DeSean No Longer ‘Fighting the System’

Nov 3, 2013; Oakland, CA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) celebrates after scoring a touchdown during the third quarter against the Oakland Raiders at O.co Coliseum. Mandatory Credit: Bob Stanton-USA TODAY SportsDeSean Jackson was bouncing with the music.

Practice was in the bubble Wednesday and the giant speakers were pumping in some sort of bad remix as the players shuffled to their appropriate spots for the next period. Jackson lightly made his way through the crowd, talking as he moved. He came across Roc Carmichael, and the two did one of those involved, synchronized hand slaps. A word, and then Jackson bounced on.

It’s little things like that.


He used to brood quite a bit. The mercurial receiver often took a knee away from the rest of the pack during practice. The look, intentional or otherwise, seemed to read: “No Visitors Welcome.” That was definitely the vibe at his locker stall as well. Jackson would have his back turned, hood up and scowl on when the media was nearby. Requests for a word would at times be met with a mumble and a dart towards the nearest exit.

The guard is down now, at least for the most part. The furrowed brow has receded, replaced by a more peaceful look. The bubble that kept him at a distance – from reporters and management and even his own teammates to a degree – has popped.

“He’s definitely -- on and off the field -- been a better teammate this year,” said Jason Kelce. “Just the way he carries himself. Much more involved with the entire offense, much more a part of the entire team.”

Jackson is engaged and, not coincidentally, on pace to crush his personal bests in every major statistical category. Scheme is definitely part of it. Chip Kelly has done a fine job of moving Jackson around to create confusion and mismatches. He’s dialing up short and intermediate routes; not falling into the trap of sending the speedster long on every play. Simply put, he is finding ways to get the ball in his playmaker’s hands.

Jackson (903) is currently the third-leading receiver in football behind A.J. Green (1,013) and Calvin Johnson (904). He has seven touchdowns on the season, needing just three more to establish a new high. He needs just 254 yards for a personal best in that department.

A lot of it is the way he is being deployed, yes, but there’s more to it than that.

“Honestly, man, I’ve just bought in. I just really bought in all across the board. Never really had done that in the past, maybe sometimes fighting the system,” Jackson acknowledged in a one-on-one with Birds 24/7. “So just trying new things that I think have really been paying off for me. Staying focused and doing all the extra little things , being a teammate, being a leader. Staying after practice later, working hard, little things that being young, never took the importance of doing that. It’s kind of been my focus.”

---

DeSean and his older brother, Byron, have a talk before every season to establish principles for the upcoming year. This year the focus was attitude.

“That regardless of what situation came up, he was going to have a great attitude about it,” Byron said.

That was tested almost immediately. There was a period during the offseason workouts when Kelly had Jackson running with the second and third teams. Frustrated, Jackson went into Kelly’s office looking for answers.

“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.”

It was a bold move for the rookie head coach to essentially demote the two-time Pro Bowler, but it worked. Jackson learned the entire offense (as opposed to just his own responsibilities) as Kelly asked. He attended 30 of 32 voluntary workouts. He became invested.

“His energy and enthusiasm in terms of coming back and working hard, getting us back on the right track, was really unbelievable,” said general manager Howie Roseman.

“His willingness to do whatever it takes, whether that was to help recruit free agents when free agency opened or talk to some of our younger players…He would do anything to help make this football team better.”

Added Kelly: “Since I've been here he's been an extremely hard worker.  He's been out there almost every single day practicing, barring one or two, and has put in his time, whether it's in the weight room, whether it's in the classroom or whether it's on the practice field.  So he's been fantastic since we've been here.  What's happening on the field in terms of on Sunday is a byproduct of what he's doing since I've been here off the field and I think he's doing a great job.”

Jackson, by the numbers (courtesy of the Eagles)

  • 17 of the team’s 50 passing plays of 20+ yards have been to Jackson
  • 5 of the team’s 13 passing TDs of 20+ yards have been to Jackson
  • Average distance of Jackson’s 39 career TDs is 43.5 yards
  • Since entering the league in 2008, his 12 TD catches of 50+ yards are the most in the NFL
  • The Eagles are 24-5 when Jackson catches a TD
  • Jackson needs 97 yards to tie for the franchise record (currently held by Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick) with his third 1,000+ yard receiving season

Jacksons’ best year to date was 2009, when he caught 62 balls for 1,156 yards and nine scores. This season he is on pace for 86 catches for 1,445 yards and 11 touchdowns. That’s quite a jump.

