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By Spike Eskin
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) – Sometime, during the 2011 season, I gave up on DeSean Jackson. If the two games the Eagles have played so far this season are any indication, I made quite a mistake.
Jackson’s numbers have been good, 11 catches and 191 yards in the wins against the Browns and Ravens. But it’s more than his numbers, it’s how he’s gotten them.
The six foot tall (they say), 178 pound (yeah right) Jackson, has made tough catches for first downs, over the middle, and most impressively, a 48 yard bomb from Mike Vick along the sideline, where Jackson dove to catch the ball, well aware that he was going to get drilled afterward. This hasn’t just been Jackson running as far as he can, as fast as he can, hoping to blow by his defender.
These have been tough catches for tough yards, and I didn’t expect any of it.
During Jackson’s subpar 2011, we didn’t see any of those things. He admitted that his contract situation got into his head, and he was concerned he might get hurt.
But he had that new deal, and he was going to be a brand new DeSean. I didn’t buy any of it.
I thought the contract issue was a convenient excuse, and Jackson just wasn’t going to be the same after his second concussion within a year. That the DeSean we used to know disappeared when Dunta Robinson knocked Jackson into next week. I figured once he got hit hard again, he’d once again become averse to contact, and once again ineffective. “There’s always a contract to worry about in the NFL,” I thought. And once this deal was done, Jackson’s mind could just wander to the next one.
I was dead wrong. Jackson’s been a game-changer, and perhaps ready to be the best Jackson we’ve ever seen. That speed that can blow by a cornerback in a straight line down the field, can be even deadlier with space across the middle.
Of course we can’t be sure about next year, or next month, or even next week. He’s still going to showboat and perhaps do something silly after scoring a touchdown. And I still think he’d be better off staying away from Twitter now and then (coming from me, that’s saying something). Those same things are part of the personality that will make him great.
DeSean Jackson is making a believer out of me, and I’m excited to see just how good he can be.