It was early and it was all very new and veterans like Jackson were trying to figure out what their head coach was all about. Curiosity turned to frustration when Jackson found himself in an unsettling position.
“There were times when I was going with the threes, times when I was going with the twos, things like that,” said Jackson in a one-on-one conversation with Birds 24/7. “There was a point where I went into Chip Kelly’s office and talked to him face-to-face to see what was going on with that.”
Kelly told Jackson what he has stated publicly: that there is no depth chart, everyone on the roster will get a shot and nothing will be handed to you based purely on past performance.
“He just expects everyone to do things a certain way. He was asking everybody to do the same thing. For myself, I just had to really hear it from his mouth to get that rapport with him and be on the same page with him. When I went in there, he said he expects everybody to buy into the system and do everything the right way,” said Jackson. “And if there is any little thing a player doesn’t want to do, that’s his way of reacting to it. The best thing I did was go talk to him instead of just sitting back and being mad.”
Kelly requires all of his skill players to be familiar with everyone else’s position. It’s essential in what tight ends coach Ted Williams calls a “musical chairs” offense, where anyone can line up anywhere at any time. Jackson wasn’t as well-versed as Kelly wanted him to be.
“I think one of the biggest reasons was the offense was kind of new to myself and I never really had to learn every position in the offense [under Andy Reid],” said Jackson. “At the beginning of the process I didn’t know the full offense and I didn’t know every play, so that probably had to do with why I was moved to different teams and things like that. Now I am all-in on the offense and I’m very familiar with the whole system. It’s a good thing that I am able to learn that and know what everyone is doing instead of one person.”
The 26-year-old admits that it’s been an adjustment going from Reid to Kelly. Jackson, a six-year veteran, said he is being asked to do certain things that he hasn’t done since college. From all the sports science to the radical tempo change, there is a new-wave approach that can take some getting used to.
Despite the early bump in the road, there are some positive signs coming from the two-time Pro Bowler. He has been in attendance 30 of a possible 32 days so far. The team believes that is his highest attendance rate since joining the Eagles in 2008.
And he has reason to be motivated. As we’ve discussed in this space before, this is a virtual contract year for Jackson. His salary spikes into the $10 million range starting next season. If he wants to see that cash, he’ll have to not just adapt, but prove that he can still be an elite receiver in this league.
Jackson made it a point to say that the focus is on team goals, but allowed, “I definitely do know that this is a huge year for myself, and my teammates.”
As for that temporary demotion?
“Now I’m with the right group and everything is good and there’s never been no problems. I just had to get a feel for [Kelly] and know what he wants and what he expects me to do,” he said.
No Jay-Z For Now
We also asked Jackson about his split with agent Drew Rosenhaus.
“I’m not really speaking on that. I just think that’s a very personal issue,” said Jackson. “[As far as] Jay-Z and Roc Nation and all that other stuff, I’m really not entertaining any of that right now. I’m just focused on having a great season and the time is right I’ll be picking another agent. Right now is not the right time for that.”
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