There's not one reason why, but rather a confluence of circumstances that has led to this kind of elevation. Part of it is related to his head coach, who found the proper way to motivate the receiver and the proper way to utilize him. Some of it is probably contract-related: Jackson can make nearly $30 million over the final three years of his deal, but none of it is guaranteed. If he wants to keep the monster checks rolling in, he has to ball. And some of it simply comes down to maturity. This is his sixth year in the league now. Natural instincts kick in to shepherd the younger players (He recently stated that if the home fans are going to boo to boo him, not the young guys) and to maximize the remaining time you have in the game. Jackson has put much of the Jaccpot ventures on the back burner, and is trying to just focus in on football.

“New coach, new system. Sixth year in the league, I’ve learned a lot," said Jackson, when asked why he is truly buying in for the first time. "Just felt the timing was perfect, so why not?”

His brother Byron is a video editor for Fox Sports. Part of his job is to cut up NFL sound bytes so even though he is on the left coast, he gets to see and hear his brother regularly. It's the way Byron is used to viewing his younger brother in a sense. Ever since DeSean was little Byron had a video camera on him, capturing his rise from a 12-year-old dynamo to an NFL Pro Bowler. (He recently released a documentary titled, “DeSean Jackson, The Making Of A Father’s Dream”). He continues to watch DeSean's development with great interest.

"I was cutting some sound bytes during training camp of him, and it's crazy watching it: my young little brother is a man," said Byron. "As I'm cutting it I'm like, 'Wow, I'm watching him mature right in front of my eyes.' "

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  • BirdGang

    I am glad to see him getting better and maturing. Now lets make this playoff push

  • Adam

    He came across Roc Carmichael, and the two did one of those involved, synchronized hand slaps.

    You’re so hip McManus. Whitest statement ever.

    Great piece! Love seeing DeSean come a long like this. For a guy who supposedly isn’t a number one receiver, the numbers sure look like it.

    • G_WallyHunter

      No one will chirp his attitude anymore, that’s for sure. Off-field attitude, not on-field, that’s part of the game..

    • jabostick

      Ha, I thought that too. Then I wondered when TMac referenced “some sort of bad remix” if he meant ‘bad bad’ or ‘good bad’.

      We kid because we love T-Mac! Fa shizzle(?)

      • SoCalEaglesFan

        Saying that without actually hearing the remix. It might have sucked. A lot of them do.

  • bthabarber$

    Best deep threat in the league, hands down!! And also finally proving he can do more than be a deep threat! Lets go birds!

    • James Hathaway

      I’d argue that Calvin Johnson, AJ Green, and Julio Jones are all better deep threats, due to size, speed and jump combinations. They are just utilized more in the short and long passing game, so their yards per catch will never be close to DJax. That being said, Djax is clearly one of the best deep ball receivers in the league, and is nearly impossible to cover when the running game is working.

  • G_WallyHunter

    “Jackson acknowledged in a one-on-one with Birds 24/7.”
    Damn, why I come to this wonderful place

    Are we sure we aren’t somehow scamming this site out of subscriptions? Should I shut my mouth about this?

    • Andy124

      Edit that out, quick!

    • Richard Colton

      Guess what you just earned Wally?

      • G_WallyHunter

        lol watch by seasons end there are fees to keep Sheil and Tim from going national, that’s the only way I’ll pay em

        What did I earn, a “shut your mouth about it!”

        • Will

          Because your trying to ruin a good thing. We come here cause it is free and everyone loves the Eagles. We get to interact with other fans and express how we feel about our Eagle’s Team. Plus all the fantastic input from Sheil & Tim.That’s why…

          • G_WallyHunter

            That’s what? Yes I understand that, interacting with other fans is a big part that’s fun, I’m surrounded by patriot fans and cowboys fans up here, nice to chat and exchange info with fans alike

        • Richard Colton

          hahaha. that I might pay.

