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Washington has started three quarterbacks this season in an effort to find one that works. It's been terrible. Despite the shuffling, one offensive player hasn't been affected much at all: DeSean Jackson, the big-play receiver with the busted quarterbacks, has kept busting up defenses.

Outside of a game against Jacksonville where he hurt his shoulder, Jackson's been shockingly consistent for a player whose game is predicated upon plays that shouldn't come off with this much consistency. He's had four games with at least 100 receiving yards—impressive considering Washington's erratic offense—and though Jackson isn't performing at the consistent level of, say, Antonio Brown, his chunks of production are substantially valuable in context. Per Football Outsiders, Washington's best receiver is in the league's top 10 in terms of DYAR and DVOA, actually coming out a good deal more valuable than Brown on a per play basis.


We won't get too much into play-design breakdowns, because frankly, we already know what Jackson can do. He's fast, good at getting just enough separation on a defender, and has a knack for coming down with balls that someone his size really shouldn't have a chance of coming down with. Jackson's been perfect on catchable deep passes this season, coming down with all seven targets (out of 13 total) of 20 yards or more to earn 351 yards and two touchdowns, according to Pro Football Focus. He's tied with Emmanuel Sanders and DeAndre Hopkins for the highest catch rate in the league on all deep balls among qualified receivers (58.3%).

With Jackson as a weapon, Washington's quarterbacks are looking deep frequently. In Cousins's limited snaps in 2013, he looked deep—as in, 20 yards or more—7.1% of the time. This season, the rate's up to 12.3%. The increase in stretching the field is also influenced by new head coach Jay Gruden, the former Bengals offensive coordinator who had A.J. Green at his disposal.

Jackson's one bad game with a full showing was a Week 4 Thursday night showdown against the Giants, in which Kirk Cousins threw four picks as Jackson was targeted four times. He finished with one catch for nine yards on a lovely in-and-out route on corner Prince Amukamara. His other targets: dropped screen, a pass out of bounds, and an interception when Jackson overran Cousins's deep pass, allowing Antrel Rolle to easily pick it off. The Giants' coverage worked well against Jackson, as did the rest of the defense against Cousins.

But Cousins is on the bench now, and Jackson has continued to produce with his new quarterback. McCoy has targeted him 11 times in two starts, and Jackson caught nine passes for 185 yards. Washington's next two games are against the Vikings and Bucs; Jackson should be able to keep making big plays against those secondaries.


Photo: Getty

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