- Dan Graziano, ESPN Staff Writer
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Another Sunday in Philadelphia means I'll get to see Sal Paolantonio again, which is always a pleasure. And speaking of Sal, he has a Philadelphia Eagles item up on our Sunday NFL Countdown page. Part of the problem the Eagles' offense is having, Sal says, is that top receiver DeSean Jackson hasn't been a big enough part of it. Everybody knows by now that Michael Vick is 1-4 in his last five starts, but Sal points out that, in those five games, Jackson has been targeted just 37 times and caught just 14 passes for 232 yards, one touchdown and four drops:
The reason is simple. Since the Eagles' last victory against a team with a winning record -- the earth-shattering comeback against the Giants on Dec. 19, 2010 -- opponents have figured out how to pretty much eliminate Jackson's deep threat, using double coverage or an umbrella zone, or both.
And the Eagles' coaching staff has not been very creative in finding ways to get Jackson open, often leaving him isolated and static on the edge, instead of trying to hide him in bunch formations or put him motion.
But that doesn't explain the drops. In the last five games, Jackson (who held out of training camp for a new contract that he didn't get) dropped 10 percent of the catchable balls thrown his way -- compared to just 7 percent in the first 11 games of 2010.
Jackson's inability to get deep and lack of production have had a debilitating trickle-down effect on Vick, who has no completions over 25 yards in the last two games. Last season, Vick led the league in completions of 40 yards or more.
And holding onto the ball longer waiting for Jackson to clear the secondary means Vick is taking more hits.
Want to fix Vick? Find ways to get Jackson open.
It's a good point. If Bruce Dickinson were brought in as a consultant to fix the Eagles' problems, Jackson would be the cowbell. The great thing about the Eagles' offense is the variety and the explosiveness of their various weapons. They can function and score by relying on people like Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy and of course Vick himself. But the downfield threat of Jackson when he's at his best is hard to find anywhere else, and there's no player in the league more dangerous when the ball is in his hands. I agree with Sal that it should be a top priority of the Eagles' coaching staff to get it there more.
Another Sunday in Philadelphia means I'll get to see Sal Paolantonio again, which is always a pleasure. And speaking of Sal, he has a Philadelphia Eagles item up on our Sunday NFL Countdown page.