          • G_WallyHunter

            I think we would all be more than willing to cough up a loonie or toonie a month to continue this content… I would

  • Will

    DeSean in his Favorite place the End Zone…

    • GEAGLE

      Thats just a pretty pic

    • mrparabolic

      That’s a much different reaction than LeSean got from the Raiders’ end zone crowd.

      • devCal

        ha.. minus the middle fingers and cuss words.

    • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

      i still cant belive certin talking heads were mad about desean walking backwards in the end zone and crossing his arms… like it was easily the tamest TD celbration desean has ever had!!! LOL… so many idiots.

  • Andy124

    Great post Tim. We appreciate it.

  • GEAGLE

    With a dailed in Desean and FOles and Ertz blossoming..when we add that big body, high volume possession WR, Desean is going to become very difficult to guard..

    He is having a fantastic season, yet is only on pace for 85 receptions, and that’s fine..he just isn’t that high volume guy..We need our BEASTMODE WR, and we need to keep Riley in philly…

    Im really getting anxious for this skins game. This is a tremendous opportunity to turn the corner. I think it has major major ramifications. If FOles can get the monkey off our back, win this home game with an impressive offensive outing, I believe it’s going to spring board us to a strong finish to a season that turns out better than any of so a thought….If he has a rough performance and we lose, it’s not the end of the world, but we will have blown a MAJOR opportunity…..I wish this opportunity didn’t come against the skins..we always have crazy games against them, they have beaten us plenty of times when they weren’t supposed to…then again, we never won in Oakland before the rainmaker ended the drought, so I’m hoping that it’s a NEW day with the rainmaker behind center….Hope to see Vinny Curry legally hit RG3 so hard that the NFL is forced to fine him lol..
    ….
    Surprised I didn’t turn on my computer and find a 500 post thread on Vick endorsing FOles as the franchise

    • anon

      seems like every chance we’ve had to turn the corner we’ve fallen short. Would love to sweep the sskins.

      • GEAGLE

        Absolutely…which is why I’m getting so crazed for this one…young teams on the upswing need a signature moment that propels them to the next level…the Niners were on the upswing, came to philly, got a big win that made them turn the corner…If that Moment comes THIS weekend, Chip and FOles are GODS who brought it much quicker than we thought

        • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

          I have to ask, the FOles intentional? If so, why the capitalized O?

          Honest question I am not trying to be the grammar police.

          • Will

            Auto something he was asked before….

          • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

            Its freaking annoying, TBH

          • GEAGLE

            Maybe you should be more tolerable to your fellow man, a tad less anal

          • A_T_G

            At some point, it would just be easier to fix it, right?

            Or, ATleast call him Nick?

          • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

            I can’t tell if ‘ATleast’ was an intentional typo or not lol

          • Richard Colton

            I prefer NIck.

          • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

            Anal would be nitpicking your punctuation or minor spelling mistakes. Sorry, but you post a lot and Foles is an important, oft mentioned player. A_T_G is right, it’d be just easier to fix it.

          • nicksaenz1

            awesome handle.

          • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

            Thanks, I was surprised the character limit allowed me to use it lol In over 6 months of using it, you are the first (I assume) to get the reference!

          • nicksaenz1

            Family guy. Can’t forget it.

    • OregonDucker

      I don’t see RG3′s jersey in Canton yet but Folsey is already there. And look whose jersey is beside his….

