DeSean Jackson’s always good for some offseason controversy. This time, he said some things about Jameis Winston—nothing particularly controversial, but he went on ESPN’s First Take to share some of his thoughts on the lack of production last year.
The substance of his comments isn’t that interesting. Standard stuff: he felt like he could have gotten the ball deep more (true), but that there were a lot of reasons why that didn’t work (also true). He said that Jameis Winston has everything he needs to be a franchise quarterback (true), and that Winston should get back to playing like he’s in the yard, instead of trying to impress people (debatable).
More interesting is what which outlet tried to highlight. ESPN led with the positives: “Jackson confident in Bucs’ future”. The Tampa Bay Times with the controversial stuff: “DeSean Jackson says Jameis Winston needs to stop trying to “impress the world,” and play his game”, and Pro Football Talk split the difference.
Mostly this is a sign that folks can read what they want to into most player comments. It’s just about which part of which comment you emphasize, and how you frame it. Is Jackson really criticizing his quarterback, or being positive with some notes for improvement? And does this even matter?
Ultimately, of course, it doesn’t. What matters it that Jackson makes an impact on the field. His production left some things to be desired last year, with just 50 catches for 688 yards and three touchdowns. But that wasn’t entirely his fault: he didn’t catch a single deep ball all season, despite getting open behind the defense in every game. The quarterbacks just couldn’t hit him deep. And that’ll need to change this offseason.