Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson's Litmus Test: The 2012 Season

By Frank Benditt III

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson is a charismatic, polarizing NFL player.  After a lackluster 2011 season in which Jackson played with minimal effort because of his unhappiness with his contract situation, the Eagles signed DeSean to a long term deal in the off-season.  The five-year deal was reportedly worth $46.75 million, including $15 million in guarantees, with incentives that could increase the total value to $50.75 million.  With the money in hand, the 2012 season will be DeSean Jackson’s own personal litmus test (definition:  a critical indication of future success or failure).

Even though the Eagles paid DeSean, the question for 2012 still lingers:  will DeSean Jackson play hard and be productive enough to warrant his new contract?  DeSean Jackson is a unique talent.  Because of his blazing speed, Jackson is known for his big play capabilities.  Furthermore, Desean’s speed creates space on the field for other players to be targeted.  The key is for Jackson to play hard on every down.  Last season, the disgruntled Jackson took many plays off.

DeSean Jackson finished the 2011 season with 58 receptions, 961 yards and four touchdowns.  The two previous seasons, Jackson averaged 1106 yards with 7.5 touchdowns.  Jackson’s punt returning also suffered averaging just 6.7 yards per attempt.  Before the 2011 season, Jackson’s career average was 11.8 with four touchdowns.

DeSean Jackson’s Achilles heal has always been his attitude.  In college, DeSean was a big play maker at the University of California.  Jackson had first round talent but fell to the late second round (49th pick) in the 2008 draft.  His cockiness and brashness were question marks for NFL coaches.  Since entering the NFL, Jackson has shown an inclination for immaturity.  Up until this point, it seems DeSean has not truly embraced what it means to be a professional.

With Jackson’s off-season contract extension, 2012 will be the year for DeSean to mentally mature.  His play will ultimately decide his commitment to being the best.  Recently, Jackson decided to devote his time and invest his newly acquired money in a rap music label.  Is that a good indicator of maturity?  I do not know.  What I know is that I am not sure if DeSean can deliver each game, like most NFL star wide receivers do every week.


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