Following a Week 9 loss to the New York Giants (3-6), the Las Vegas Raiders (5-3) are prepared to welcome WR DeSean Jackson to the Silver and Black with open arms. The 13-year veteran will turn 35 on Dec. 1. Las Vegas is not getting a prime “D. Jax” but they are getting an experienced burner who can still blow past defensive backs, something the Raiders needed to replace after the release of former WR Henry Ruggs III.
“It’ll be good for us to get another speed element going on offense, we are excited about getting him to practice,” interim head coach Rich Bisaccia said about Jackson.
In the 23-16 loss to the Giants it was not a secret the Raiders were going to have to see some success from WRs Zay Jones and Bryan Edwards. Jones was targeted four times and reeled in one of those targets for 20 yards. Edwards also saw four targets and was unable to catch any of them.
Edwards is in his second year and is still developing whereas Jones has benefited from being towards the back end of the depth chart then coming onto the field in specific packages. Relying on this pairing from start to finish was not going to provide the Raiders the type of separation or capability to the passing game that the team needs to win.
Which brings us to the Raiders’ pick up of DeSean Jackson, who the Raiders hope can get his best efforts down the stretch of the season. Let’s take a look at some of the things Jackson can bring to Las Vegas but also a key factor that the Raiders need to be cautious about when it comes to their new WR.
Since 2008 Jackson has 10,877 receiving yards which ranks 4th in the NFL, followed by a 17.5 yard average per catch which is tied for 1st. 133 of his catches have gone for over 25 yards, best in the entire league. At one point in this season, Ruggs III was 3rd in the NFL with 7 catches over 20+ yards. Plugging in Jackson for the role of Ruggs III will help the Raiders get their deep threat back.
Jackson spent a very brief stint with the Los Angeles Rams this season. His best game came against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers when Jackson pulled in three deep balls for 120 yards and a touchdown, his lone score of the 2021 season. Jackson saw 2-3 targets a game for the Rams before asking for his release. His production could increase in Las Vegas, or it very well could stay the same given the targets thrown to TE Darren Waller, WR Hunter Renfrow and even some to RB Kenyan Drake.
Whether or not Jackson gets over three targets a game should not be the concern for the Raiders. If he is on the field, the receiving corps is able to roll out better packages than without him. But, the true concern is how long will the Raiders actually have him on the field?
Since 2019 Jackson has only been able to play in 13 games. He was placed on the injured reserve that had him miss all but three games of the 2019 season with the Philadelphia Eagles and placed again on the IR in 2020 that cut his return to Philly short after just five games. Jackson was able to bring in four touchdowns in the span of the 2019-2021 seasons.
Las Vegas has done the right thing by bringing in DeSean Jackson. If the veteran can stay healthy down the stretch, the Raiders will be able to benefit from his experience and as a deep ball threat as they look to keep pace in a very wide-open AFC playoff race.
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