DeSean Jackson Continues To Be His Own Worst Enemy

Howard Smith-USA TODAY Sports

Statistically, some would argue that DeSean Jackson had one of his best days as an NFL wide receiver on Sunday. However, a senseless penalty committed by Jackson contributed in large part to the Philadelphia Eagles heart-breaking loss.

Playing in his sixth NFL season, the former second-round draft pick will turn 27 years old on Dec. 1. Surely, he is old enough and has been in the league long enough to be expected to have learned how to be a professional. Unfortunately for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, Jackson continues to be his own worst enemy.

At 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds, the diminutive wideout is physically challenged to compete in a league of giants. Many explain Jackson’s questionable behavior at times to be a necessary part of his game: continuously having to prove that he is tough enough at his size to battle in a game with much larger men. Others simply categorize him as a spoiled, selfish punk.

It’s difficult to argue with the latter argument based on his tumultuous history both in college and since arriving in Philly. At the University of California, Jackson was a two-time first-team All-American as a wide receiver and kick returner. However, he was punished in 2007 for violating team rules, and his reputation along with his size negatively affected his draft status upon declaring himself eligible after his junior year.

Since being selected by the Eagles as the seventh wideout in the 2008 draft, his moments of brilliance have been mixed with acts of foolishness. As electrifying as he can be with the ball in his hands, his mouth and his behavior have often gotten him in trouble.

His arrogance first reared its ugly head in Jackson’s second game as a pro against the Dallas Cowboys on Monday Night Football. On what would have been his first NFL touchdown, the rookie celebrated prematurely by flipping the ball behind him at the one-yard-line. Although untouched, and with no defenders in close proximity, Jackson’s showboating led to the play being challenged and overturned, placing the ball at the one.

Since that infamous play, Jackson has continued to break Eagle franchise records, and is clearly the Eagles most dangerous receiver and returner. He has, however, continued to have his share of problems including contract disputes, a missed team meeting leading to a benching, on-field altercations resulting in fines and a 2011 season that will go down as one of the most selfish in the history of Philadelphia sports.

Holding out of camp until the last possible day he could without losing a year towards free agency, a petulant Jackson tip-toed through 2011. After a half-hearted effort, Andy Reid benched Jackson against the New England Patriots for dropping two potential touchdown passes.

In an interview with ESPN’s Lisa Salters in 2012, Jackson admitted that he didn’t give his all in 2011 for fear of injury before signing a new contract.

“I let it get to me, even though I tried not to let it. I was trying to protect myself from getting hurt — now I’m just giving it all”, Jackson said.

Not the type of quote that inspires love amongst the hard-nosed Eagles’ fan base.

In Sunday’s game where Jackson saw uncustomary single coverage most of the day, the Eagles’ No. 1 receiver caught a career-high nine passes for 193 yards and two touchdowns.  He also had a 37-yard touchdown pass called back because of a penalty, dropped a potential 79-yard TD and caught another potential 69-yard touchdown out of bounds.

In what could have very easily been a 300-yard, four-touchdown game with a couple breaks, it’s his senseless penalty that will be what is remembered. Jackson, being pushed by a San Diego Chargers’ defender on Michael Vick’s late-game TD run, retaliated after the score that resulted in a dead ball, unsportsmanlike 15-yard penalty. It gave San Diego great field position following the ensuing kickoff which led to a Charger touchdown.

“We all have to learn to be professionals at all time and keep our cool,” Vick said after the game. “Sometimes, it’s tough to do, but we all have one common goal — to win the football game. Anything that doesn’t relate to that thinking is irrational thinking. So DeSean has to learn…”

As so much talent and skill continues to be obstructed by immaturity and unprofessionalism, Eagles fans can only hope that Vick is correct. Ultimately, the only thing keeping DeSean Jackson from greatness is DeSean Jackson.

Rubin Jeffreys is a Philadelphia Eagles  writer for Follow him on Twitter @Rubin Jeffreys, “Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google.

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  • Craig

    This article contains some bias. First off, if we’re gonna criticize Jackson for what he did in college, then he is a single leaf on a summer tree because players have been acting immature in college before and after DeSean. If I made a list it would be longer than this article. As far as the flipping the ball behind him before he actually scored, it was a stupid move on his part but hardly as egregious as people make it out to be. It didn’t result in a turnover, he admitted his mistake, and people moved on. Look at the antics players have always done after they’ve scored the TD that have resulted in penalties for their teams and Jackson’s hardly stand out.

