DeSean Jackson should have never not been an Eagle. At least not for the reasons and on the terms that he did leave. It was a mistake. Thankfully, that mistake has been corrected. When the DeSean Jackson trade was first announced, the nostalgia immediately kicked in. The Miracle at the Meadowlands II, taking shots down the field to him on the first plays of games, the taunting of opposing players while scoring, I’ve missed it all. Now, D-Jax returns to us, but how does he fit?
Jackson’s Role in the Offense
DeSean Jackson might be older than the last time we saw him on the home team, but he still has the elite speed to get over the top of the defense. He proved that last season by leading the league with 18.9 YPR. Last season with Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston at QB, Jackson had five catches of 40+ yards. The entire Eagles team had nine. The Birds haven’t had a deep threat of his caliber since DeSean himself last wore Eagles green. In 2017, Torrey Smith was in that role. While Smith wasn’t the player for us that he was in Baltimore, he was still capable of keeping defensive backs in check and opening up the playbook for big gains like this one.
Imagine D-Jax running these deep routes and you can get a glimpse of the things Doug Pederson will be able to do with the offense. Last season without a true deep threat, the offense became stagnant at times. Having that over-the-top playmaker will open up the intermediate routes for guys like Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and Dallas Goedert.
Factoring in Wentz’s Ability to Extend Plays
In 2016 and 2017, we all clamored about Carson’s ability to extend plays. In 2018, Carson was coming off of the ACL injury as well as dealing with back issues. We saw Carson take more sacks and do less of his outside-the-pocket magic than we were used to. With another offseason to get his legs back under him and his back right, we should see more of the version of Wentz that made the most out of broken plays. DeSean Jackson is a perfect fit for that. When the play breaks down and defenses are forced to scramble Jackson should be able to freestyle his way down the field. Look out for a lot of Wentz-Jackson connections on these type of plays in 2019.
Jackson’s Usage and Consistency
For his career, Jackson averages 67.1 yards per game. He isn’t a weekly killer, but the threat of him is what really opens things up for an offense. Expect him to be quiet statistically more than occasionally, but he always has the ability to blow up for a couple long scores in a game if the defense loses track of him. His receptions per game have gone down by about half a reception since he departed the Eagles, and I wouldn’t expect that to jump up over four now. With that in mind, there should be no issue with fighting over receptions in this new offense. He’ll have his looks down the field, and knowing Pederson, he’ll set him up for some short catch and runs too.
Throughout his career, Jackson has never been much of a red zone threat. That shouldn’t matter much though in this offense. Alshon Jeffery and Zach Ertz receive the bulk of those targets. We can bet on Dallas Goedert being used more in those situations as well. Jackson is the home run threat and will be used to get the team into the red zone, while other personnel are there to help finish the drive off.
Jackson should fit like a glove in this offense and with his new QB. The elite speed will help open things up for everyone else. Doug Pederson was the apprentice of Andy Reid, and we all know how he liked to use Jackson and his other deep threats in both Philly and KC. While he may not jump out of your TV on a weekly basis, his skill set is what the Eagles offense has sorely lacked in the Carson Wentz-Doug Pederson era. With D-Jax back in the fold, expect a fun and high flying offense to return to Philly.