What to expect: DeSean Jackson, Part 2
July, 23, 2014
By John Keim | ESPN.com
On Tuesday, I wrote Part 1 of what to expect from DeSean Jackson, based on watching every catch he made in 2013, as well as other pass attempts his way and other plays in which he wasn't involved. Here are the rest of my observations:
- Initially, I thought there was a big difference in big plays when Michael Vick threw him the ball compared to Nick Foles. Of his 25 catches from Vick, Jackson had 15 plays of 10 or more yards and nine of more than 20. Of his 57 catches from Foles and Matt Barkley, 34 resulted in 10 or more yards (two from Barkley) and 17 went 20 yards or more (all from Foles). In the end, 36 percent of his passes from Vick resulted in 20-plus gains compared to 29.6 from Foles. And the number of 10-plus plays is 60 percent from Vick and 59.6 from the others. Vick had a stronger arm, but Jackson still got the ball downfield with Foles.
- His presence clearly helps others. Against Oakland, the Eagles ran a bubble screen to LeSean McCoy to Jackson's side. Because Jackson was on that side, the corner on that side sank more while the safety was initially aligned deeper. Made for an easy catch-and-run for McCoy. Against Green Bay, Riley Cooper caught a touchdown pass on a deep post. But Jackson had run a similar route from the other side, occupying the safety and leaving Cooper one-on-one.
- Also in that Green Bay game, Jackson caught a 55-yard touchdown pass in which he was not the first option. But Foles did a nice job looking off the safety and working his way to Jackson.
- Be creative with how you use him. The Eagles did a good job of aligning him in various spots or creating movement for him on crosses by sending him in motion from out wide to inside the numbers, as they did against Arizona and corner Patrick Peterson. In that game, Jackson caught a wheel route out of the backfield for a 25-yard gain. Peterson was caught in traffic on the only ball Jackson caught against him. Peterson's patience at the line helped, as did his speed. But the creative use helped on this play; saw him run that route with success against Minnesota as well.
- In a 2012 game against Peterson, Jackson created separation where he looked like he would be running a go-route (no safety help), but came back and was open by five yards. Another time he caught a pass but it really stemmed from Vick throwing a bullet on time because Peterson was right there.
- Bigger corners can have trouble against him if they can't turn and run.
- In other games, some of Jackson's routes take time to develop. Against Minnesota he caught a 21-yard deep out in which Foles needed 3.4 seconds to throw. Another one, a deep crossing route, took 3.9 seconds. The Eagles' line held up well in these circumstances. If the Redskins' protection does not do the same, some of these routes will be useless.
- I liked how Jackson adapted when Vick or even Foles had to scramble. Works well with a mobile quarterback.
- A lot was made of Jackson's showing against New Orleans in the playoffs when he caught just three passes for 53 yards. Foles didn't see him get wide open on an inside release in man coverage; it would have been a huge gainer. Foles did work the safety well on another deep ball, keeping him away from Jackson and leading to a 40-yard pass interference penalty. So a mediocre numbers day could have been much better if the pass interference penalty counted in his yardage or if Foles had seen him break wide open. But the Saints also paid extra attention to him on other routes, leading to catches by tight end Zach Ertz.
- Of course, none of this takes into account any possible issues that might have arisen with him in the locker room. Jackson has his flaws. But the point is, Jackson is an excellent receiver who did good work in Philadelphia -- not just because of Chip Kelly's system, either.
AP Photo/Aaron M. SprecherDeSean Jackson was just slightly more productive downfield with Michael Vick than with Nick Foles.
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