Wake-Up Call: DeSean Feels He Can Do Even More

Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson (10) returns a punt return against the Detroit Lions during the fourth quarter of the Snow Bowl

In his first season playing for Chip Kelly, DeSean Jackson shattered his previous career highs in a number of categories.

His 82 catches were 20 more than he’d ever had before. His 1,332 yards were 176 more than he had in his breakout year in  2009. Jackson also matched a career high with nine receiving touchdowns.

To put his numbers into perspective, consider that in the last five years only five receivers have put together seasons of 80+ catches, 16.0 yards per catch and nine touchdowns: Calvin Johnson (twice), Josh Gordon (2013), Jackson (2013), Victor Cruz (2011) and Miles Austin (2009).

Yet there’s a feeling from Jackson that he can do a lot more.

“Being the type of receiver I am, I honestly feel like I’m always open. I can always get open. There’s not nobody that can stop me. That’s just the confidence I have in myself,” Jackson said at his locker last week.

“Regardless of how much success I did have, I still felt certain times that I could have been utilized more to be able to be put in positions where I could help my team win games. I think my energy and my excitement alone… to just help my team at any given time, give ‘em that momentum to go out there and continue to just put up numbers, put up scores, just everything to help my team win games. So at times I definitely do feel like I could have been used just to help pump my team up and do things out there to just help us win games.”

To be clear, Jackson was asked a specific question about whether he feels he could have been used even more.

Looking at the numbers, there’s a case to be made that he should see an even bigger role going forward. Seventeen receivers had at least 1,100 yards receiving last season. None did so on fewer targets than Jackson (126). In the playoff loss to the Saints, he did not have a reception until late in the third quarter.

Jackson saw a lot of man coverage all season long, although teams will still use safeties to help over the top.

“Dealing with Jerry Rice and talking to him as a mentor, he’s always told me, ‘Anyone can beat one-on-one coverage. But once you’re able to beat double coverage and triple coverage, that’s when you know you’ve graduated to a different level of player,’ ” Jackson said. “So I just have to understand that and just go out there and keep my cool and not get frustrated, know in the game a play will come to me. I’ve just gotta make the most of my opportunities.”

Jackson did that in 2013, catching 65 percent of the balls that came his way (a career best).

Contract issues aside, he is hoping for even more in 2014.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Ten things we learned about Kelly in his first year as the Eagles’ head coach.

Will Nate Allen be back with the Eagles? Tim and I discuss.

What they’re saying: Peter King thinks the Eagles have separated themselves from the pack in the NFC East.

Mel Kiper Jr. talks draft, mocks a wide receiver to the Eagles.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jimmy Kempski of Philly.com identifies his 15 favorite Kelly quotes:

But Kelly wasn’t just a great coach in his first season with the team. He was also a very entertaining quote. In the past, Andy Reid was very forthcoming with injury updates, but his press conferences were about as exciting as watching paint dry. Kelly has been the complete opposite. He refused to talk about injuries, but makes up for it in spades by answering questions with personality and humor.

Zach Berman of The Inquirer catches up with Earl Thomas:

Judging from Thomas’ Twitter feed, Eagles fans do not need to be reminded.

“A lot of people from Philly are like, ‘Oh, my God! Every time we see him, he could be in our uniform,’ or if they see me in the Pro Bowl or something, they say he’s a Pro Bowler,” Thomas said.

COMING UP

We’ll take a look at more Eagles free agents.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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