LA Rams Matthew Stafford to DeSean Jackson. Get used to it.

Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Robert Hanashiro-USA TODAY Sports /

If you followed the LA Rams acquisitions over the course of the 2021 offseason, you noticed that the team was content to sit on the sidelines and let the other 31 NFL team rummage and fight over the top players in the 2021 NFL Free Agency market. Well, save one, that is. The LA Rams signed a veteran wide receiver who had played for head coach Sean McVay when they were both with the Washington Football Team. He is wide receiver DeSean Jackson, one of the most dangerous offensive weapons in the NFL who is coming home to California after two injury-riddled and disappointing seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles.

Some do not think he has anything left in the tank. We think they’re wrong.

Of course, it is rather easy to overlook the noteworthy career of Jackson after the meh production he had with the Philadelphia Eagles. Over the course of two seasons, he was only able to play eight games, catching 23 of 36 passes for 395 yards and three touchdowns. Four two seasons? Those are very pedestrian numbers. For eight games? Those are pretty good numbers.

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McVay knows how to use DeSean Jackson

Unlike some of Jackson’s more recent roles, LA Rams head coach Sean McVay has worked with DeSean Jackson in the past. The Rams did not sign DJax to work100 percent of the offensive snaps. More likely, the Rams will rotate him in for about 30-35 percent of the offense. But when he is on the field for those 10+ plays per game, he’ll be working the football field deep.

Quarterback Matthew Stafford throws one of the prettiest and most effective long balls in the NFL. DeSean Jackson catches one of the fastest deep passes in the league. See where we are going with this? Over the past 13 seasons, Jackson’s longest catch runs from a low of 41 yards to a high of 91 yards. In McVay’s offense, he’s done longest catches of 77, 80, and 81 yards. And for what it’s worth, Jackson had an 81-yard reception in 2020, so he’s still got it.

DeSean Jackson is not on the LA Rams roster to play a decoy throughout the game. He’s not even on the roster to compete for a top wide receiver spot. He is here to fill a very specific role for the LA Rams and fill it well. The last season he played in McVay’s offense, he put up over 1000 yards receiving and four touchdowns.

You dropped a bomb on me

He will likely put up much fewer total receiving yards for the Rams this year. But even if he is limited in his usage, he will still be targeted deep downfield by Rams quarterback Matthew Stafford. There are several reasons for this.

The first of course is to move the chains and get touchdowns. DeSean Jackson is one of those players who can score from anywhere on the football field as long as he has the football in his hands. He’s got the speed and the field vision to turn any play into a big play.

Secondly, and perhaps just as importantly, even if he doesn’t catch a deep pass, he opens up the football field for short to intermediate passes, and even the running game. Many defenses discovered that crowding the box with eight defenders and varying blitz packages would confuse former Rams quarterback Jared Goff and stymie the offense. With Jackson, Stafford has an easy outlet to defeat that gamble and make them pay with big yardage. So defenses will play a safety deep to double cover Jackson, and freeing up another receiver or even create opportunities to run.

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Stafford drops back, looks to his left, and throws a ball deep down the right sideline to streaking DeSean Jackson for a 52-yard gain. If you don’t think it can happen, you are due for a rude awakening.  Quarterback Matthew Stafford will be throwing deep to DeSean Jackson all season. You may as well get used to hearing it.