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.