Eagles Wake-Up Call: An Answer For DeSean
As we’ve seen over the years, DeSean Jackson is quite comfortable playing the role of antagonist. So it is no surprise that he egged on both Eagles defenders and fans alike after each big play he made Sunday.
And there were a couple of them — none bigger than the 81-yard touchdown catch and run late in the third quarter that knotted the game at 27-27. Using that world-class speed, he flew past Cary Williams into daylight and snared a pretty pass from Kirk Cousins in stride. At the end of the play, a taunt in the direction of Nate Allen, a mocking flap of the arms and a defiant kick of the air to cap his touchdown celebration.
“I’m glad I wasn’t the one trying to tackle him because as a defender, one, you’re already mad you gave up a score,” said Malcolm Jenkins. “But the entire environment and situation and context in which he celebrated is obviously a little smack in the face. But he had a great game, he’s a good player. That’s all you can say.”
After rising up to snare a drive-extending third-down catch earlier in the game, Jackson raised his hands above his head as a way of inviting the jeers from the crowd. It wasn’t just the fans that grew agitated.
“From the start, DeSean kind of getting the fans into it and them booing added fuel to our fire,” said Nolan Carroll. “And the kind of stuff he was doing on the field — talking a little bit of trash, kind of pointing to the sideline — that kind of made us mad a little bit.”
Jackson suited up despite a shoulder injury and ended with five catches for 117 yards and a score. There’s no question that his presence added an extra edge to the proceedings.
Perhaps it inspired members of the Eagles’ receiving corps as well. Coming into this game, the trio of Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Jeremy Maclin caught just 16 of the 41 balls thrown their way. On Sunday, they had 20 catches on 26 targets for 247 yards and three touchdowns.
Maclin led the charge with eight catches for 154 yards and a score.
“That he’s a big-time receiver,” said Chip Kelly, when asked what Maclin’s play to date tells him, “and that’s what we knew all along.”
Matthews is a central figure in the retooling effort underway at the receiver position here in Philadelphia. He was not drafted to replace Jackson, exactly, but was the first receiver in after Jackson was shoved out, and represents what the Eagles are looking for in a wideout when it comes to both measurables and approach.
Matthews struggled a bit in his first two games. He came in with three catches on eight targets and had multiple drops. He had eight catches for 59 yards and two touchdowns against Washington.
With the former primary receiver in town, the Eagles wideouts stood their ground.
“It just really depends on how people want to play you,” said Kelly. “We feel like we’re talented at the wideout spot. We feel like we’re talented at the tight end spot. We feel like we’re talented at the running back spot. Fortunately for us, if you can shut one phase of our game down, we’re not on the white board trying to draw up plays saying, ‘Hey, what do we do now?’ You’ve got to be able to have both and I think to have both and be balanced like we were, if you’re going to force us to throw it then we’ll take it.”
WHAT YOU MISSED
“A lot of guys had no legs.” Williams sounds off on Eagles training methods.
“I was just trying to protect my quarterback.” Jason Peters rises to the occasion.
Chris Baker, who put that hit on Foles, says he would do it all over again.
Check out Sheil’s observations from the Eagles’ wild win over Washington.
A big loss for the Eagles as Jason Kelce exits with an abdominal injury.
WHAT THEY’RE SAYING
Reuben Frank on the addition of Malcolm Jenkins:
That’s two weeks in a row Malcolm Jenkins has made a huge game-altering fourth-quarter interception. That’s Asante Samuel kind of stuff right there. Just coming up big at the biggest moment. His diving INT Sunday was a thing of beauty. I wasn’t sure about Jenkins when they signed him, but he has been everything the Eagles said. A leader and a big-time presence in a secondary that desperately needs what Jenkins brings.
Tommy Lawlor on Foles’ performance.
Foles took a major beating and kept getting back up. He made some great throws, but you can argue that the toughness he showed today was the most impressive part of his game. There were several times when I was sure he’d be out of there. He never missed a snap. Foles finally looked like the guy we watched last year.
Plenty to sink our teeth into. Kelly speaks at 1.