This morning, John Gonzalez of CSN Philly wrote a piece about DeSean Jackson joining the Washington Redskins, and suggested that it will be just another big-splash/low-return free-agent signing by Redskins owner Daniel Synder. While Gonzalez was able to back his suggestion up with a plethora of past free-agent strikeouts by the team, I feel like he took the easy way out with his article. It’s almost lazy to just assume Jackson will flop in D.C. and drag the whole team down with him, because when I look at the team surrounding him, I don’t get the sense that this signing with fall in-line with the rest. DeSean Jackson is in his prime, and is paid, which means that you should get the elite talent that comes with him on gameday. Whether he shapes up in terms of commitment to the team aspect or who he chooses to associate himself with off the field, remains to be seen, but on the field, the Redskins have assembled a pretty damn good offense.
I’m not writing this article to try to rip Gonzalez as a writer, because frankly I tend to be really indifferent to his writing. I just found this specific piece–in which cited signings from the early-2000’s as reasoning for why this signing won’t work–to be lazy. Calling Washington ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’ because the Deion Sanders and Mark Brunell signings failed over ten years ago, doesn’t represent any actual basis as to why DeSean Jackson won’t work out in the nation’s capital.
I understand that the Redskins have developed a reputation of being a dysfunctional organization, but DeSean Jackson is actually being asked to just come in and be one of the better players on the team, rather than being the savior of the franchise. I think the biggest reason why I don’t view this as a disaster scenario is that for possibly the first time in the new millennium, the Redskins have a franchise quarterback in Robert Griffin III. They aren’t expecting DeSean to turn Mark Brunell or Jason Campbell into a franchise quarterback, they instead have one in RG3, who when healthy (which is a big when), is an elite talent.
Secondly, the Redskins have a group of weapons around DeSean. It all seems to circle back to the idea that this isn’t a huge off-season splurge where the Redskins are bringing in DeSean and five other free-agents with the expectation that they will go from a three win team to having a parade.
DeSean not only has a franchise-caliber quarterback around him, but he has another elite receiver who compliments him perfectly in Pierre Garcon. Garcon caught 113 passes for 1,346 yards last season, and while he can occasional go deep, Garcon is more of a possession receiver. DeSean never had a great possession receiver around him in Philly, and that compliment will take the pressure off of him to be the guy that the aerial attack has to run through. Even if DeSean is shut-down over the top, Garcon will be there on shorter and intermediate routes, which means that if DeSean is taken out deep, the Redskins passing attack isn’t necessarily done for the day. That said, I get the feeling that we won’t see as many Saints-esque performances with DeSean in Washington, because once a team allows Garcon to make five catches in a quarter in an effort to prevent DeSean from hitting a homerun, they will eventually come up and cover Garcon, which will open things up for DeSean.
The Redskins also added onto RG3’s weapons earlier this off-season with the addition of former Arizona Cardinal Andre Roberts, who is just two seasons removed from having over 750 yards receiving, and figures to be one of the better number three receivers in the league.
Oh yeah, and second-year tight-end Jordan Reed was voted to the Pro Football Writers of America all-rookie team last year, after his physical play netted him 45 catches and 499 receiving yards in nine games, only four of which where starts. So he’s kind of got the look of being a stud tight-end.
That’s all without mentioning Alfred Morris, who behind Adrian Peterson has probably been the best running-back in the NFL the last two seasons. Keep in mind, those were his first two years in the NFL, so I wouldn’t expect his rushing numbers to decline over the next two years. In fact, if Jackson’s ability to stretch the field has the same impact on Alfred Morris that it had on LeSean McCoy, the Redskins may end up having the most productive running-back in the NFL on their roster.
I don’t know about you, but that sounds like a pretty scary young offense to me. And it isn’t like new head-coach Jay Gruden doesn’t have experience turning young skill players into an elite offense, because over the past three years he has turned Andy Dalton and A.J. Green into one of the best quarterback-receiver duos in the NFL. He also had some pretty good success with Giovani Bernard, who showed signs of being one of the most explosive running-backs in the NFL in his rookie season of 2013.
Essentially, the Redskins have one of the better offensive minds now at the helm of their team, and have given him an even better array of weapons than he had in Cincinnati, where things worked out well enough for him to land a head-coaching job.
I’m a diehard Eagles fan (obviously), so the last thing I want to do is to find reasons why the Redskins have a chance to be a really good team in 2014. But I’d say with the additions of Jason Hatcher and Ryan Clark, to a defense that already features DeAngelo Hall, Ryan Kerrigan and Brian Orakpo, the Redskins look like a fairly complete team on both sides of the ball that is ready to rebound from a rough 2013 and compete for the NFC East. Calling them ‘The Island of Misfit Toys’ may be nothing more than wishful thinking.