The Washington Redskins will be operating at less than 100% on offense come week two, as star wide receiver DeSean Jackson is out with a hamstring injury. Per reports, Jackson sustained the injury when going for a deep ball in Washington’s 17-10 home loss to the Miami Dolphins, and should miss multiple weeks. Early signs suggest a three to four-week absence for the Redskins’ top receiving threat.
Redskins WR Desean Jackson expected to miss three to four weeks with strained hamstring, per source.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) September 14, 2015
It’s bad news for quarterback Kirk Cousins, who likes to chase the deep ball and just lost his best burner in his wide receiving corps. Jackson had really upped his game in each of the past two years, as he established career highs in receptions (82) and yardage (1,332) in 2013 and put up another 1,1169-yard season in 2014 while averaging over 20 yards per catch. That deep speed will be sorely missed going forward, but a 3-4 week recovery time table is much better than losing D-Jax for multiple months or the entire season.
Next Man Up
The injury forces fellow speedster Pierre Garcon into a major role, as he will now operate as Cousins’ #1 wide receiver. Garcon filled Jackson’s shoes while he was out in week one and performed admirably, as he secured six of eight targets for 74 yards. Just two years removed from leading the NFL in receptions (113), Garcon has all of the talent and ability needed to serve as Washington’s top receiver while D-Jax is out.
The depth behind Garcon could be in question, as Andre Roberts steps up as the second receiver and could be capable of helping out on a high level, but the depth chart at wide receiver thins out badly after that. Washington may have to ask a lot out of the likes of Jamison Crowder and Ryan Grant, two talented but inexperienced receivers who may not be ready to make a substantial impact. Rather than forcing the ball to receivers that aren’t prepared, the Redskins may just lean harder on Garcon and Roberts, while also keeping tight end Jordan Reed heavily involved in the passing game. Reed was impressive with a big role in week one, as he hauled in seven catches for over 60 yards and a score.
Washington might be able to still produce on offense without Jackson, but there is no denying they’re losing a huge element to their passing attack. Garcon will now be the primary deep threat, which could have Roberts very active in the slot and Reed active over the middle of the field and in the red-zone. The Redskins already weren’t being regarded as a playoff contender, while an 0-1 start has them behind the eight ball as they try to turn things around. Quarterback Kirk Cousins was shaky in his first start of the year, and not having DeSean Jackson for the next month won’t calm inner concerns that he (or any Redskins quarterback) aren’t good enough to lead Washington to a division title. If Cousins does in fact prove his critics wrong, it will be in impressive fashion over the next few weeks without one of his top weapons. Needless to say, Washington’s long-term outlook is worse than ever, while they’ll be a tough sell when placing NFL bets over the next 3-4 weeks.