Should the Philadelphia Eagles Use DeSean Jackson as Punt Returner Against the New York Giants?

By Bryn Swartz

The Philadelphia Eagles entered this season without DeSean Jackson as their punt returner for the first time in since 2007, before he was in the NFL.

That’s because they had stud rookie Damaris Johnson, who, even though he went undrafted and played just three years at college, set the all-time NCAA record for all-purpose yardage.

Johnson was expected to make an immediate impact on punt returns. But he’s been a major disappointment through the first three games of his career.

He’s returned just six punts for 32 yards, an average of 5.33 yards per return. He hasn’t come remotely close to breaking off a big return. And he’s made a couple of rookie mistakes, catching the ball inside the 10-yard line, including one on the two that led to three extra points for the Baltimore Ravens.

If it were up to me, I’d be done with Johnson for at least a game or two. He’s shown nothing and veteran DeSean Jackson is still one of the most electrifying punt returns in the league.

In four seasons, Jackson has returned 116 punts for 1226 yards and four touchdowns, an average of 10.6 yards per return, plus 10 returns for 145 yards in five postseason games.

He’s been especially dominant against the division rival New York Giants, returning 12 punts for 278 yards and two touchdowns. That’s an insane average of 23.17 yards per return.

He returned a punt for a touchdown on Monday Night Football in 2009. He took back the walkoff in the Miracle at the New Meadowlands in 2010. And he took one back 51 yards (not for a touchdow) against the Giants last season.

The Eagles are facing a must-win game on Sunday night against the Giants. They can use an inexperienced, struggling rookie, or they can use a veteran with terrific awareness and game-changing abilities as a returner. They don’t need to use Jackson every game for the rest of the season.

But it’s worth a try for sure on Sunday.

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