The Philadelphia Eagles’ season thus far has been quite dramatic, featuring several story lines that range from questions about the play of quarterback Michael Vick to the play calling of offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. There have also been questions raised about the play of wide receiver DeSean Jackson, who hadn’t scored a single touchdown through the first three weeks but finally did this past Sunday with a 19-yard scoren that saw him use his eyes to get open on a corner route.
Some wondered why Jackson wasn’t making a significant amount of plays so far this season. But the truth is, he’s been more consistent, and he’s scored the same amount of touchdowns as he did last year at this point.
Jackson’s also had at least 77 yards in three of the four games thus far, with only the week 3 matchup against the Cardinals seeing him log 43 yards because of a different gameplan than usual from the Eagles’ coaches. Despite this, he’s on pace to set career highs according to Ryan Messick of the Philly Sports Report:
Jackson’s numbers through a quarter of the year have him on pace for 80 receptions, 1,332 yards and four touchdowns. The first two would be career highs by far, while the touchdown total would leave him 1.25 touchdowns shy of the average over his first four seasons. Jackson’s previous career highs in receptions and yards are 62 and 1,156, respectively.
On Sunday against the Giants he continued to add to his strong season with six receptions for 99 yards and a touchdown while showcasing his ability to manipulate defenders.
The Eagles were on the Giants’ 19-yard line on third down with nine yards to go when Jackson struck. Vick was in a shotgun set on and had split-backs — LeSean McCoy and Stanley Havili — to either to create 21 personnel. Jackson and teammate Jeremy Maclin were to his left in Twin sets to the wide side of the field. They were going to be running what some call a “Scissors” concept, where the outside receiver runs a post pattern and the slot receiver runs a corner or flag route underneath him against the Giants’ Man-Free (Cover 1).
After receiving the snap, Vick took a five-step drop followed by two hitch steps to climb the pocket and avoid the Giants’ edge rush. This bought him time to read the field and find Jackson, his intended target. Once Jackson got off the line of scrimmage, he took an inside release against cornerback Corey Webster, who was in trail position.
As Jackson ran down the field, he used his eyes to make it appear as though he was going to be running a post pattern. By doing this, safety Antrel Rolle and Webster looked back to the quarterback to locate the presumed pass.
However, they were both fooled. Jackson wasn’t going to be running a post route to effectively create a “Double Dino” (double posts) concept; instead, he was going to be breaking back to the outside to complete a corner route. Because the two defensive backs were ball watching, they lost sight of Jackson.
What also made this play happen was Maclin’s (actual) post route. He served as a clearout route runner for Jackson on this play, forcing the outside cornerback, who thought he had inside help from the safety, to run with him from a trail position. As a result, Jackson caught the ball in the open grass in the left corner of the end zone for a 19-yard touchdown.
The touchdown gave the Eagles a first half lead, and it would prove to be significant later in the game when the they squeaked by their division rival.
Jackson’s big catch was also his first touchdown of the season, and despite having critics, he’s been one of the Eagles most consistent performers this season. He’s on pace to set career highs in multiple categories, including receptions and receiving yards, and he’s living up to his contract — which few players do once they break the bank.