The 2014 Redskins are loaded with storylines. Between now and the start of the first veteran minicamp on April 29, Rich Tandler and Tarik El-Bashir will examine 20 questions Washington faces as Jay Gruden pieces together the roster, finalizes his playbook and preps for his first season as a head coach in the NFL.
Will DeSean Jackson boom or bust in Washington?
After about a month of free agency it looked like the Redskins were done. But then the Eagles released DeSean Jackson and Bruce Allen and Jay Gruden pounced. Jackson, coming off of a career year that saw him catch 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns, brings an element of speed that the team hasn’t had in, well, forever. But having a speedy player and being able to utilize that asset can be two different things. How will Jackson fare under Gruden with Robert Griffin III throwing to him? How will he mesh with Pierre Garçon, the NFL’s leading receiver last year?
Tandler: The cautionary tale here is the Dolphins’ acquisition of Mike Wallace a year ago. He didn’t have a terrible year, with 73 receptions for 930 yards. But if you do the math, that’s a pedestrian average of 12.7 yards per catch, well under the 17.2 he averaged in his four years in Pittsburgh. The Redskins already had a move-the-chains receiver in Garçon. They need Jackson to be a light-up-the-scoreboard type of receiver. It seems that Gruden is capable of drawing up plays that will give Griffin and Jackson an opportunity to connect on some big plays. Last year Andy Dalton completed 13 passes the NFL described as “deep” that gained 30 yards or more. One would think that if Dalton is capable of doing that Griffin is, too. But Jackson’s speed, Griffin’s arm, and Gruden’s X’s and O’s won’t mean much if the offensive line can’t give the quarterback time to throw to the receiver. There already have been some shakeups along the line and more could be on the way if Gruden believes protection will be an obstacle to his quarterback being able to utilize his $8 million per year weapon.
El-Bashir: I expect Jackson to have a big year for a couple of reasons: he’s motivated and RG3 is motivated. Jackson wants to prove the rest of the league that Chip Kelly was foolish for cutting him. Meantime, RG3 wants to prove that he is, indeed, the franchise quarterback the Redskins drafted him to be. That may not sound like a big deal, but in professional sports, motivation/determination (think contract year, etc.) can be a major catalyst. I’m also curious to see how opposing defensive coordinators plan to contend with Garçon, Jackson, Andre Roberts, Jordan Reed and Alfred Morris. Something tells me Jackson is going to find himself open a lot, particularly early in the season as defenses play catch up. The only question—and it’s a big one—is whether RG3 can deliver the ball to Jackson, on time and in stride. I suspect he will. I also expect Jackson to be on his best behavior, especially after the reports out of Philadelphia that hinted at attitude problems, a poor work ethic and aloofness with his teammates. Again, if Jackson wants to prove everyone wrong, there’s only one way to do it.
- April 10: Who from the draft class of 2011 will step up?
- April 11: Who will claim the punter position?
- April 12: What 2013 draft pick will emerge to play a key role?
- April 13: Will Brian Orakpo take the next step?
- April 14: Will Jordan Reed have a Pro Bowl season?
- April 15: Will the Haslett without handcuffs scheme work?
- April 16: Who will start on the offensive line?
- April 17: What will Jay Gruden’s offense look like?
- April 18: What effect will Jackson have on the rest of the receivers?
- April 19: How much better will the pass rush be with Jason Hatcher?
- April 20: Who will replace London Fletcher at inside linebacker?
- April 22: Who will return punts and kickoffs?
- April 22: Will special teams improve?
- April 23: Who will assume London Fletcher’s leadership role?
- April 24: Is there enough depth on the offensive line?
- April 25: Is David Amerson ready to start?
- April 26: Who will start at safety?
- Yesterday: Can Pierre Garçon repeat his 2013 production?
- Today: Will DeSean Jackson boom or bust in DC?
- Tomorrow: Will RG3 bounce back?