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What The 'Skins Can Expect With Rob Jackson, Jarvis Jenkins Returning

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Photo by Larry French/Getty Images.
Photo by Larry French/Getty Images.

Washington Redskins LB Rob Jackson and DE Jarvis Jenkins have been on lock-down for a month. Jackson popped one of his significant other’s painkillers to alleviate a toothache, and Jenkins stumbled on a GNC product with NFL non-compliant ingredients — at least that’s the “innocent victim” stories they told (and if we’ve learned anything in the last 15 years, it’s that athletes on PEDs have the credibility of a pathological liar). Truth or lies aside, the result was a failed drug test for both and a sentence, delivered by NFL warden Roger Goodell, of four weeks in the hole. As of last Sunday, their time was up, their penance had been paid, and both will be eligible to play next week against the Dallas Cowboys.

Jackson and Jenkins return to a defense that is ranked 31st in the NFL and has been the primary culprit in Washington’s horrific start. Robert Griffin III deserves a fair portion of blame — mainly for not living up to the unrealistic expectations he created — but the quarterback has absorbed much criticism better directed toward the other side of the ball. The ‘Skins defense struggled at times last year, but with Brian Orakpo back from injury and better overall talent, there’s no excuse for the disgusting tackling and hide-your-eyes secondary play that has plagued the unit for a month.

Reintroducing Jackson and Jenkins to this sieve of a defense offers hope for the seemingly hopeless, but it would be wise to temper your expectations. Jackson will slot in behind Orakpo on the depth chart and provide an extra pass rusher. He doesn’t possess the athleticism of Orakpo, but Jackson has far better hands — a fact that arguably makes him Orakpo’s equal as a defensive playmaker. That may be a sacrilegious statement inside the D.C. beltway and to any reader wearing a No. 98 ‘Skins jersey, but Jackson managed four interceptions last year, including a huge pick of Tony Romo in a division-clinching Week 17 win. Orakpo, now in his fifth season, is still looking for the first pick of his NFL career.

Jenkins, a 2011 second-round pick, remains an enigma. After a strong start to his rookie season, Jenkins tore an ACL in the preseason and was placed on IR. His comeback last season was thoroughly disappointing. Wearing a bulky knee brace, Jenkins lacked explosion and managed only 11 solo tackles and an eye-popping goose egg in the sack column — this despite playing 16 games. He followed up that uninspiring performance with this year’s PED violation and subsequent suspension. What will the ‘Skins get out of Jenkins this year? Oh, I don’t know … maybe a sack? Just one? I’m a dreamer.  

Jackson and Jenkins will provide the obvious: depth. Their presence should allow the defense to remain fresh and capable, warm bodies on an NFL roster should not be dismissed. From a talent perspective, though, they merely offer more of the same. ‘Skins fans have seen “the same” for four weeks, and it’s a sight not even the most devout can bear. What this defense needs more than depth are difference-makers — and difference-makers Jackson and Jenkins are not. That is unless they’ve reinvented themselves during their month off … through natural means, of course.