After two seasons that resulted in last-place finishes in the NFC East, wide receiver DeSean Jackson believes the Washington Redskins are ready to break out in 2015.
DeSean Jackson is pretty confident the Redskins can turn things around this season.
While most media members are already predicting that the either the Dallas Cowboys or Philadelphia Eagles will take the NFC East this fall, Jackson isn't under the same impression.
During a segment with ESPN980 last week, Jackson, who is entering his second season in Washington, took things another notch, expressing his belief that the Redskins are "the team to beat" in the division this year.
"Well if you want to be political and say on paper, I think all the ESPN guys and all the bloggers will probably say the Dallas Cowboys," Jackson said. "But in my eyes, I already think we're going to surprise a lot of people this year. I'll say once again, I'm excited about the new additions that [have] come in. Really, we just have to kind of build a camaraderie. So once the season starts and we're ahead full speed, I think we're gonna surprise a lot of people, and a lot of people are really gonna be saying, 'Wow, those guys are pretty good.'"
It was a rough two seasons for the Redskins in 2013 and 2014, with a combined seven victories over that span.
But three years ago, led by then-rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III, the Redskins shocked the NFL by winning their final seven games en route to the NFC East title.
Jackson said a key in getting back to those winning ways is making Griffin III comfortable under center and make "his job that much easier."
"I think he really can't put too much pressure on himself," the wide receiver explained. "He has the world on his shoulders and everybody expects a lot out of him and don't get me wrong, I'm sure he expects a lot out of himself as well and I do too, but he just kind of has to let everybody around him help him out. That's what teammates are for and that's what guys – receivers and tight ends and running backs – are for."
Griffin III, of course, can make plays with his arm in the pocket, but can cause problems outside of it, as well.
With speed found in his running backs and wide receivers, defenses must also account for Griffin III's ability to break free.
"He has a lot of attributes that are able to get him out of a lot of situations," Jackson said. "I just think he understands what he's good at doing and he takes advantage of that. As far as getting [out] of the pocket if nothing is open and he's able to use his athletic ability to run and keep plays alive. And not only running the ball. If things break down, he's able to keep plays longer, similar to when I used to play with Michael Vick."
Jackson also said that once Griffin III's out in space, "he's still able to throw the ball down the field and make huge plays."
In 2012, Jackson saw firsthand how effective the former AP Rookie of the Year can be if given time.
"I can remember how he kind of killed us when I was with the Eagles," he said. "I was like, 'Man, this guy was amazing.' He was a young quarterback. I mean whatever it is he needs to get back, fine. I'm not the offensive coordinator, I don't control the offense, but whatever it is he's comfortable at where he can be himself and dish the ball off and run the ball if he needs to and just make sure [he] facilities our full offense. Whatever that is, hopefully we're able to get back to that and let him get comfortable."