Although DeSean Jackson recorded a career low in receptions in 2010, he was still a big threat for the Eagles. He averaged over 22 yards per reception, and continued to show the explosiveness we’ve seen out of him since he entered the league.
In a year where the Eagles are really going to make a push for a championship, Jackson will play a large factor in the team’s success. He’s one of many weapons on the Eagles offense, but he’s still the number one option.
Jackson has had a lot of success in his first three NFL seasons. Heading into 2011, there’s no reason Jackson shouldn’t progress even more. Here’s why.
5. Stronger Running Attack
Maybe I’m being ambitious, but I think the Eagles will try to run the ball more in 2011. I’m not saying that they’ll be a run-first type of team, but they have too much talent to overlook the run game completely.
LeSean McCoy has shown nothing but improvement since entering the league, and has had success running on the left side behind Jason Peters and Todd Herremans. The line shouldn’t be one dimensional anymore with the addition of Danny Watkins, and he should be able to make some things happen for McCoy on the right side.
The Eagles should have some nice options behind McCoy with Jerome Harrison, Dion Lewis, and Eldra Buckley being possibilities. Owen Schmitt or Stanley Havili should also be able to take some carries from the fullback position.
A successful run game will keep the defense honest and open things up for Jackson.
4. History Tends to Repeat Itself
In his first three seasons, Jackson recorded 912, 1,156, and 1,056 yards receiving. His number of receptions dropped a bit in 2010, but he recorded 62 catches in both of his first two seasons.
Jackson averaging 50-60 receptions a year with 1,000 yards isn’t overwhelming numbers for a number one receiver, but it’s very good for an offense that has as many options as the Eagles do.
He possesses the big play threat that no other receiver in the league does. He’s a threat to score just about every time he touches the ball and has shown how explosive he can be during his first three seasons.
Jackson is starting to enter his prime. He understands the offense and has a good quarterback who can get him the ball. There’s no reason why he shouldn’t go above and beyond what he’s done in the past.
3. More Comfort With Michael Vick
When Michael Vick came in last year, you could tell just how excited Jackson was to start playing with him. Jackson is one of the young guys who loved watching Vick early on during his NFL career. Now he gets to catch passes from him.
These two clicked during the season, but there were also a lot of questions about whether or not Jackson was getting the ball enough.
With Vick pretty much having a full season under his belt, he should be more comfortable with all the weapons he has on offense. One of the biggest weapons he has is Jackson, and it should be a guy he looks to a lot in 2011.
Vick has the big arm to work with Jackson’s down-field ability, but has also improved his short and mid-range throwing abilities. After seeing what Jackson could do in 2010, Vick knows he needs to get the ball in his hands and will do so often in 2011.
2. Jeremy Maclin’s Development
Outside of a good quarterback, the best thing a number one receiver can have is a solid number two playing alongside of him. Maclin has become Jackson’s partner in crime, and both are able to stretch the field and make plays.
Defenses can no longer focus strictly on Jackson as Maclin has really progressed over the last two seasons. If teams focus too much on Jackson, Maclin can step up. If they focus too much on Maclin, Jackson can step up.
It’s hard to take both receivers out of the equation, and with Maclin becoming even better, it only helps Jackson.
I expect Maclin to keep producing in his third season, much like Jackson did. Having that solid number two option takes pressure of Jackson as the number one receiver.
1. Contract Situation
The ongoing lockout this offseason has presented Eagles fans with plenty of questions. Will the Eagles sign Nnamdi Asomugha? What other free agents might they pursue? Who will they maintain and who will they let walk?
Another question surrounds Jackson’s contract. The Eagles don’t necessarily have to give Jackson a new deal, but there’s no denying that he deserves one.
We won’t know what the Eagles end up doing until a new Collective Bargaining Agreement is agreed upon, but Jackson will have something to prove either way.
If the Eagles snub Jackson, he’ll have to go out and prove yet again that he’s worth big money. He’s handled himself well throughout the whole situation, and would need to do the same if a new deal isn’t put on the table.
However, my gut tells me that the Eagles will work something out for him. The guy has put the team on his back in many situations and won football games for them. If he gets a new deal, the best way to say thank you is by continuing to put up big numbers.