Defenses in the NFC East will continue to be torched by DeSean Jackson. Only now they'll be seeing him do it in a Redskins uniform. The Washington Redskins added the explosive receiver this offseason. They hope the move can improve their 16th-ranked passing offense and get them back in the playoffs.
There is no doubt Jackson was the most talented receiver on the market. He has been a big-time playmaker ever since he came into the league in 2008. Last season, he caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.
This type of difference-maker is something the Redskins have sorely needed at their skill positions. None of the receivers in the Redskins lineup are big playmakers. Their best receiver, Pierre Garcon, had an impressive season. He caught 113 balls for 1,346 yards, but he rarely broke out and made an explosive play.
He averaged only 11.9 yards per reception, and his longest play was 53 yards. Jackson averaged 16.2 yards per reception last year, and he has never had a season where his longest play was under 60 yards.
The move kills two birds with one stone for the Redskins. Besides adding an explosive weapon to their offense, they get to take one away from the team that won their division last year, the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles relied heavily on Jackson in the passing game. His 82 reception led the team. Philadelphia's next leading receiver was running back LeSean McCoy, and he caught thirty fewer passes.
When you look strictly at the numbers, it seems preposterous that the Eagles would let Jackson go. The fact that he signed within Washington's own division is even more troubling for the Redskins fanbase, but the issues between Jackson and the Eagles have nothing to do with his performance on the field.
Jackson has always been a volatile personality. Last year, during a 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings, Jackson threw a temper tantrum on the sidelines after the game began to slip out of reach.
The unsavory behavior allegedly made its way into the locker room as well. In a report by CBS Sports, unnamed teammates claim Jackson cussed out head coach Chip Kelly and, in general, exhibited a disruptive attitude around his teammates.
Even if the Eagles locker room is a more harmonious place, it will be difficult to replace Jackson's production. Chip Kelly loves his uptempo scheme, but in the NFL you can't win on system alone. The Eagles will still have one explosive player in McCoy, but they worked him like a dog last year.
McCoy rushed the ball 314 times and totaled 52 receptions. That many touches is a lot to ask of a single player over the course of a season, but with Jackson now gone, it wouldn't be surprising to see Shady's workload increase in 2014.
The Redskins hope that will be the case. They are looking past Jackson's off-the-field issues and focusing on his on-the-field utility. They see a deep threat who can clear defenders out of the box for running back Alfred Morris, as well as guy who can draw attention away from Pierre Garcon.
New head coach Jay Gruden is excited about what the addition of Jackson can bring to the team: “Hopefully, it’s diversity,” Gruden said to Rick Snider of The Washington Post. "The ability to be able to run the ball effectively and have a quick passing game, have some bootlegs, having some deep passing threats, not knowing exactly what is going to happen.”
If Jackson can keep his focus on football, he should be able to turn the Redskins into a very dangerous offensive team. As long as the defense doesn't let them down, the Redskins should find themselves back in the playoffs in 2014.