You can list a lot of problems with the Redskins’ offense, which ranks 28th in the league in scoring. Near the top of the list is a lack of big plays.
Getting big chunks of yardage was one of the things that the Redskins offense did well last year. They had 68 plays that gained 20 yards or more, the ninth-best total in the NFL.
Of those 68 big plays, 57 were passes and Kirk Cousins threw 27 of them, the most on the team. Cousins’ favorite target on long passes was, of course, DeSean Jackson. He caught 16 passes that gained 20+ yards from all quarterbacks and seven of those came on Cousins throws.
This year the Redskins are struggling getting chunks of yardage. They have 24 plays that gained 20 yards or more, last in the NFL. Of those, 19 have come on Cousins passes. None of those, of course, went to Jackson, who missed all but a handful of snaps in the first seven games with a hamstring injury.
It’s fine to throw downfield to Jordan Reed, Pierre Garçon, and Jamison Crowder but Jackson is the guy who can score from anywhere on the field.
Cousins said yesterday that he and Jackson are working on connecting on big plays after the receiver played 50 snaps against the Patriots but had just three receptions for 15 yards to show for it.
“I think we’re getting it down. I think it doesn’t take forever,” said Cousins. “I think we’ll be ready to go. What do you do? You just work. You practice, you go out there, you discuss routes after you have them and talk about what he saw in the coverage and what I saw and when I should be letting it go and where he wants the football thrown, all that. It’s all the usual stuff that you go through, preparation, watching film and talking through routes. He looks really sharp, so I’m excited about it."
It didn’t take Jackson and Cousins long to get things going last year. Cousins started and finished four games in 2014. In three of those, Jackson had at least 115 yards receiving and a long touchdown catch.
There may not be much more to the issues against the Patriots beyond the need for Jackson to knock off some rust. Other than the 13 snaps he played before leaving the season opener with the hamstring injury he had not played in an NFL game of any sort since last December 28
“DeSean was frustrated after the game,” said Gruden. “We all were, obviously, with the production of the offense, but when you watch the tape, you could see that DeSean is building his legs back up.”
The translation of the need for Jackson to be “building his legs back up” is that he is not yet up to speed. The sooner he can get back up to 100 percent the better for the Redskins.