THOUSAND OAKS, Calif. – For a wide receiver who has made a living quickly getting from Point A to Point B on a football field, making connections hasn't been too difficult for DeSean Jackson.
In that vein, it didn't take him long to figure out how to get on the same page with quarterback Matthew Stafford, or connect the Rams with championship-caliber team's he played on previously.
In both instances, it comes down to knowing his role.
Having developed a reputation as one of the NFL's premiere deep threats during his 13-year career with a career average of 17.4 yards per reception, Jackson knows that if he continues to do what he does best, he'll get in sync with Stafford, whose arm talent should help Jackson continue making the big plays he's accustomed to. Last season, Stafford tied with the Browns' Baker Mayfield and the Texans' Deshaun Watson for for the sixth-highest average intended air yards with 9.0.
"You continue to be great and just throw the ball, and I'm going to continue to be great and run past everybody and use my speed," Jackson said during a June 8 video conference. "I think that's the good niche about it. We're just going to be dialed in and continuously learn the plays, and once the season starts, we'll be in rare form."
Speaking of connectedness, Jackson witnessed it first hand on a broader scale in his first day with the team, noting the group's demeanor "from the top down" with people like head coach Sean McVay, cornerback Jalen Ramsey, defensive lineman Aaron Donald, quarterback Matthew Stafford, and wide receivers Robert Woods and Cooper Kupp setting the tone. It was one of the earliest signs to Jackson that the Rams have what it takes to compete for a championship this season.
"I've been on teams where certain individuals had contract issues or personal issues, or had a situation with a GM or a player, (but) when you come here, you don't feel none of that," Jackson said. "You feel like everyone's on the same page, everybody has one common goal, and all the personal stuff, outside of the football world, none of that stuff matters. When you come here, we're worried about football, we're having fun, we're going to get the most out of it and guys are fired up about coming into this building."
In some ways, it reminds Jackson of the team he first entered the NFL with.
The 2008 second-round pick out of Cal landed with the Eagles, which had veterans Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook and Brian Dawkins in their locker room. Dawkins had just completed his 12th season in Philadelphia, McNabb his ninth, Westbrook his sixth when Jackson arrived. The Eagles later advanced to the NFC Championship game that season.
"It was a certain persona those guys upheld," Jackson said. "The main guys on the team, the head coach was Andy Reid, they had a demeanor where, all these young guys, I don't care if you were a first-rounder or a big-time free agent, you knew when you stepped into that room or on that field there was certain guys you respected. And those guys you respected held accountability to every player, from top to bottom."
The ingredients are there for a potential Super Bowl run back home for Jackson, not to mention SoFi Stadium hosting Super Bowl 56. Between connecting with Stafford and the established culture, as well as the veterans he learned from as a young player, Jackson knows what it will take to make that happen.
"For me, it doesn't even really come down to the stats and the statistics anymore, man," Jackson said. "Because at the end of the day, I've accomplished a lot of great things. These last few years, I've been giving (it) my all to being a guy that's not a self guy, to being a guy that's about the team and really putting in on the line. Whatever it is I need to do, in addition to me still getting my plays and still scoring them long touchdowns, it can all be worked out. I'm just happy and excited, and hopefully my role, whatever my role is, I can do it to the best of my abilities."
Take a look at the best photos from the Los Angeles Rams' on field work during the 2021 offseason program.