'We got some dope stuff' — Eagles finding new ways to use DeSean

'We got some dope stuff' — Eagles finding new ways to use DeSean

DeSean Jackson is one of the greatest deep threats in NFL history.

He’s also much more.

Jackson has 97 career receptions of at least 30 yards, third-most in the NFL over the last 20 years (nine fewer than Randy Moss, one fewer than Steve Smith).

He also has 491 OTHER catches, most of which never made anybody’s highlight reel, and 303 of them went for first downs.

So more than 60 percent of Jackson’s shorter catches have gone for first downs.

That’s an incredibly revealing statistic about DeSean’s short game.

We all know he can beat you catching bombs. But he can beat you in a lot of other ways as well.

I think that’s what I’ve been most pleasantly surprised by since he’s been here,” Carson Wentz said. “His ability to do things with the ball after the catch, underneath routes, crossing routes. (He’s) a lot better route runner than people give him credit for.

Jackson is back with the Eagles after five years in exile, and the Eagles have been working a ton during training camp on finding ways to get Jackson the ball in ways other than chucking it deep.

Shoot man, whatever they call on me to do, that’s what I’m here for,” Jackson said. “I don’t like to say I can only be one-dimensional. Whatever the offense calls for me to do, that’s what I’m here to do. I’ve always felt I’ve been good at it, but you can only be as good as your opportunities present.

Jackson has led the NFL in yards per catch four times, including three of the last five years.  His 17.4 career average is highest in the league over the last 35 years.

But put him with Doug Pederson, who has proven himself to be one of the NFL’s most inventive and creative play callers and play designers, and Wentz, who has the fourth-highest passer rating in the NFL over the last two years, and it’s scary to imagine what's possible here.

Even at 32 years old.

We got some dope stuff in this year,” Jackson said. “It’s going to be great. The kind of stuff (Pederson) has up his sleeve for this offense, man, it’s unbelievable.

After three years with the Redskins and two with the Buccaneers, Jackson has been rejuvenated by his return to the Eagles, where he starred from 2008 through 2013. 

He’s enjoying an incredible training camp, and his connection with Wentz seems to grow every day.

How will all this translate into numbers? It’s tough to tell, since the Eagles have so many weapons in the passing game. He might only catch 40 passes. But he could make a huge impact on this team with just 40 catches.

DeSean is a complete player,” offensive coordinator Mike Groh said. “He can do anything that he wants. As a coach, it's really exciting because you can just say, ‘Hey, can you run this route or can you do it like this,’ and you can just tell him and he can do it. So from a coaching standpoint that makes it really easy, and we're just trying to move him around and have him do a bunch of different things because he is such a weapon.

One thing to keep an eye on is how Jackson is able to physically handle running the entire playbook.

Crosses, slants, quick outs and other shorter routes mean more defenders in the area, and that means more contact, and for a 32-year-old wide receiver that’s something to keep an eye out.

But Jackson said he's good with whatever Pederson comes up with.

Honestly, I don’t try to get too caught up in how I’m utilized or what I’m doing,” Jackson said. “Whenever I’m out there on the field, whenever it’s time for my number is called, that’s how I look at it. Be a professional and you just got to do what your job asks you to do, be the best at that on that play.

Jackson’s 29 career touchdown catches of 50 yards or more rank second in NFL history, seven fewer than Jerry Rice (and tied with Randy Moss).

That means he’s caught a touchdown pass of 50 yards or more every 5.3 games over his 11-year career.

But as the Eagles are planning to emphasize, there’s much more to his game.

Everyone just thinks he’s a deep threat,” Wentz said. “He creates separation on a lot of different routes, so he’ll be a game changer and really dynamic playmaker for us.

And of course the shorter the pass, the higher-percentage play it is. 

If Wentz sees a defensive matchup that Jackson can exploit, the plan is to get the ball in his hands quickly and with a high-percentage throw and let Jackson do the rest with his world-class speed.

Let Jackson have the last word, in his inimitable way: 

“If that’s what the analytics say, then, s--t, bro,” he said. “I don’t get caught up in that.”

This is going to be really fun.

