After missing the first two weeks of Organized Team Activites (OTAs), DeSean Jackson returned to Redskins Park on Monday June 6th.
Jackson, known for his speed and big playmaking ability, caught touchdowns of 56, 63, 28 and 77 yards in the nine games he saw action in 2015. He averaged 17.7 yards per catch (down from 20.9 in 2014) and his knack for tracking the ball in the air is second to none.
Despite his gifted talent, Jackson lacks other qualities found in the most well-balanced players. For starters, his route capability is very limited; he can run the fly, post, seam, and bubble screen, but is rarely seen running the slant, hook, out, or dig patterns. His run blocking comes off as lazy or unenthusiastic on some plays too. This means that as Jackson gets older and loses his speed, his most valuable asset, his route running and blocking will have to compensate if he wants to stay in the NFL and become a more versatile wide receiver.
Jackson’s shortcomings are not limited to the strategy of the game. Jackson often expresses frustration during a game when the Redskins are losing or he isn’t getting the ball enough. His negative physical language doesn’t excite his teammates, it agitates them, seeing as energy of all kind has been known to spread like a virus around fellow players. Jackson also enjoys taunting the defensive backs he just burned as he slowly dances into the end zone, a process otherwise known as “hotdogging.”
This kind of behavior may not seem like a huge deal at times, but it can still make a major difference in the course of a game. A prime example occurred in the Redskins/Packers playoff game last January. Jackson caught a shallow crossing route, a rare sight to begin with, and attempted to outrace a defender to the end zone, only to come up just short because of his decision not to dive in. Any other Redskin receiver – Reed, Garcon, Crowder, etc. – would have muscled their way into the end zone for six points. Instead, the offense stalled and the Redskins had to settle for a field goal. They could have been up 9-0 but instead were only up 5-0 (Preston Smith recorded a sack in the first quarter in the end zone for a safety).
As a general statement, I’d like to see a better attitude out of DeSean Jackson. Make no mistake, he is pretty darn good right now. But, he could always be better; he could be one of the greatest of all time.
It is a positive sign to see Jackson at Redskins Park because he missed seven games last season due to a hamstring injury he sustained in week one after he stretched out to catch a deep ball that was just overthrown. He was not touched by a defender on the play. Early reports indicated that Jackson would be out for three to four weeks but Jackson’s health took much longer to improve. Could Jackson’s injury be a result of his absence from OTAs last offseason? It seems like a probable reason that went into his status. With a little more conditioning and effort, Jackson could be in better shape, maybe build a little more muscle, and strengthen team chemistry.