If DeSean Jackson’s release by the Philadelphia Eagles was shocking, then his new home may be even more intriguing.
The Washington Redskins acquired the former Eagles wide receiver on April 1, a move which could turn last year’s bottom-dwelling Washington team into a potential contender. Jackson adds speed and explosiveness to an already impressive lineup of threats.
Robert Griffin III struggled last season coming off an ACL injury, but looks to return to the form that saw him pilot a young Washington team to the playoffs two seasons ago. Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed, Alfred Morris and Trent Williams round off a solid group of talented and athletic players at key offensive positions.
Still, Washington was horrible last year, and expecting a major turnaround behind the signing of Jackson could be a bit much to expect. Or could it? The AFRO’s Stephen D. Riley and Perry Green of the AFRO Sports Desk debate Washington’s chances in 2014.
Riley: I love the speed that Jackson adds to this offense. Garcon showed that he has talent beyond what Peyton Manning did for him in Indianapolis and Reed, Morris and even Roy Helu Jr. have all proved themselves as legitimate threats. Garcon, Helu and Reed were already speedsters at their positions, and we know a healthy RGIII can out run an entire secondary. Adding Jackson to the mix makes them highly explosive and pretty scary to game plan against. Washington’s problems last year were many, and mainly boiled down to quarterback play, line protection and pressuring the pocket. But injuries to key players in those areas didn’t help. A healthy roster going into next season should help alleviate some of those sore spots, along with the aid of a new coaching staff. Jackson’s addition could be a turning point for the team.
Green: As you mentioned, Washington was horrible last year across several phases of the game. While Jackson is one of the most exciting players to watch in the game today, his presence will probably turn out like most of the Washington summer free agent signings of the past: good on paper, but short on substance. How many splashy moves has Washington made over the years while ignoring other problem areas, just to get the fan base excited? Jackson could be walking into a nightmare if last season repeats itself. This team is still riding on Griffin’s knee, and his performance got him benched for the final three and a half games. Adding Jackson certainly gives the team another weapon, but it’s not enough to combat their other ailments.
Riley: Sometimes an explosive offense can power a team through other glaring problem areas. We just saw the Denver Broncos use a machine-like scoring unit to rack up two impressive seasons. No one’s predicting a Washington Super Bowl, but does anybody else in the NFC East really wow you? The Dallas Cowboys and the New York Giants are maddeningly inconsistent. Last year’s division champs, the Eagles, just lost their best receiver—which isn’t good news for quarterback Nick Foles, who is entering just his second season as a starter. Jackson’s never been arrested or ever involved in off-the-field dramatics that could endanger his team, so I couldn’t care less what the Eagles thought when they released him. Washington just got one of the better receivers in the NFL, and he’s going to help push them to another level, provided RGIII’s knee holds up.
Green: I’m just not buying this whole worst-to-first thing all thanks to the addition of a receiver who’s known to be a malcontent. If you were anywhere near the Washington locker room last season, then you know it was a war zone at the facility. I can’t see how a usually disgruntled lightweight wideout will bring leadership or stop the problem from getting worse. Dallas, Philadelphia and New York still have more talent and better leadership. You pretty much know what you’ll get out of their quarterbacks. If we get anything close to the RGIII that we got last year, then Washington is in trouble. Griffin would really have to make a return to his 2012 form if he’s going to get this team right again. Based on how horrible he was at times last year, I can’t say that he will. This is as much about Griffin as it is Jackson. If this was 2012, I would say look out for Washington, but I can’t see how a prima donna wide receiver and a quarterback struggling to get back on the right track can successfully coexist on a team that finished as the NFL’s second worst team last year.