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Redskins Gruden on Jackson: 'He has not slowed down at all'

Redskins Gruden on Jackson: 'He has not slowed down at all'

If the Redskins are going to beat the Giants on Sunday and make it into the NFL playoffs, it seems likely that DeSean Jackson is going to have to play a part in it. The veteran receiver has been on fire lately. He has over 100 yards receiving in four of his last five games. In the other game in that stretch he caught a 59-yard bomb that set up a Redskins touchdown. In all, since the Redskins’ Thanksgiving Day game in Dallas Jackson has 20 receptions for 504 yards, a blistering average of 25.2 yards per reception.

Jackson was not as effective in most games earlier in the season but he did play a key role in the Redskins’ Week 3 win over the Giants He caught five passes for 96 yards but two of those catches loomed large. The Redskins were trailing 21-9 with the second quarter winding down. From the Washington 25, Kirk Cousins hooked up with Jackson twice. The first one covered 31 yards and on the very next play Cousins went to Jackson in the end zone for the touchdown. Two plays, 75 yards, and the Redskins were back in the game.

In Jackson’s recent hot streak, it doesn’t matter if the other team goes zone or with man coverage. He can beat either.

“Some of them he’s beaten man coverage, which is good to see,” said Jay Gruden. “But for the most part he’s making big plays in zones, which the two catches that he had – or three – big plays that he had were in zone coverage so it’s good to see him find holes in zones and the quarterback finding him. But, like I said before, we have a progression-based offense, especially when you play zone. And it’s up to the quarterback and the offensive line to have the time and find the right spots in the right holes and Kirk did a great job. So did DeSean.”

Jackson turned 30 earlier this month. At that age, the potential to lose some speed starts to be a concern. But not for Jackson, at least as far as Gruden is concerned.

“He’s not slowed down at all,” said Gruden. “Sometimes when he’s jogging it looks like he’s running 100 miles an hour. He’s got great speed, obviously he’s got great quickness and still has unbelievable hands.”

The Redskins need to take advantage of his speed, quickness, great hands, and production while they can. Jackson will be a free agent in 2017 and the organization may have to decide between keeping Jackson and keeping Pierre Garçon, who also turned 30 recently and he also will be a free agent. The two players combined to take up more than $18 million in cap space this year. They are likely to sign similar contracts next year and the Redskins will be wary of having so much money tied up in two receivers who are over 30 years old.

Jackson said on Wednesday that he is intrigued by the prospect of become a free agent but he will worry about that when the time comes. For now, he wants to go deep and try to get his current team into the playoffs.

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Ron Rivera sees releasing Josh Norman as an opportunity for Redskins to get younger

Ron Rivera sees releasing Josh Norman as an opportunity for Redskins to get younger

On Friday the Redskins released veteran cornerback Josh Norman, and on Saturday head coach Ron Rivera explained that the decision allowed the team to get younger at a key position. 

"The big thing is it's an opportunity for us to get younger. Josh is a veteran guy and again, just looking at the young guys that we have, we got to get these guys on the football field and more exposed," Rivera said. 

Rivera spoke to reporters at a charity event in Charlotte, and while everything he said is true, it's also not the full story. Yes, Norman just turned 32 in December, but Washington's decision to cut him was not solely about age. 

Norman was set to make $15 million in 2020, and the team will save $12.5 million on the salary cap by letting him go. And his level of play no longer validated the hefty price tag and probably hasn't for the last two seasons. Norman finished the 2019 season on the bench and only played in rare situations when the other active cornerbacks were hurt. 

As for a youth movement at cornerback, it's coming, ready or not. Quinton Dunbar is in the last year of his deal and will be 28 when the season starts. Fabian Moreau will be in the last year of his rookie deal and will be 26 when the season starts. Jimmy Moreland had an up and down rookie year in 2019 and will be 25 when the season starts this fall. 

Some NFL sources also expect the Redskins to be quite active in free agency, particularly at the cornerback spot. Two names to watch are unrestricted free agents James Bradberry and Bashaud Breeland. Bradberry played for Rivera in Carolina while Breeland nearly signed with the Panthers as a free agent in 2018 before a foot injury voided his contract. 

So sure, the Redskins released Norman in part of an effort to get a younger roster. But there was plenty more involved, Rivera just decided to take the high road with his public comments. 

NOTES: Rivera also got asked about taking the Redskins job earlier this offseason: "It's going well. It's a little bit of a transition obviously as well. It's an opportunity to change things and kind of put things in the way we want to have them done. "

The coach also got asked about the difference between coaching in Charlotte and coaching in D.C. "The area is huge. Compared to here there's a lot of people," Rivera said. "It's very loud. All the restaurants are very loud." True words. 

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How much do people love Ron Rivera? Watch this video from Charlotte

How much do people love Ron Rivera? Watch this video from Charlotte

Panthers owner David Tepper fired head coach Ron Rivera after Week 12 of the 2019 season. Usually an in-season firing means that fans have turned on the coach amid a lost season.

In Carolina, that wasn't exactly the case.

When Rivera was fired, he and his wife Stephanie took out a full-page ad in The Charlotte Observer to thank a number of people and show gratitude for his nine years as head coach of the Panthers. That's unusual.

It seems that many Panthers fans were waiting to get their opportunity to thank Rivera, and on Saturday, it came.

Hundreds of Carolina fans showed up in Charlotte to say goodbye to Rivera as well as raise money for the Charlotte Humane Society. Why? Rivera decided to hold a yard sale of sorts, selling much of his Panthers gear, signed shirts and memorabilia going to the Humane Society. The event raised more than $30,000. 

The whole idea is admirable, and it appears from social media that the execution was a hit. 

Rivera's relationship with Redskins fans is just beginning, but if the crowd in Charlotte is any indication, it should be a fun ride. Winning helps too, and for most of his nine seasons in Carolina the Panthers won. That will build goodwill with any fan base, and in Washington, fans are desperate for some playoff football. 

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