When DeSean Jackson joined the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2017, his arrival was supposed to give a significant boost to the offense, and to quarterback Jameis Winston. The idea was simple. Winston had a cannon arm, which was inaccurate at times, so go get a receiver who could catch up with those long passes.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work out that way, for the most part, and after the 2018 NFL season came to a close Jackson had played his last down for the Bucs.
It’s hard to tell definitively if Jackson harbors any hard feelings for the franchise he spent just two years with. While his exit from Tampa wasn’t the most dramatic, it also wasn’t without its share of theatrics.
His farewell Instagram post seems innocent enough. Until you remember the wide receiver owed over $10M in the upcoming 2019 NFL season hadn’t actually been released at the time of the post.
Not the spiciest of break-ups, but a divorce nonetheless. And those tend to leave some hard feelings behind them.
And in the two years since they separated, neither side run into the other.
All of that ends this Sunday, however, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers invade Jackson’s new home with the Los Angeles Rams looking to win what they plan on being their first of two games in SoFi Stadium this year.
Familiarity, and winning. These are the reasons Jackson signed with the Rams this past off-season in the first place.
“I could have went to other teams,” Jackson said this past March. “But my focus was really reuniting with Sean McVay.”
He wasn’t the only veteran the Rams added in the off-season either, shipping young quarterback Jared Goff to the Detroit Lions to bring in Matthew Stafford.
“He’s a beast,” Jackson said of his new quarterback. “His arm is out the world...I’m going to say, ‘I’m going to run far, you just throw it far’ and hopefully we can beat everybody.”
So far, Jackson hasn’t done much running for the Rams in 2021. In a Week 1 win against the Chicago Bears Jackson had two catches on two targets for 21 yards, and nothing else. In Week 2 against the Indianapolis Colts, Jackson was on the field for just three snaps, and wasn’t targeted once.
This wasn’t what everyone envisioned when Jackson signed with Los Angeles, and according to their head coach, it isn’t something that will continue for much longer.
“I’ve got to figure out a better way of getting him involved in the rotation,” McVay said on Monday, according to Greg Beacham of the Associated Press.
Music to Jackson’s ears who admitted to being frustrated when he spoke with Gary Klein of the L.A. Times on Thursday.
“I was a little frustrated,” said Jackson. “I mean being a playmaker and being someone who’s had a lot of success in this league, I just want to do what they brought me here to do which is help the team win.”
It’s hard to imagine a player who is in the ‘focused on winning’ (read: near retirement without a championship) portion of his career, watching his former team win one this February couldn’t have been easy.
“I’ve been around some great teams...and done some special things,” Jackson said back in March. “My first year...we actually made it to the NFC Conference Championship Game. One game away from the Super Bowl...”
Jackson has plenty of playoff experience. He’s played in seven postseason games in all. Even won two of them in that rookie season he talked about in that quote. And has lost five straight since.
So winning, especially in the postseason, is something that’s been on his mind lately. And having been born in Long Beach, California, he’s also thinking about winning with his local team, for a community he calls his own.
“Especially with the Super Bowl being here this year...I mean, I don’t want to get too excited and talk about any of that stuff,” Jackson said. “But...I’m going to work my hardest...to bring something special to the city...”
I don’t know how much everyone really puts stock into historic performances against teams. After all, it’s not like the logo or team name can defend or score, right?
For what it’s worth, Jackson has played against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers three times. Once with Washington, and twice with the Eagles.
In those three games, he caught a combined 11 passes for 100-yards exactly and has two touchdowns against the Bucs. Both of his scoring catches came in one game.
If he can get two on Sunday against this Buccaneers' defense, it’ll go a long way towards helping his Rams win, and get Jackson going for the first time this year.