After a hectic five days following his release in Philadelphia, free-agent wide receiver DeSean Jackson signed a new four-year deal with the Redskins, helping to drastically bolster a 3-13 offense from a season ago.
Now that we can finally peel our eyes from social media timelines and give our fingers a break from clicking our browser's refresh button, it's time we look at not only what Jackson brings to Washington as a player, but also how his talent and skill set will help each piece of the Redskins offense.
The most obvious beneficiary of the Jackson addition is Robert Griffin III. With the team having already invested in its quarterback, it was required the front office upgrade the pieces surrounding its signal-caller and beef up the young passer's receiving arsenal.
Whether it's his vertical speed taking the top off a defense, his playmaking ability following a short catch or his presented threat lining up in the backfield as part of the read-option, Jackson automatically becomes the most threatening part of Griffin's receiving corps.
The Other Receivers
With Jackson adding a new dynamic to the Redskins offense, his presence and proven ability forces the attention of the opposition, in turn helping to take the pressure off guys like Pierre Garcon, Andre Roberts and tight end Jordan Reed—all of whom are respected playmakers in their own right.
Given Jay Gruden's pass-happy track record from his three-year stint as offensive coordinator in Cincinnati where the Bengals averaged more than 540 pass attempts a year, there will be plenty of footballs to go around in Washington. Better balance amongst pass-catchers increases the unit's overall threat and evens responsibility—meaning a guy like Garcon doesn't have to go out again next season with the weight of 113-plus catches on his shoulders.
After hauling in 45 catches for almost 500 yards and three touchdowns in only nine games last season, we're all well aware of how effective tight end Jordan Reed can be when healthy. With a guy like Jackson lining up opposite Pierre Garcon (in addition to Andre Roberts in the slot), things naturally open up for Reed, who will generate regular mismatches against linebackers.
Considering Reed's athleticism and versatility, Gruden will have a field day with the tight end's pre-snap alignment, forcing the opposition to defend Garcon and Jackson on the edges, with Roberts and Reed inside.
As we saw last season, an effective Redskins rushing attack forces the defense to act, often times presenting a single-high safety look from the opposition. But with 66 percent of his career receiving touchdowns going for 30 yards or more, Jackson is a bona fide single-high assassin.
If the defense elects to load the box, not only does it need to respect Jackson's vertical speed, but also the area that will open underneath for other Redskins receivers. And as a result, with threats like that in the passing game, Alfred Morris could see less defenders in the box on a more consistent basis.
Despite popular grades, the Redskins offensive line was underwhelming last season and it remains a focus for the team in May's upcoming draft. But because speed equates to pace, and Jay Gruden loves for the ball to come out extremely fast, even the blockers up front benefit from adding Jackson to the offense.
Yes, Griffin still needs to develop and learn to efficiently perform from the pocket. But suddenly you can live with a guy like Tyler Polumbus at right tackle or Chris Chester at guard due to threatening receiving options that limit large blitz attempts, and quick operation from the pocket.
While the reaction regarding DeSean Jackson in Washington appears to be a mixed bag, there's no denying Jackson's talent and its ability to make his teammates better. As we anxiously await to see what the regular season brings, right now it's easy to call this a massive get for the Redskins.
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