      • GEAGLE

        I’m sorry but I I think RG3 is a fraud!!! You couldn’t pay me enough to sign off on trading FOles for Rg3 straight up…I know that sounds crazy, but FOles is much more advanced as a pro style QB looking off safeties, knowing where to go with the ball….why would I care about RG3 freak athleticism when he is 23years old and has already had two horrible knee surgeries?
        ..
        I see FOles in I his 9th game stand at the podium after a hall of fame performance and give credit to everyone but himself..reporters asked him a question about how that was the first time we saw us really use our two TEs and how it was nice to see that we got our two good TEs involved..FOles interrupted the reporter…”We have 3 GREAT TE’s, don’t forget about James Casey”….that was honestly one of my favorite moments of the season..the kid just GETS IT!!!…

        I view RG3 as a ME guy, DRAMA QUEEN!! And for all the hype, he hasn’t developed enough as a pocket passer. last year when everyone was gaga over him, I warned that he won’t always be able to win games looking at only his first read and throwing the ball 20 times a game, and that we would need to see him develope the pro style part of his game..and he sill isn’t showing me much on a consistent basis, throwing to two really solid weapons garçon and reed….not only do I think he won’t have the career people expected! but i think his career will get cut short!!!

        • Mr. Wu

          your right…that does sound crazy lol

        • aub32

          You’re insane. RG3 covered up all types of flaws of a terible team yesterday. This year he couldn’t. Not to mention he has a coach that doesn’t even want him. He would be so dangerous in this system with these weapons. Do you really think Foles would have any better shot with Garcon and a bunch of nobodies. Morris is no McCoy.

          • anon

            I’d say yes and no. I think RGIII has better skill, but worse personality. I think Foles is less skilled but in a better system / better players and has a better head on his shoulders. I think RGIII and shanny don’t have a great relationship. I think he profited a lot last year from the read option which defenses weren’t equipped to cover. I think the fact that he’s coming back from an ACL isn’t doing him a lot of favors.

            That said i’m glad he’s losing. But to be fair both he and foles throw the ball the same amount.

        • Joe from Easton

          I watched high school film of Foles… He was lookin off safety’s when he was 17 years old. I mean it’s not a “you can’t teach that” thing like his size, but a 17 year old kid with the patience to go through progressions in 5A texas football is a pretty good base to build off of. Go Foles.

          • djack10

            same HS as Brees, right?

          • Joe from Easton

            Yea, Westlake in Texas.

      • Will

        HaHa… OregonDucker you really like that pic, lol, thing of pure beauty and Foles is just starting his career…I think Foles gets 8 TD’s & zero pics before long…also don’t see Eli, Romo, Luck, Brees, or Brady for that matter…

      • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

        i love this, and its not only this game, he has a BUNCH of NFL 1sts, check his stats… its crazy!! and you gotta think he also broke all of drew brees high school records lmfao…. no matter what you gotta admit there is something about nick…. if a team wants him, they better give up at least 2 1st rounders and then some!!!

    • Andy124

      I wonder if Cooper could be effective in the slot? Regardless, for this year, I want more bubble screens to Coop. I loved how he turned that one up and trucked a defender for 14 yards a few weeks ago. I think it was the first play of the game. Was that at Tampa? It was sweet. I want more of that.

      As for Vick saying Foles will be a franchise QB, I’m surprised how little play that’s gotten. I don’t have much of a reaction to it, but I figured most would have a lot to say about that.

      • GEAGLE

        Agreed on all points. not sure about coop, sometimes I look at him and I think he could move to the slot, other times I don’t see it???but we certainly have to get him the balls on bubbles and I love how FOles uses him…Riley isn’t going to blow anyone away with his routes and speed, so you are completely wasting his game if you don’t get him the ball on screens and don’t put it up there where he can go get it and make a play…coop has also been a stud for QBs on broken plays this year…If he can’t play the slot, then keep him on the Outside and get someone who can…sort of how the colts run their offense…Wayne is the number 1, TY hilton is really the number two, but he handles the slot and they weren’t using him in two WR sets even if he is really the number 2. Heyward bey starts outside! but he is really their number 3….

        Even if we get more potent weapons than Coop, I love coop for depth. WR get hurt, and while coop sits the bench waiting for his time! he will play like a beast on ST

      • Eagles4Life

        Cooper isn’t a slot guy, imo. I don’t see him coming out of those breaks in short areas quickly or crisp enough to man that spot.

        • Joe from Easton

          He definitely has the frame to catch quick slants and outs though. Tough for a defender to cover a well placed throw on a short slant when the receiver is 6’4″.

