Washington Redskins linebacker Rob Jackson (above) isn’t a household name to many NFL fans, which understandable since he’s a reserve who plays primarily on special teams (and Redskins fans know how bad their team’s special teams unit has been in 2013). Jackson also serves as backup to right outside linebacker Brian Orakpo. Recently, Washington resigned Jackson to a multi-year contract; it was an under the radar signing that reaffirms Jackson’s worth to the Redskins.
Jackson started 14 games in 2012 when Orakpo suffered a season ending triceps injury two games into the season. Jackson made the most of his opportunity, recording four and a half sacks, as well as four interceptions that season. He had a game saving fourth quarter pick in the 2012 season finale against the Dallas Cowboys that sealed Washington’s first divisional title since 1999.
Orakpo returned to his familiar spot in 2013, returning Jackson to reserve status. Based on his production in 2012, it can be reasoned that Jackson should become a permanent starter at outside linebacker. This may sound crazy, since Jackson only started one game in 2013. In addition, the Redskins have a pair of good outside linebackers in Orakpo and Ryan Kerrigan, who are already starting. Orakpo is the Redskins’ best pass rusher, leading the team with 10 sacks in 2013. Kerrigan recorded 8.5 sacks in 2013, finishing second. It’ll be hard to replace that kind of production.
However, Washington may not have to. While undersized, Kerrigan could be a good fit at defensive end. He is efficient against the run, leading the team with 11 tackles for a loss. Kerrigan also has an uncanny knack for jumping into passing lanes and knocking passes down. Moving him to the defensive front opens up the left outside linebacker position for Jackson.
Moving Kerrigan to defensive end, while moving Jackson into the starting lineup, won’t inspire comparisons of the 2014 Washington Redskins’ defense to the 2000 Baltimore Ravens’ defense. However, the Redskins finished 18th in total defense last season, so what do they have to lose? Washington signed linebackers Adam Hayward, Darryl Sharpton and Akeem Jordan. Each of these linebackers will most likely have to contribute on special teams if they want to retain a roster spot. One of them could replace Jackson on special teams if he’s promoted to the starting lineup.
The Redskins have a new coach in Jay Gruden, and are coming off a dismal 3-13 record in 2013. It’s not like they’re tweaking a Super Bowl caliber team, which is why moving Jackson to the starting lineup would be a good move.