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NFC East: Adding Jackson Puts Focus Back On Redskins

Posted Apr 2, 2014

It would have been too easy and too boring for the Cowboys if DeSean Jackson had disappeared off to Oakland or Cleveland.

Instead, he'll turn the spotlight back on Washington -- which is precisely where it was for much of 2013, if you'll remember. Jackson agreed to terms with the Redskins on Tuesday night.

It almost seemed like the inevitable conclusion to Jackson's release from Philadelphia last week. In keeping with the NFC East's penchant for drama, the move not only keeps him within the same division as his old team, the Eagles, but also his old nemesis, the Cowboys.

The news brings a strange story to an end, as it had only been five days since the Eagles released Jackson for no definitive reason. It was widely speculated the three-time Pro Bowler would find a new home relatively quickly, and Washington wasted no time after visiting with Jackson on Monday night.

As if the storied Cowboys-Redskins rivalry needed any more juice, it certainly has picked up a bit this offseason. Washington signed lifelong Cowboys and 2013 Pro Bowler Jason Hatcher just three days into free agency, and now the Redskins have added Jackson -- a favorite target of Dallas fans during his career in Philadelphia.

In truth, Jackson's success against the Cowboys has been lacking when compared to his impressive six-year career. He has played 11 games against Dallas, tallying 39 catches for 688 yards and just two touchdowns. That's an average of 3.5 catches for 62.5 yards per game.

There are two obvious outliers there: Jackson torched the Cowboys for 210 yards and a touchdown on four catches in 2010, and he was also limited to just six catches for 49 yards in two games last year.

That said, the addition of one of the league's best deep threats is an undeniable boon for Washington. The Redskins have been lacking explosiveness in the passing game for what feels like ages. In fact, Pierre Garcon's 1,346-yard effort in 2013 was the team's first 1,000-yard season by a receiver since 2010, and it was just the team's fourth 1,000-yard receiving season since 2004.

Combining Garcon and Jackson is undoubtedly going to open up the passing game for Robert Griffin III, who hasn't had a true No. 1 receiver during his brief NFL career. It should also decrease the focus on Alfred Morris and Washington's vaunted ground game, which was already plenty successful when the Redskins didn't have a deep threat like Jackson.

On paper, at least, this is Washington's most intimidating offense in some time. If Griffin returns to his 2012 form, and the offensive line can keep him on his feet, the Redskins should have no problems scoring points.

Of course, the offense scored plenty last season. The bigger problem was a leaky defense -- something every team in the NFC East can likely relate to. The Redskins have taken some steps toward fixing that, headlined by the addition of Hatcher.

But there's no doubt that adding Jackson is the first truly blockbuster move an NFC East team has made this offseason. The Cowboys and Redskins had both already added Pro Bowlers to this point -- but Hatcher is turning 32 and Henry Melton is coming off ACL surgery.

The Eagles made waves by trading for Darren Sproles, but he is more of a complimentary piece. The Giants have added several good-not-great players, but no bonafide stars.

The Jackson deal is sure to put the Redskins in the limelight during Jay Gruden's first season as coach. It's hard to imagine high expectations for a team that finished 3-13 and doesn't possess a first-round draft pick, but that's what it's looking like.

Signing an All-Pro, hot button target will do that for you -- especially in this division.

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