any outburst coming from his new wide receiver. Regardless, the Washington Redskins now see their offense as a prolific one, and DeSean Jackson is missing piece to their puzzle board of an offense; it is now complete.
Commentary by Chris Dragicevich