Yes, they have leaders.
"I just wish I could say it was a lot more," Jackson said.
The coaches, at least some of them, feel the same way. Part of the void stemmed from injuries, losing corner DeAngelo Hall early in the season; losing London Fletcher to retirement. Ryan Clark was signed and serves as a leader in the secondary, but he hasn't filled the overall team leader hole left by Fletcher. It's a tough one to fill and it remains vacant.
Quarterback Robert Griffin III could step into that role, but after the past two years he must stay healthy and produce at a certain level. You don't have to be universally liked to be a leader; you have to be a guy who works hard, is respected and makes plays.
Despite what Jackson did before the players left on their bye week -- standing up and expressing his support of Griffin -- it's hard to imagine him morphing into a team leader. It's not his personality and that's OK; that's not why Washington signed him. The Redskins would be happy with a just-doing-your-job approach for as long as Jackson is in Washington. If he feels the urge to say something once in a while, that's fine. It came across well last week.
But the Redskins still need a player, or two, to be a strong leader. They know this. Someone who is in his prime, or close enough to it (like Fletcher was when he arrived) who will be here for a few years. Someone still capable of playing at a certain level. If Fletcher had not played at, or near, a Pro Bowl level, his message wouldn't have mattered as much.
"If we win, there's no talk about leadership," Redskins fullback Darrel Young said. "End of conversation. You win games, there's no talk about the locker room or no talk about what guys are doing and what needs to be fixed or who needs to be replaced. There's none of that. You eliminate all the noise and the distractions that come with football. Wins and losses. That's what you're judged on at the end of the day."
Had the Redskins won in Minnesota, and held onto a late lead, then the discussion this week would be on a chance to reach .500 and whether they could then contend for the playoffs. Instead, no one makes a play late in the game, especially on defense, and the talk centers around leadership.
They didn't lose that game because they lacked leaders. They lost it because they didn't have anyone make a play when needed. But when you're 3-6, and trying to establish a program, you need to have players who can help guide you through turbulent times, keeping players focused and heading off issues. They have a lot of good lieutenants. They need a general. That's not Jackson and that's fine. But give him credit for delivering the right message.