One of the recurring themes of the "Bill James Historical Baseball Abstract" books was that talent collection and team-building are not the same thing. James would always note that pennants were built with groups of skilled ballplayers but also detailed many instances where the stockpiling of ability didn't lead to wins because it wasn't paired with proper roster management.
This lesson looks as if it might apply to the Washington Redskins' recent signing of DeSean Jackson to a three-year, $24 million deal. Jackson's skills are undeniable, but when looking at the metrics and the impact this move could have on the burgundy-and-gold's offensive approach, it becomes clear that this deal improves Washington's talent level on offense but may not lead to more wins. Even with Jackson in the fold, this still looks like a last-place team in the NFC East.
The biggest reason for that: The other side of the ball still has a paucity of talent.
Jackson certainly upgrades Washington's passing attack, especially on downfield throws. According to ESPN Stats & Information, the Redskins tallied only 1,575 vertical passing yards last season (defined as aerials thrown 11 or more yards downfield), a total placing 27th in the NFL. Washington's top two vertical pass-catchers, Pierre Garcon and Aldrick Robinson, gained fewer combined yards (813) than Jackson had with the Eagles last season (905).
It isn't just a matter of quantity, as Jackson tallied a 13.5 vertical YPA (VYPA) that was tops among Philadelphia wide receivers. That total was also higher than any VYPA total posted by a Washington wideout last season (Leonard Hankerson led that group of players with a 10.5 VYPA).