- Associated Press - Friday, September 30, 2011

PHILADELPHIA (AP) - It’s no secret DeSean Jackson makes the Eagles go. And lately, he hasn’t been going very far.

Neither have they.

Jackson, among the game’s most explosive wide receivers, has just four catches for 51 yards in the Eagles’ last two games and doesn’t have a reception longer than 17 yards since opening day.

As such, the new-look Eagles (1-2) have lost their last two games and head into Sunday’s date with the San Francisco 49ers (2-1) in last place in the NFC East.

For somebody who has 19 touchdowns of 30 yards or more since Opening Day of 2008, this has been an uncharacteristically quiet opening stretch for Jackson. Although he did have six catches for 102 yards against the Rams in Week 1, overall, Jackson ranks 62nd in the NFL with 10 catches this year, 57th with 153 yards and tied for 26th with just one touchdown.

Not what you’d expect from a two-time Pro Bowl pick and two-time 1,000-yard receiver.

“It’s football,” Jackson said. “I’m one of 11 players. They’re not always going to be calling my number, and I’ve just got to help out and do whatever I can to help my team win. You’ve just got to keep working hard, and hopefully it will get better.”

Michael Vick, who threw touchdown passes of 45, 61, 88 and 91 yards to Jackson last year, said teams are defending the Eagles differently than in the past. Opposing defenses are dropping a safety back so deep that it’s almost impossible to hit deep strikes to Jackson.

“Teams are playing so far down the field,” Vick said, “you can’t even see the free safety any more.”

And they’re doing this only against Jackson and the Eagles.

“During the week, when we watch film of these teams playing other teams, we don’t see them playing like this,” Jackson said. “It’s respect. I think a lot of defenses are not going to let us just run past them and do the things we’re great at doing.

“We’ve just got to find a way to make plays somehow, some way underneath, and if every team is going to be 35 yards back deep, we just have to throw underneath and do other things.”

That opens up the field for other players to catch the football on shorter routes, but that’s exactly what defenses want. The ball in somebody else’s hands.

“When a team does that to you, you have to be like a surgeon,” offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg said. “You have to play at a high level consistently, and then big plays will come naturally. You’ve got to surgically dissect them, especially when they’re playing you like that.”

Jackson was open on one deep route this year, but dropped what would have been an 84-yard score against the Rams.

He said if teams are covering the deep ball, he has to get the football and make plays in other ways.

“Over the past three years, if you watch film, there are other plays I’ve done other than just running deep,” he said. “I caught balls underneath and took them the distance, as well. It really doesn’t matter if it’s deep or short or whatever it is, I’m capable of doing it all.”

Jackson is unsigned beyond this year and protested his minimum-wage salary by holding out of the first 10 days of training camp. He said once he’s on the field, the contract situation is out of his mind.

“I’ve got to go out there and still make plays and be the receiver I’m capable of being,” he said. “Whether or not I have the ball in my hands or not, I feel like I already established myself in this league as one of the great receivers. I just have to go out there and just keep doing what I can do. Staying healthy is the biggest thing. As long as I can stay healthy _ regardless of where I’m playing _ I think I’ll be all right.

“As long as I’m healthy and we’re winning, regardless of my numbers, I think I’ll be very happy.”

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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