          • Eagles4Life

            Frame, yes. Skillset, probably not. If he were an asset there, they’d probably already find a way to use him in that manner. DBs can get into him early on routes, and in the slot you need someone that can get a release quickly.

          • Joe from Easton

            Agreed.

      • aub32

        I think Coop could be a decent #2 if we picked up a playmaking slot guy like a Cruz or a Tavon Austin.Those guys still don’t cost much, with Tavon being the exception. Look at how little Welker got.

        • Andy124

          Decent, but certainly upgradeable. I’m not sure his skill set would be effective playing out of the slot a lot (although, Chip could probably make it work!) but if we were to get a stud type outside, it would be nice if he could be effective inside so we’d be upgrading two positions at once.

    • nicksaenz1

      I don’t know if Vinny makes enough for that. Hopefully he hits him so hard legally the league wants to fine him but can’t…. When did Vick endorse BPF as the franchise?

  • Will

    I Do This for my City, I Do This for my Town…
    When you come into our stadium, we about to break your Balls….

    I love that attitude hope they carry it to the Linc next Sunday…

  • jjthree

    He’s getting all grown up. Barring injury he will be a superstar if he keeps that attitude. I watched Jerry Rice come to life out here and he’s still a star.

  • anon

    looks like dion jordan still isn’t getting in on run plays — glad we didn’t take him — would have had 2 curries on the team

    • G_WallyHunter

      Haha bye Fireland, the mike wallace move and move for Dion will surely get him fired this year, not that we should be talking about that joke of a franchise on here anyway…. $30 mil guaranteed LOL

      • nicksaenz1

        Don’t show that number to DeSean….he may get ideas

      • anon

        Credit to Chip for using DJax in different ways. Frankly they are the same player — i want to think Mike Wallace is better (maybe taller?) but DJax may be faster.

        They’ve really struggled to get him involved in the offense — Tannehill doesn’t have the arm to hit him with deep routes consistently and I don’t think Wallace is great at running routes (credit to CK for getting Djax to buy in there too).

        Frankly ireland could have hired Momah to be a field stretcher and saved $29.5 million.

  • Adam

    I’d like to know what the GB fans thought of losing to Philly. Wonder if they were salty or expected it with Wallace then Tolzein playing.

    • BlindChow

      They want to fire their defensive coordinator.

      • Adam

        Damn I wasn’t sure if you were joking so I googled it. I’m not sure what I think about that.

        • BlindChow

          Foles wreaks havoc across the league, leaving a trail of broken, unemployed defensive coordinators in his wake.

          • Adam

            Haha really though. But I guess I see their point, especially that final drive. Everybody and their dog knew what was coming. But it’s Dom god damn Capers.

    • anon

      From what i read on BGN / PFT they blamed it having their third string QB in, i’ll call it Matt Barkley syndrome.

  • Will

    Best Eagles – Skins Game…”The Body-bag Game”

  • Sig

    I am a Eagles fan living in MI and all my friends love the lions. I just sent a text out today informing them that D-Jack has 5 more plays of 20+ yards, 1 more reception, two less TD, and only 1 less yard then Calvin Johnson. I am not some crazy fan who is going to say that D-Jack is better, because he is not. I just am loving the things he is doing on the field, and it felt good to take a shot at my friends.

    Fly Eagles Fly

    • nicksaenz1

      Hope you didn’t mention that we didn’t have our bye week, yet…

      • anon

        Yeah but we also have other receivers with multiple TDs – i don’t think they do.

  • addicted2mula

    24-5 when he gets a Td sheesh

  • Eagles4Life

    http://www.nfl.com/news/story/0ap2000000281155/article/toxic-differential-favors-seattle-seahawks-philadelphia-eagles Let’s get ourselves in the playoffs and see how this can play itself out…

  • http://iKillRats.com/ Charlie Kelly

    Great article. Always knew desean was a special player. the only thing different is he is getting more passes his way, that came from buying into chip and learing the whole offense, but he is on pace for 20-30 more catches this year and that average hasnt changed.. lol…

  • d.j

    Nice to hear you ARE enjoying your experience as you should. How about next season you pick a weight up? pack on say 10 lbs of muscle? – one hit away from being a spectator.