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Eagles promote WR Robert Davis from practice squad, place Alshon Jeffery on IR

Eagles promote WR Robert Davis from practice squad, place Alshon Jeffery on IR

The Eagles on Thursday morning officially placed Alshon Jeffery (foot) on Injured Reserve, ending his season. 

We already knew that was happening. 

It is a Lisfranc injury for Jeffery, sources tell NBC10's John Clark. Surgery is being considered and it is a long recovery.

The Eagles brought up wide receiver Robert Davis from the practice squad. He was one of three receivers on the practice squad the Eagles had to choose from. 

Davis, 24, signed to the Eagles’ practice squad back on Oct. 7, shortly after he was released by the Redskins. 

Davis is a 6-foot-3, 210-pound former sixth-round pick out of Georgia State in 2017. He played in just one game as a rookie and broke his leg before the 2018 season. He returned to the Redskins in 2019 but played in just three games and caught his only NFL pass for 11 yards. 

At Georgia State for four full seasons, Davis caught 222 passes for 3,391 yards and 17 touchdowns, while averaging 15.3 yards per catch. 

Immediately filling the spot left by Davis on the practice squad is receiver Deontay Burnett. The Eagles added him on Thursday morning to the practice squad, so they still have three receivers on the practice squad. They still have Marken Michel and Marcus Green. 

The Eagles are light at receiver heading into this weekend’s matchup against the Redskins. They have three healthy receivers (Davis, J.J. Arcega-Whiteside and Greg Ward) and Nelson Agholor’s status is still in question. It’s possible the Eagles call up another receiver from the practice squad later this week.

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Zach Ertz was determined not to let Miami disaster happen again

Zach Ertz was determined not to let Miami disaster happen again

Zach Ertz didn’t hesitate to say after the Miami disaster that it was one of the worst games of his career.

And he promised it wouldn’t happen again.

A week after the nightmarish loss to the Dolphins, the Eagles rebounded, and so did Ertz.

He followed one of the worst games of his seven-year career with a typical Zach Ertz game.

“It was tough last week physically and mentally,” Ertz said. “It was probably the worst game that I’ve played in a long time. And so being able to just come out … and rebound and have the coaches and the guys kind of trust in me and never lose faith, obviously it means a lot to me.”

Ertz scored the tying touchdown against the Giants with a couple minutes left in regulation and the winning touchdown five minutes into overtime, and the Eagles turned a potential second straight catastrophe against a two-win team into a dramatic win.

And Ertz became the first Eagle to score the tying and go-ahead TDs in the fourth quarter or later since Brian Westbrook against the Redskins in 2007.

“It was kind of the message after the (Dolphins) game that our best players and our leaders – we have to be playing our best at this point in the year,” said Ertz, a lock for his third straight Pro Bowl this year. “A lot of guys took it hard last week. Obviously the performance wasn’t us, me in particular. But it definitely feels great to find a way to win and be a big part of it. It was definitely fun out there.”

The Eagles kept their improbable playoff hopes alive with that 23-17 overtime win Monday night.

And they did it without most of the skill players they began the season with. Among the missing were DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Jordan Howard, Corey Clement and Darren Sproles.

And with an assortment of late-season pickups and practice squad alumni and Ertz shifting from position to position, they rallied back from 14 points down in the third quarter to win a game they had to win.

Ertz played everywhere. Almost everywhere.

“I think every spot at the skill position besides running back,” he said. “I don’t think I’ll ever line up there. But I’ve been in this offense for four years now and I take a lot of pride in being able to help the guys line up. We just had to find a way and obviously with three receivers and losing Alshon early, it was tough. But Greg Ward, J.J (Arcega-Whiteside), Josh Perkins, Boston Scott, those are the guys that allowed us to make plays at the end of the game. Those guys are freakin’ studs and I’m so proud of all of them.”

And Ertz did his usual thing, with 9 catches for 91 yards and two TDs.

He has 42 catches in the last five games, the third-most in franchise history over a five-game span (behind two of his own streaks) and 10th-most in NFL history by a tight end in a five-game stretch.

He’s now up to 79 catches for 827 yards and five TDs and has 19 more catches than any other NFC tight end. 

He’s been consistently and routinely making big plays for this team for seven years and on Monday night, when his team desperately needed him, he showed up once again.

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