The Routes of DeSean Jackson

Steve Palazzolo digs into the PFF route data for a breakdown of DeSean Jackson's 2013 season.

| 3 years ago

The Routes of DeSean Jackson

Routes-desean-jacksonIn an effort to add to the reams of data that we already collect at PFF, we took the passing game to a whole new level in 2013.

Instead of just tracking each receiver’s targeted route, we went ahead and charted every route run on every pass play in the NFL. So we can now tell you how often each receiver ran a particular route, which depth he ran it, and whether or not he was targeted.

This data becomes quite useful when analyzing what each receiver is asked to do, but it’s also quite handy when determining passing concepts for each team. We now have the data to break down how often teams run their favorite plays, and the corresponding tendencies that come with them.

How often did Peyton Manning run his staple “levels” concept? How often did Chip Kelly have a built in bubble screen for his slot receivers? Which team’s receivers run the deepest routes? This is the type of data that can only be found in the PFF database, and it’s a big reason why NFL teams are looking to add our information into their weekly scouting reports.

Of course the news of the day is DeSean Jackson’s signing with the Washington Redskins, so what better way to debut the data than to break down each of his routes from 2013. Here’s a look at Jackson’s route chart as well as a peek into Chip Kelly’s offense in Philadelphia.


•  When lined up outside, Jackson ran ‘go’ routes 36% of the time and hitches 21% of the time. The next most common routes were posts at 10.9%.

•  From the slot, Jackson ran crossing routes 24.7% of the time while running WR screens 20% of the time (mostly bubble screens).

•  Of Jackson’s 38 crossing routes from the slot, 27 of them were shallow drags and 11 were deep crossers (over route).



•  Jackson’s highest targeted route was the ‘go’ route with 23, but he was only targeted 14.6% of the time when running it.

•  Putting WR screens aside, Jackson was targeted on 30.6% of his crossing routes and 22.1% of his hitches, the highest totals for any route targeted at least 10 times.

•  Jackson ran only 14 slants on the season as the route is not a staple of Chip Kelly’s offense.



•  The sample size is small, but Jackson showed well on corner routes picking up 78 yards on his four targets while running it 14 times.

•  While Jackson is often seen exclusively as a deep threat, he did some damage on crossing routes (both drags and deep crossers) picking up 3.93 Yards Per Route Run. He was not as proficient on other in-breaking routes as in-routes and slants come in at 1.58 and 1.36, respectively.

•  The Eagles snuck Jackson into the backfield a handful of times, usually with a purpose. They targeted him on 30% of his 20 backfield routes for 5.06 Yards Per Route Run.

Final Word

Keeping the off-field stuff aside, Jackson will provide a lot of value to quarterback Robert Griffin III and the Redskins. Even if he continues to do most of his work on go routes and crossers, he’ll provide a nice field-stretching complement to WR Pierre Garcon and second-year tight end Jordan Reed. After posting a strong accuracy percentage of 50 percent on deep balls in his  rookie season in 2012, Griffin took a step back last year at only 30.4 percent, good for 20th among the Top 21 qualifiers. Adding Jackson to the mix should only help those numbers while also providing opportunities for the rest of his versatile receiving corps.


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| Senior Analyst

Steve is a senior analyst at Pro Football Focus. His work has been featured on ESPN Insider, NBC Sports, and 120 Sports.

  • Sifter

    Interesting numbers! Running the go route most often makes sense to me. DeSean’s speed is feared and helps to stretch the D while it sets up your other routes too as the corner is questioning when to turn and run.

  • Bob

    completely blown away…great data!!!! what an asset!!