Eagles' Jackson sets himself apart, but not in a good way

Posted: December 02, 2011

SEATTLE - DeSean Jackson sat by himself, alone, as he if he weren't even part of the Eagles offense.

It's difficult to imagine Jackson's no longer being the big-play piece in Andy Reid's fastbreak offense, but the prospect becomes more imaginable with each week as the Eagles' disaster of a season comes to its crashing conclusion.

Earlier this week Jackson said he wanted to remain an Eagle. You wouldn't have noticed it watching his Thursday night effort, one that was every bit as lackluster as that of the Eagles.

Where to start?

How about before the game, when Jackson was spotted hanging out with the defensive ends as the rest of the wide receivers warmed up? Jackson eventually trotted over and caught passes from quarterback Vince Young, but the mere sight of the receiver detached from his position group seemed odd.

"I'm not answering none of that type of question," Jackson said. "If you're going to ask something about the game, do that. . . . Next question."

Later, once the game started, it became clear that Jackson wasn't going to play a large part in the offensive game plan. In the first half, he was targeted only two times. He caught just one of those passes for 5 yards. Later, he took a handoff on an end-around and picked up another 5 yards.

"Actually there were quite a few plays called for him," Reid said. "They were making an effort to double him and move a safety in."

But that was it. He could have done more, though. On one play, Jackson ran a post pattern and wasn't the first option. Young scrambled and looked right at No. 10, but the receiver never looked back to his quarterback when it was obvious the play had broken.

NFL Network cameras caught Young afterward talking to Jackson on the sideline. But he just stared blankly off to the side. Jackson appeared to spend more time engaging with the Seahawks than his own teammates.

"If that's what they saw, that's what they saw," Jackson said of the cameras. "I don't have to sit here and answer them questions. My teammates know what it is."

One teammate, though, when asked if Jackson was completely in the game, said: "No, he's [messing] around."

When Nnamdi Asomugha suffered a head injury in the second quarter and lay motionless on the ground, Jackson walked over, looked at the Eagles cornerback, and then started chatting with Marshawn Lynch.

The Seattle running back and Jackson were teammates at California, and Seahawks head coach Pete Carroll - formerly the Southern California coach - poked his head in and apparently made a joke. Lynch and Jackson laughed. There's no harm in having a conversation, but considering the circumstances, Jackson's chat seemed out of place.

As the game got out of hand in the second half, Jackson spent the first two minutes of an Eagles timeout talking with cornerback Brandon Browner as his teammates got water and Young went to the sideline.

After Young's fourth interception, Jackson flung his helmet to the bench and then gave a swift kick. He walked over to the quarterback, though, patted him on the shoulder, and leaned in for a talk. Jackson was asked if he was frustrated.

"Frustrated with losing, frustrated with losing," Jackson said. "Of course. Is there anything else to be frustrated with? No."

It's difficult to get in the young receiver's head. Jackson has made it no secret that he has wanted a new contract. The Eagles, by not extending Jackson, seemed to be testing him. At first, he passed the exams. He said all the right things and gave the necessary effort. But the last month, he went from a B student to a D one.

Jackson was late for meetings and was benched for the Cardinals game. He bounced back with a vintage performance against the New York Giants. But he regressed against the New England Patriots, short-arming two passes in the end zone, and was benched by Reid in the fourth quarter.

And now this: four catches for 34 yards.

There are four games left for Jackson to prove his worth, but the Eagles may have already come to a conclusion. Will they put a franchise tag on Jackson during the offseason and then trade him? Will they simply release him? Is an extension even possible, if both sides can find the same ballpark?

When Seattle went ahead by 24-7, the Eagles offense walked to the edge of the sideline, ready to take the field. Jackson sat still on the bench a solitary figure. He eventually got up but stood off from the rest of his teammates.

Could he be sensing they won't be on the same team next season?

Jackson celebrated his 25th birthday Thursday. It may have been his last one as an Eagle.


Contact staff writer Jeff McLane at 215-854-4745, jmclane@phillynews.com, or @Jeff_McLane on Twitter.

 

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