    And I don’t blame him for tip toeing through the 2011 season. We get mad at him for that but if he would have gotten hurt, it would have been “Well that’s a shame. Who can we get to replace him in the off-season? Who’s in the draft? Who’s in FA?” Its the evil truth. Get mad a player for protecting himself and get rid of a player if he gets hurt. Even if Jackson acted like an angel during that season, if he had gotten hurt, people would be ready to look for who is next.

    Its pretty terrible that you downplay that Jackson had one of his best games as an Eagle by playing up what he did wrong more than what he did right. First off, you make it sound like that 37 yard TD was called off on a penalty on him. It was called back because Lane Johnson committed a penalty. Please tell the whole story. Second, the potential 79 yard TD pass wasn’t dropped, it was over thrown. If Jackson were 6-1 he would have caught it. Even the announcers knew that if that ball were thrown just a few inches shorter, Jackson would still have been running. Third, blaming him for catching a ball out of bounds? Really? Yes its Jackson’s fault that the ball wasn’t thrown more inside and had to try and tip toe to get his feet down. What was he thinking? He obviously should have used his Go-Go Gadget arms to pull the ball to him while he was running. Duh.

    And finally. The 15 yard unsportsmanlike was bad, but let’s look at what else had happened. Did not the Chargers FUMBLE the ball on the ensuing kickoff? And did not at least 6 DIFFERENT EAGLES have a chance to cover the ball and failed to do so and allowed the ball to go at least 15 yards more? Was that Jackson’s fault as well? Was it also Jackson’s fault that the defense allowed a ridiculous 539 yards of offense?

    This article really does a terrible job and puts the focus of the loss on Jackson like he has this uncontrollable selfish attitude and cares about no one but himself. Jackson on numerous occasions has shown to be not only a good teammate, but a good person in general. He was the first person to hug Reid after there first win since his son’s death, he has backed Vick on numerous occasions, he keeps the energy of the team going , he has run down the field numerous to be the first one to congratulate guys for scoring, last year despite how bad the team was playing, he was still on pace to set career highs in all his passing statistics prior to his injury. And let’s not forget off the field stuff he has done like taking that kid who was bullied on day to hang with him, dedicating his 2009-10 season to his dad who passed from pancreatic cancer. And so on. This article is poorly written and contains some really bad bias.

    • captaindandan

      I have to DISAGREE with you, sir. I thought the article was brilliant and carefully worded “the only person who can keep DeShaun Jackson from greatness is DeShaun Jackson.” It was clean, concise and articulate.
      So he looked back at this spoiled punk’s college antics–that’s fair.
      Apparently, Mr. D. Jackson STILL has NOT grown up.
      It’s a TEAM sport–there is no “i” in team.
      Grow up, play ball but play as hard as you can and act professionally.

      Oh, he DeShaun. Jets QB Mark “sackchez” Sanchez is here: He has a word for you B___

      ____URP !!!

    • captaindandan

      9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 …
      I have to DISAGREE with you, sir. I thought the article was brilliant
      and carefully worded “the only person who can keep DeShaun Jackson from
      greatness is DeShaun Jackson.” It was clean, concise and articulate.

      So he looked back at this “spoiled punk’s” college antics–that’s fair.
      As the legal folks will tell you it goes to habit, pattern and practice.

      Apparently, Mr. D. Jackson STILL has NOT grown up.

      It’s a TEAM sport–there is no “i” in team.

      Grow up, play ball but play as hard as you can and act professionally.

      There are a LOT of players who ‘weren’t good enough’ to get a starting role in the NFL. Don’t take your job so lightly.

      Oh, he DeShaun. Jets QB Mark “sackchez” Sanchez is here: He has a word for you B___

      ____URP !!!

      2 4 6 8 10 go

  • moonerjr

    What kills me is no ones talking about the blown opportunity we had on that fumble from the kick off where we were penalized by Deseans penalty!? How can an NFL player miss falling down on a ball? That kicker was scared and its inexcusable to give that fumble to the Chargers!!

    If we had covered that fumble game over! If Rick Lane didn’t get penalty game over with Deseans touchdown!!! Stop blaming Desean because his penalty gave us an opportunity for a turnover possession we blew!!!