Last season there was an aura of tension around DeSean Jackson. He wasn’t happy. His coaches felt it, his teammates felt it, the media felt it. You approached him knowing his reaction would be to furrow his brow and quickly identify the nearest exit.
This uneasiness floated around the team for the entire year, and was one element in a recipe for what turned out to be a disaster of a season.
Michael Vick went out of his way on the final day of training camp to praise Jackson for his dedication, commitment and efforts to become a leader this offseason. There has been a shift in attitude, which his teammates have seem to have taken notice of.
“He’s different towards me,” said Jason Kelce. “I don’t know if that has anything to do with the contract or whatever. I think all around he’s just in a better mood.
“We know each other a lot better now so it’s much more of a friendship rather than a co-worker type of relationship like it was last year.”
Jackson, long consumed with his financial situation, finally got mental relief when he signed a five-year, $51 million deal back in March. The effects were immediate. Jackson was all smiles for the first time in months – at least publicly – as his defenses began to soften. He arrived at training camp early, and spent several minutes engaged with reporters instead of feeling the need to creep in from the back door.
“He seems more focused. He’s going out and handling his business,” said LeSean McCoy, who also received a handsome pay day this offseason. (Vick praised McCoy as well Tuesday.) “He’s playing well. He seems like he has no distractions, and he doesn’t; I’m looking forward to seeing what type of year he has – I know it’s a big one.
Added Kelce: “I would say for sure he’s been more vocal this year – not in a bad way, in a good way.”
A more focused Jackson should pay instant dividends when it comes to not just chemistry, but production. Jackson finished with 58 catches for 961 yards last season. He also had 10 drops. As Sheil lays out, if he cuts that number in half you’re talking about 63 receptions for over 1,000 yards.
A major reason why the Eagles decided to lock up their own this offseason was to create a much more positive, winning environment. It is early and there is certainly no guarantee that Jackson will remain satiated. But so far, so good.
“It’s a big year. The team did a good job of signing us to a nice contract,” said McCoy. “They’re dependent on us. It’s only right for us to come in as professionals, take care of our job, be leaders and lead this team to what we all want — a Super Bowl.”
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