3 Ways DeSean Jackson Can Help Exploit the Redskins' Weak Secondary

Bill PivetzCorrespondent IIINovember 14, 2012

3 Ways DeSean Jackson Can Help Exploit the Redskins' Weak Secondary

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    The Eagles will rely heavily on DeSean Jackson this Sunday against the Washington Redskins as rookie Nick Foles will most likely get the start while Michael Vick recovers from a concussion suffered against the Cowbows.

    The fifth-year receiver is struggling so far this year, but the change at the quarterback couldn’t come at a better time for the struggling Eagles.

    Foles was looking for the big-play receiver throughout the game. He targeted Jackson eight times, seven of them on short-yard attempts and completed three of them for 22 yards.

    Philadelphia gets an easier matchup this week as the Redskins allow 301.7 passing yards per game, which is 30th in the league, and only 14 sacks, which is tied for 28th in the league. Even with the Eagles’ offensive line issues, they shouldn’t have to worry about protecting Foles too much.

    The Eagles have five good pass-catchers in Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Brent Celek, LeSean McCoy and Jason Avant. In order for the Eagles to turn their season around, Jackson will need to take advantage of the Redskins’ secondary in all aspects of the passing game.

Downfield Speed

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    It’s no surprise DeSean Jackson is considered one of the fastest players in the NFL as he ran a 4.35 40-yard dash in 2008, the highest of all the receivers.

    Yahoo! Sports ranked Jackson in the top three last year, behind Brandon Lloyd and Mike Wallace.

    In his career, Jackson has 16 receiving touchdowns for over 30 yards or more. Ten of them are touchdowns for over 50 yards.

    Jackson can explode for a big play at any moment in the game. He is a scary downfield threat and can shake off any defender.

    He is also a threat in the punt return game, just ask the New York Giants. Jackson has four punts returned for touchdowns, averaging 72.5 yards per return.

    Once Jackson gets into open space, he can outrun any defender on his way to a touchdown.

    In the two games last year against the Redskins, Jackson had 132 yards on seven receptions with one touchdown, which went for 62 yards.

    The Eagles must utilize Jackson’s speed if they want to defeat the Redskins on Sunday. He should be able to get past a cornerback in a second and be wide open target for Nick Foles.

Screen Plays

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    Besides on the deep ball and punt return, DeSean Jackson can help the Eagles in the screen game.

    The screen game will accomplish two things for the Eagles. It allows Foles to get the ball out of his hands quickly and not feel any pressure from the defensive line. It also lets Jackson get the ball in his hands and immediately start running.

    Having Jackson run as soon as he catches a screen is similar to him running the 40-yard dash. He catches the ball at a complete standstill and then takes off running. The average 40-time of the Redskins starting linebackers and safeties is 4.61 seconds, which is .26 seconds slower than Jackson.

    However, the time would be a lot slower now considering London Fletcher has been in the league for 15 seasons.

    Anytime Jackson can map out his run like he can with a screen pass, defenses need to be ready. He can weave his way in and out of holes and with the proper blocking, Jackson is in the end zone.

Open Space for Teammates

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    As stated before, the Eagles have good receivers to help Jackson on the field.

    The pass-catching depth allows the Eagles to let the defenses double-cover Jackson while the other receivers get open with one-on-one coverage.

    DeAngelo Hall will most likely be on Jackson all game, which will leave Josh Wilson to cover Jason Avant or Jeremy Maclin, if he plays.

    During last Sunday’s game, Nick Foles seemed to have a connection with Maclin. Foles found him wide open in the end zone for his first career touchdown. Maclin was targeted 12 times and caught eight balls for 93 yards.

    If Maclin doesn’t play on Sunday, expect the Redskins to cover Jackson even more than usual.

    As a result, Foles should target Avant, Celek and McCoy to catch passes.

    There’s no doubt that Foles will look for Jackson a few times throughout the game, but he will have to fit the ball in a small window if the Redskins double cover him the way they should.

    Jackson could be used as a decoy throughout the game to draw defenders away from the middle of the field and allow his teammates to help the rookie quarterback.