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Riddick on DeSean Jackson, Part 2

3/31/2014

Louis Riddick wasn't surprised by DeSean Jackson's release. He also knows what Jackson would provide a team, having arrived in Philadelphia the same year as Jackson (2008) and rising to become the Eagles' director of pro personnel two years later. Riddick, now an ESPN NFL Insider, offers insight into what Jackson would provide an offense and how the Redskins, or any team, need to have a well-constructed plan. This is Part 2 of Riddick's thoughts; Part 1 ran earlier on Monday.

Jackson arrives in Washington Monday, but the bulk of his visit will take place Tuesday, a team source said.

Were you surprised by his release?

Louis Riddick: From a football sense, sure. From a team sense, no. The battle that team builders have all the time, the battle they fight, is weighing off-field personal character with on-field skills and potential production. … It’s a lot easier to do it at this point because Chip Kelly is the new sheriff. The investment emotionally and professionally is not bad for him. He wasn’t the guy who decided to give him an extension or who called him on draft day. So it’s easier for him to say if you’re not doing things exactly the way I want, you’re out. It’s obvious that it shows Chip is in charge because two years ago the same people who decided to give DeSean an extension are still there. I have a hard time believing it’s easy for them to say two years later now we’ll cut him. They know DeSean; they know the good and the bad. This is Chip’s decision. He’s running things there.

DeSean has growing up to do. That’s fine. That’s not a crime. That’s just the way it is. You’re not dealing with the easiest guy to deal with. That’s been known. I played with players like that, as teammates, as friends. That’s OK. You just better have a plan. Everybody is at different stages in their program. Philadelphia is a year into their program build. So they’re still trying to implement and get to where everyone they have is on board with it and Chip was the overseer of that.

The Redskins are three months into their new program. Now you’re considering bringing in a player who doesn’t fit with one program. You don’t know what the program will be yet because you haven’t seen it in action yet. They haven’t been around you. You haven’t interacted with them in a setting that matters and now you’re possibly taking on the task of implementing a guy who likes to do things in a certain way and you don’t know how he’ll do them in your program. I know it sounds redundant to say you have to have a plan, but the implementation part of player acquisition is where it all goes wrong. They spend so much time daydreaming how beautiful it can look on the field. I lived through it.

He’s a guy who could make an impact with just one or two catches, as the Redskins saw in 2010. He had that opening touchdown and one other catch in that game. Yet he made a huge impact.

Riddick: He did that kind of thing multiple times during my time in Philadelphia, as someone who was very involved with advance scouting and how we attacked opponents back then. Every week we’d ask, is there someone on that defense we can exploit and match up our No. 1 game-breaker against? We knew he would turn them inside out.

The first play against LaRon [Landry] -- he’s a 4.3 guy in the 40 -- and DeSean basically strided past him and it didn’t look like he was even trying. The ball was in the air and you saw him kick into another gear. But it wasn’t a strain, it was, ‘OK, I need to go from sixth gear or seventh gear.'

DeSean’s top-end speed is transcendent. It’s not like anything you’ve really seen in the NFL ever. That’s the intoxication I’m talking about when scouting a guy like him. In this case you have to weigh that with the fit and the program you have in place and whether it can be managed, whether he is still maturing and still wants to change some of the ways he conducts himself in the building, in the classroom or on the practice field. The Redskins have largely a new staff, especially on offense. It’s a total unknown and there are people there who have never proven themselves as administrators in this regard.

Can it help Jay Gruden having seen how Marvin Lewis implemented plans when bringing on guys like Adam Jones in Cincinnati?

Riddick: Marvin was established. Mike Zimmer was there and that played a role in implementing a plan. He had a nice program rolling there. You’re talking about a place where the coaching staff has been together since January. They’ve never been on the field with these guys. It’s a lot for them, but if they feel up to it, more power to them.