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Tuesday, October 12, 2010
Is Kolb holding DeSean Jackson back?

By Dan Graziano
ESPN.com

Ashley Fox of the Philadelphia Inquirer, co-author of the newspaper's epic "The Deciders" series, has turned her attention to Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Her premise is that Kevin Kolb's inexperience is contributing to poor numbers for one of the league's most explosive players:

"Kolb simply doesn't have the experience or the patience to wait for Jackson to create downfield," writes Fox. "It is understandable. Kolb is not as mobile as [Michael] Vick and certainly at this point in his young career doesn't have the vision that Vick does. So he sees Jackson blanketed, then turns and looks for Option No. 2 and Option No. 3. After that, there isn't time to go back to Option No. 1."

With Vick in the lineup, Jackson has caught 14 of the 23 passes thrown his way and averages 23.1 yards per catch. With Kolb, Jackson has caught four of the 13 passes in his direction for 9.5 yards per catch. Fox looks at these numbers and concludes that Jackson's lost without Vick.

I'm not sure we have enough of a sample to make that declaration at this point in the season since Kolb has only played one full game. I agree that Vick's ability to extend plays gives Jackson a better chance to come free, but it's not like Donovan McNabb was Vick-like last season when he and Jackson connected on a regular basis. And in two starts last season for the Eagles (as long as we're using small sample settings), Kolb completed 10 passes to Jackson for 250 yards and two touchdowns. That appears to be exactly 25 yards per catch.

"The last couple of ball games our opponents are doing almost everything in their power to take DeSean away, and even a little bit more last week [against Washington]," Marty Mornhinweg said. "These are things that Jerry Rice saw, and you've got to deal with them, and it's my responsibility. You saw we moved DeSean basically all over. We've got to continue that, because people are really going uncommonly out of the way to make sure they get a jam on him, to make sure he doesn't get a free release, to make sure he's doubled."

If Kolb starts against the Atlanta Falcons -- and I'd be surprised if he doesn't -- you'll see him make Jackson more of a priority. But let's not put all of this at his feet. I seem to recall Jackson struggling to do anything against the Dallas Cowboys in three games last season when McNabb was starting.

He's an unbelievable playmaker, but teams have showed that he can be taken out of a game. It will be up to him to beat some of these jams and double teams at some point. Players such as Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald see that type of coverage on a weekly basis. It's a sign of respect as a wide receiver.

And Jackson doesn't have time to wait around for Vick.