The speculation during the past 72 hours has been at a fever pitch, the Washington media didn’t waste any time at all once DeSean Jackson’s name was first tied to the Redskins. The Eagles surprised everyone by releasing their top wideout last week, multiple reports stated that the Eagles were going to move Jackson and most expected it to be via trade. At least, the Eagles would be getting something in return. As for the reasons for his release, not sure if we’ll ever know the “true” reasons. Rumors of alleged “gang ties” and character flaws have been floating around DeSean, yet he doesn’t have a criminal history as far as getting arrested routinely. No matter the reasons, the former Eagle receiver has found a home in Washington, signing a 3 year deal reportedly worth 24 million with 16 million guaranteed and 8 million this season(per Adam Schefter). He will stay within the division, as most NFC East players do when traded or released. What does his addition mean for the Redskins?
DeSean Jackson is coming off a monster year last season, everyone was eager to see then first year head coach Chip Kelley’s new offense. Jackson didn’t disappoint in the high octane scheme at all, tallying 82 catches, 1,332 yards and 8 Touchdowns. That was good enough for ninth in the league in receiving, that’s not including his 9 TDs or his average of 16.2 yards per catch. It’s a well known fact that Jackson is big play threat, according to NFL on ESPN twitter account Jackson has had 35 forty yard receptions since 2008 (Calvin Johnson second with 34). Coming off a down year in 2012 when the Eagles had some issues at Quaterback, Jackson definitely rebounded last season. In terms of his career, this is a receiver that averages 17.2 yards per catch. Let that sink in, that is a certified weapon to add to any offense in the league. Washington just added a piece that opposing defenses must keep tabs on every single play in every game. Whether its a crossing route, bubble screen, reverse or going deep, Jackson can hit a homerun at any time. Jackson also gives the Redskins a very dangerous option in the return game.
Washington has a new head coach in Jay Gruden, formerly the offensive coordinator for the Bengals. The Cincinnati offense was very productive the last two years, they were also very balanced. Scoring 24 points a game in 2012 and 27 points a game in 2013, they had playmakers at every position from AJ Green, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu to Tyler Eifert. A difficult offense to contain, their only downfall was the execution or lack there of from the man under center. The Washington offense was quite potent in 2012, one of the most dangerous units in the league averaging 27.3 points a game. Rookies Robert Griffin III and Alfred Morris took the league by storm that year, routinely putting opposing defenses in no-win situations. Griffin tore the ACL & PCL in his right knee in the 2012 postseason versus the Seattle Seahawks, that led to the Redskins having a tough 2013 season with Robert struggling to regain his 2012 form. This is now a year removed from the injuries and Coach Gruden is inheriting a healthy Robert Griffin the Third, while he’s far from a finished product there is no question his upside is much higher than Gruden’s previous signal caller. Robert will also get the opportunity to be properly utilized, if Gruden could work wonders with Dalton, imagine the impact he can have on Griffin. No AJ Green won’t be walking through that door, but Gruden has the pieces to put together one of the league’s most explosive offenses. He also has one heck of a player to develop under center, Griffin was one of the league’s most dynamic players in his rookie campaign.
The Washington receiving corps will look very different this season and the draft is still a month away. Pierre Garcon took a huge step forward in his second year in Washington, being healthier was key. Routinely coming up with key receptions for the offense, he finished the year with 113 catches for 1,346 yards. More importantly, he found himself open on key downs as he caught 60 passes resulting in first downs(tied with Jackson). The Redskins also found out they had a very talented prospect at tight end, rookie Jordan Reed got an opportunity to be the number one guy due to issues with Fred Davis. Reed was better than anyone anticipated, showcasing great speed and suprisingly good route running. He caught 49 passes resulting in 3 TDs in 9 games, showing that he was a tough matchup for opposing defenses. Leonard Hankerson, Santana Moss, and Aldrick Robinson all made contributions at times as well. The addition of Andre Roberts & DeSean Jackson will inject pure speed into this unit. Roberts has the ability to line up both inside and outside, he often was able to get open as a member of the Cardinals. His versatility should make him a key contributor in this upcoming season. As for Jackson, his mere presence will change how opposing defenses play the Redskins. They won’t be able to load the box as leaving Jackson one on one without safety help is not ideal. Which should make life easier for Alfred Morris and Roy Helu. In 2012, RG3 was one of the better QBs in the league off play-action. Now think about having Jackson as a deep option in play-action situations, it’s truly a scary thought. When averaging 17.2 yards a catch, defenses can’t afford to not pay you extra attention. That should open up plenty of opportunities underneath for Garcon, Reed, Roberts, Moss, etc.
The Redskins got a big time playmaker at a great price, the only question is if they can translate “looking good on paper” to on field execution. If so, Washington should have a bevy of big plays in Jay Gruden’s first year. Robert Griffin III should definitely enjoy his new weapon, with Jackson in tow, he’ll have an opportunity to attack defenses on every level. If Washington’s offense thrives with the addition of Jackson, will the Eagles regret their decision?
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Stats taken from ESPN.com