By the numbers: How DeSean Jackson's presence impacted the Redskins offense

You know DeSean Jackson helps the Redskins offense. Steve Shoup crunches the numbers to show just how much.

By Steve Shoup, special to Breaking Burgundy 

I don’t think any Redskins fan would deny that DeSean Jackson is a playmaker who can impact the offense, but this season afforded the opportunity to show statistically how much of an impact Jackson has. Jackson was injured early in the first game of the season, and then preceded to miss the next six games. He then played in the next eight games, while then dressing but not recording a single target in the final game of the season. That gives a pretty fair breakdown of the offense and Kirk Cousins with and without DeSean Jackson. For the moment we will ignore the week 17 game and just focus on the splits between the first 7 weeks without Jackson and the next 8 weeks with Jackson in the line-up.

Numbers from Pro Football Reference Game Logs

Redskins ppg and yardage numbers without DeSean Jackson:

PPG: 21.14  | Yardage: 340.29

Redskins ppg and yardage numbers with DeSean Jackson:

PPG: 25.75 | Yardage: 355.25

Kirk Cousins without DeSean Jackson:

Comp %:  68.7%  |  Yards: 1,737 | Comp/Attempts: 184/268 | TD: 9 | INT: 8 

TD%: 3.4 | INT%: 3.0% | YPA: 6.48 | YPC: 9.44 | Adj YPA: 5.81

Kirk Cousins with DeSean Jackson:

Comp %: 70.4%   |  Yards: 2,253   | Comp/Attempts: 183/260 | TD: 17 | INT: 3

TD%: 6.5% | INT%: 1.2% | YPA: 8.67 | YPC: 12.31 | Adj YPA: 9.45

[RELATED: NextGen stats shows what happens when DeSean Jackson hits 20 MPH]


In the first seven games with the exception of the high completion percentage, Cousins numbers were average to below average across the board. The yards per attempt or completion were way too low and the TD% was very mediocre. The interception % was lower than it was in 2014, but it was still well below average and would be near the bottom of the league. These looked like the numbers of a lower end game manager QB, which simply wasn’t going to get the Redskins to the post-season especially when the running game was struggling.

In the next eight games it’s a completely different story. The completion percentage remains sky high, but that is now a more impressive number since the Redskins are throwing more downfield and taking shots. That is extremely evident by the YPA number increasing by over 2 yards and the YPC number increasing by almost three yards. 

Now only nine of Jackson’s 30 catches over those eight games came on passes thrown 21+ yards in the air. On those nine passes Jackson picked up 372 yards and 4 TDs, which equalled 70.5% of his total yardage and 100% of his total touchdowns. Jackson dominated Redskins pass catchers in yards per catch and yards per target numbers. Jackson’s 17.6 ypc were well above Pierre Garcon, Jordan Reed and Jamison Crowder who ranged between 10.2-10.9. Jackson nearly matched those yards per catch with his yards per target number at a ridiculous 10.77. The Redskins other top pass catchers fell well below that number: Crowder- 7.74, Reed- 8.35, Garcon- 7.0.

While I think you can definitely point to Jackson’s positive impact on this offense, I will say that there are two other variables which probably lead to the massive splits for Kirk Cousins. The first being the fact that in those first 7 games, Jordan Reed missed two of those game. That is a huge loss that is definitely going to have an impact as well in the passing game. The other variable is that Cousins naturally would get better in the 2nd half of the season, given the additional reps. Cousins wasn’t named the starter until two weeks before the season started so he wasn’t taking the starting reps throughout the entire offseason. With or without Jackson his numbers weren’t likely to be as strong at the start of the year. 

The perfect example is of course the week 17 game where Cousins torched the Cowboys in the 1st half before being pulled for over 170 yards and 3 TDs despite Jackson not being a factor. Now perhaps the Cowboys weren’t trying their best in a meaningless game, but it is an interesting piece of evidence. 

Overall I think Jackson’s impact is high in this offense and the breakout of Kirk Cousins. He’s clearly an elite downfield weapon, that forces defenses to respond to his presence on the field. The splits might exaggerate his impact a bit, but he is definitely a major factor in the Redskins 2nd half run to the playoffs.

Steve is the founder of Click here for the Fanspeak Mock Draft Simulator

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