DeSean Jackson looked electric in training camp, but so far in eight games, the results have been pedestrian. Through half the year, Jackson has 30 catches for 416 yards and a touchdown, though his most revealing stat in his 13.9 yards-per-catch average.
Historically, Jackson's YPC is much higher, a testament to his ability to get past defenders and track the vertical ball. Last season, he averaged 17.6 YPC, and in 2014 it was 20.9. Even as a rookie in 2008, Jackson was averaging nearly a full-yard more per catch than he is right now.
Connecting on long passes hasn't happened much this year, and a few weeks back, Redskins QB Kirk Cousins explained that he follows his reads in the offense and can't focus too much on getting the ball to players like Jackson and Pierre Garçon.
"I may not be going to DeSean or Pierre every time," Cousins said after the loss to the Lions, "but we're completing the football and going where my reads take me."
Second in the NFL with 2,454 passing yards, Cousins is certainly doing something right. The Redskins offense moves the ball through the air quite effectively, even if they get bogged down in the red zone at an alarming rate.
For his part, Jay Gruden doesn't want Cousins worried about where the ball goes as long as the offense moves.
"We can’t force the issue," Gruden said of getting the ball to Jackson after the Bengals game.
"I think Kirk has enough on his plate to worry about who is getting their stat numbers."
Cousins does steer a very versatile 'Skins offense, and through eight games, has leaned much heavier on Jamison Crowder and Jordan Reed than any other receiver. Still, Gruden wants to keep Jackson a key part of the offense.
"DeSean is a great player," the coach said. "We have to try to figure out ways to get him more involved in the offense."
During the last four games, Jackson has been targeted 31 times, though he has just 15 catches. Against the Ravens, Cousins looked deep to Jackson multiple times, but the pair couldn't connect. In fact, Jackson's longest catch of the season is 44 yards, well below his norm, though another eight games remain.
Cousins caught fire in the second half of the 2015 season, and the Redskins offense became a juggernaut. The same could still happen this season, and if it does, Jackson's 'stat numbers' are likely to boom.
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