“Kind of similar to what DeAnthony Thomas was doing at Oregon. He’s like a little brother to me. I actually talked to him,” Jackson told the Inquirer. “He was passing on information to me, like I’m going to be pumped up and psyched to be in that offense. It just keeps defenses off guard any time you go in motion, fake play-action, go down the field. There’s just so many things you can do.”
Jackson said Kelly told him to be prepared to have the ball in his hands more than usual, but other than that provided little detail.
Kelly has to be excited about working with a burner like Jackson. But can he really use him like he did Thomas?
They are similar in stature (Thomas is 5-9, 173; Jackson 5-10, 175) and both boast around 4.4 speed. Thomas, though, is often deployed as a running back for the Ducks and this past season, as a sophomore, rushed 92 times for 701 yards and 11 touchdowns. Jackson has had only 54 rushing attempts in five years in the NFL.
Thomas added 45 catches for 445 yards and five scores in 2012, and also returned a punt for a touchdown.
Many Eagles fans have been clamoring for Jackson to be featured more . Whether it be via a reverse, a wide receiver screen, a punt return — just get it to No. 10 and let him create. Kelly might very well agree with this concept.
Under Andy Reid, Jackson was being called on less and less. Last season the once-electric playmaker and author of the Miracle at the New Meadowlands had just one punt return for minus-3 yards. He rushed only three times for minus-7 yards. Granted, the offense was a mess, but Jackson’s 63.6 yards-per-game and 15.6 yards-per-catch were his lowest averages since his rookie season. It can still be said that Jackson was putting forth a solid campaign before sustaining broken ribs in Week 12 against the Panthers that cut his season short. Pro Football Focus credits him with just one drop, and his numbers would have been very respectable if he was able to play a full 16.
But the fact is that he wasn’t able to finish the year, and Jackson has now seen his numbers fall almost across the board in each of the last three seasons (his receiving TDs have gone from six to four to two since finding the end zone nine times in 2009). You can chalk that up to injuries, the contract squabble or questionable play-calling, but it is the reality. Can Kelly get the stock to rebound? Will the 26-year-old Jackson be able to stay healthy if his workload does increase like he is expecting it will?
It will be one of the many interesting subplots in Kelly’s first season.
If you want a taste of how Thomas was used at Oregon, check out the video below.
WHAT YOU MISSED
Here is the full list of assistant coaches, as well as some bios.
We rounded up reaction from around the web after Kelly’s staff was announced.
Trent Cole has reportedly been hampered by a hand injury for over a year.
Sheil looks at Billy Davis, the “Predator” and the 4-3 Under.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Mark Eckel looks at Eagles’ past to demonstrate how important Kelly’s assistants are to Eagles’ future.
Let’s go back a ways in Eagles history and look at just how crucial the coordinators can be to a head coach.
Start with Buddy Ryan, who had Wade Phillips and then Jeff Fisher run his defense that became one of the best and fiercest in the league. Yes, it was Ryan’s defense, but he needed Phillips and Fisher to make it work.
Offensively, Ryan never got the coordinator he wanted, or needed. He started with Ted Plumb, a man who saved his life when he choked on a pork chop, but whose offense Ryan once said “made him sick.’’ When Plumb was let go, he was replaced with Rich Kotite, who made everyone sick.
The Sporting News previews the radical changes ahead for the Eagles.
Don’t be shocked to see Michael Vick, cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha and defensive tackle Cullen Jenkins, among others, sent packing as the team continues to part ways with the poster players for their downward spiral—a trend that started with the in-season release of Pro Bowl defensive end Jason Babin. Those three are under contract but each underperformed and are on the downsides of their careers.
The only A-list free agent worth keeping is cornerback Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie, who also hasn’t fulfilled his potential since coming over in a trade with the Cardinals two years ago. Rodgers-Cromartie has tremendous talent and tools but constantly needs to be challenged and pushed, a responsibility that Kelly might not want to undertake in his first year.
Kelly addresses the media at 1:30. We’ll then have a chance to speak with his assistants for the first time.