Rich Hofmann: Lack of action frustrates Eagles' DeSean Jackson

Michael Vick leads interference on second-quarter run by DeSean Jackson.
Michael Vick leads interference on second-quarter run by DeSean Jackson.
Posted: November 29, 2010

CHICAGO - DeSean Jackson sat there in his locker, with his head buried in his hands, for about 10 or 15 minutes after reporters were allowed into the Eagles' dressing room. Every once in a while, a teammate would walk over and lean down and say something, but the pose remained fixed. Nearby, a club official stood watch.

Around Jackson was the normal swirl: interviews conducted, showers taken, equipment packed, cliches ladled generously. It was only one game, after all, a 31-26 loss to the Chicago Bears. The Eagles did not play well but nothing about the day was any different from a half-dozen days in every NFL team's season. They lost. They will play again Thursday. The page will turn quickly.

Jackson, though, seemed unusually shaken by the defeat, transfixed by his disappointment.

Eventually, he sat up and began fiddling with headphones and his various digital devices. More players came over and shared a word or two. The locker room would eventually be closed before Jackson could be interviewed. But while reporters were still in the room, he and Michael Vick had a discussion from about 20 feet apart. It was hard to hear the exact words that they shared but Jackson's frustration was as unmistakable as Vick's attempt to calm things down.

The strain was visible, at least this day, when Jackson had only two catches for 26 yards. Whether it is something deep-seated and concerning, or just the emotions of a disappointing evening that were quick to bubble over and will be just as quick to recede, is an issue that obviously bears watching.

But everybody could see what Jackson was doing in that locker room, the statement he was making and the attention that he was drawing to himself without saying a word.

"We'll get him going again," Vick said. "He just can't get frustrated. He has to understand that there are professionals on the other side of the ball, too. And we have some pretty good coaches, some damn good coaches, and we're going to make it work."

Asked if he had spoken to Jackson, Vick said, "Yeah, I'll get the young guy together."

It is fair to say that this season is not playing out the way Jackson expected. In a year when he is playing for a new contract, he has 35 catches for 678 yards and five touchdowns. He could still explode here - exploding is what he does, after all - but he is on a pace to see all of his key numbers drop from last season.

This was another day when the opposition played with two deep safeties - and in this one, the Bears' safeties were sometimes playing just east of Skokie. It is nearly impossible for Jackson to run past people who play that deep - and running past people is what his game is all about. On days when Eagles quarterbacks - either Vick or Kevin Kolb - have been forced to work the underneath routes, Jackson's frustration has been palpable.

"They are trying to take away the deep ball and they have been doing a fairly good job of doing that," Vick said. "The thing we have to do is try to figure out what we can do and do it better."

As Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg is fond of saying, every game is different. Opponents all offer variations on their defensive approach. Vick still looks solid here, but not quite magical anymore. He is getting hit an awful lot these days. He says there is no lasting physical effect, but that is something that bears watching - along with the persistent problems in the red zone.

Overriding all of that, though, was the picture of the brooding Jackson, sitting there at his locker.

"You've got to understand it's going to be like that," teammate Jeremy Maclin said of opposing defenses and their attention on Jackson. "The guy went crazy last year. Obviously, teams are going to be aware of where he is this year. That's a simple fact. They're pretty much doing it to everybody. They're sitting up there saying, 'We're not going to let you all run by us. We're going to send our safeties 40 yards deep. You're not going to run by us.' Then, they're going to try to bring pressure. Simple as that. That's all we're getting. If you look at the four teams that beat us, they all kind of had the same, similar strategy.

"They're not going to let us run by them. We've done it too many times. Obviously, every game, you get your opportunities to do so - so when we can, we have to capitalize on it. Today, we didn't really do that. It's about being patient and taking what they give us."

This just in: DeSean Jackson does not do patient.

Send e-mail to

hofmanr@phillynews.com,

or read his blog, The Idle Rich, at

http://go.philly.com/theidlerich.

For recent columns go to

http://go.philly.com/hofmann.

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