The term “fly, Eagles, fly” never really meant anything until the world first saw the Philadelphia Eagles‘ second round pick DeSean Jackson take the field in 2008 and turn on the after burners.
His 4.35 second 40-yard dash at the NFL combine was surely impressive, but it did not prepare anybody for what they would first witness in live game action. In Week 1 2008, against the St. Louis Rams, Jackson first broke loose down the sideline and to use Randy Moss‘ favorite term, “took the top off the defense.”
Although Jackson’s first two games of his career would be the best of his rookie season (106 yards and 110 yards respectively), the wide-out followed up his rookie campaign with a fantastic sophomore season.
In 2009, Jackson tallied 1,156 yards and 9 touchdowns on only 62 receptions. The most impressive statistic being that 5 out of his 9 touchdowns came on catches of over 50 yards a piece, establishing himself as one of the biggest deep ball threats in the entire NFL.
While Jackson was still able to show his incredible break-away speed on several occasions in 2010 and 2011, the star seemed to have tapered off in his relevance and his production. Jackson totaled a respectable 1,056 yards and 6 touchdowns in 2010 before dropping off to a measly 961 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2011.
Not only are these numbers less than impressive for a former break-out superstar, but the consistent depletion in production is what is truly worrisome.
There are always reasons and excuses for a player not living up to his expectations.
Starting with Jackson’s questionable character issues, when he would seemingly give up on the team when the ball was not being thrown his way, and ending with his on-going contract dispute, where he admitted to avoiding going over the middle of the field so he did not get hurt and jeopardize his looming payday.
Well through it all, during the 2012 off-season, Jackson got his way and got his money. The Eagles signed the wide receiver to a five-year deal reportedly worth $51 million.
And in my eyes, it seems as if the money and the commitment is just what Jackson needed to turn the corner. Although he has not made it into the end-zone yet, over his first two games in 2012 Jackson has racked up 191 yards on 11 catches. Obviously these are not incredible numbers by any means, but it is always the little things that show promise.
Jackson is making catches on a plethora of routes instead of just relying on his one break-away 50 yard touchdown catch every couple of weeks. He is willingly catching the curls, the deep outs, and most notably the over-the-middle slants that he so much avoided just last year.
But most importantly, Jackson is avoiding yapping to the media and making his infamous bone-headed plays (i.e. throwing the ball away at the one-yard-line in an attempt to celebrate a would-be touchdown).
Of course he is still found jawing at corner backs and displaying his own enthusiastic first down signals after big catches, but that’s just DeSean being DeSean.
I am really expecting the controversial wide-out to do big things this year. Now that the Eagles are off to a 2-0 start and the man has got his money, it is time for the speedster to show off what he does best.
Just put on that jet-pack DeSean, and “fly, Eagles, fly”.