Jackson thinks he's up to the challenge of Bucs' Revis

ASSOCIATED PRESS Darrelle Revis could prove to be a tough test for Eagles' DeSean Jackson.
ASSOCIATED PRESS Darrelle Revis could prove to be a tough test for Eagles' DeSean Jackson.
Posted: October 10, 2013

GREG SCHIANO is not a stupid man. I may be wrong about this, but I doubt the Bucs coach pulled his defensive coordinator, Bill Sheridan, aside this week and said, "You know what I think would be a swell idea Sunday, Bill? Having Darrelle Revis shadow Riley Cooper all over Raymond James Stadium."

No. Most, if not all, of the All-Pro cornerback's afternoon will be spent attached to the jock of the only wide receiver the Bucs really think they need to worry about - DeSean Jackson.

Cooper, who has replaced out-for-the-season Jeremy Maclin as the Eagles' other starting wideout, has been targeted 18 times in five games and has yet to have more than 29 receiving yards in a game.

Jason Avant is one of the NFL's better slot receivers, but he's cleared 40 receiving yards only once this season and has had only eight catches for first downs in five games.

Jeff Maehl? Two catches in three NFL seasons. Damaris Johnson? The guy's played a total of 18 offensive snaps this season and doesn't have a catch.

That leaves Jackson. To which the Eagles wide receiver says, bring it on.

"I'm definitely sure he'll follow me," he said. "We played him [in 2011] when he played with the Jets. He followed me in that game.

"I'm definitely sure his coaches are confident in him. But I don't think he can run with me. I don't think he's as fast as me. It'll be a challenge. He's a great player. I'm not trying to take anything away from him.

"I'm just focused on what we have to do here, which is win a football game. We're not going to make it into a one-on-one battle. It's not me vs. Revis. It's the Eagles vs. Tampa Bay. At the end of the game, as long as we're winning, that's all that matters to me."

In the only previous faceoff between Jackson and Revis, Jackson lost the battle, but won the war. Revis held him to only two catches for 28 yards, but the Eagles trounced the Jets, 45-19. LeSean McCoy rushed for 102 yards and three touchdowns, and tight end Brent Celek had five catches for 156 yards and a touchdown.

After underperforming the last 2 years, Jackson is off to the best start of his career. He's fourth in the league, with 525 receiving yards, and second in yards per catch, with an 18.8 average.

He already has notched three 100-yard receiving performances, which is only two fewer than he had in his previous 35 starts. He has caught seven or more passes in three of the first five games. He's never had three seven-catch games before in a season.

But many of the cornerbacks he's faced this season couldn't tie Revis' cleats. Six of Jackson's seven catches and 77 of his 132 receiving yards in Sunday's win over the Giants came against Trumaine McBride, who was making his first NFL start in 5 years. He victimized Prince Amukamara on his 5-yard touchdown catch from Nick Foles.

Burned the Redskins' E.J. Biggers and DeAngelo Hall for seven catches, 104 yards and a touchdown in Week 1. Ate Shareece Wright's lunch in Week 2, when he had nine catches for 193 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Chargers. You won't see any of those corners on a Pro Bowl roster in January.

But both the Chiefs and Broncos effectively neutralized him with a lot of tight man-to-man coverage. He was held to three catches and 62 yards by Chiefs corners Brandon Flowers and Dunta Robinson. Was held to two catches for 34 yards by ex-Eagle Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie in that 52-20 loss to the Broncos. It was the only game DRC has played worth a damn since signing with Denver.

Revis missed 14 games last season after tearing his left ACL. That's a difficult injury for a corner to come back from in a year.

But so far, so good. He's been targeted 22 times in the Bucs' first four games and has allowed only 12 completions and 8.5 yards per catch. In a loss to the Cardinals, he was targeted seven times while covering Larry Fitzgerald and allowed the future Hall of Fame wideout only four receptions for 38 yards.

He held the Saints' Marques Colston to one catch for 13 yards. He allowed only three completions for 18 yards in a loss to the Patriots.

"Revis is playing at a high level," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "And that reputation he has of being a shutdown corner, you see that on tape now. So I don't know if he's all the way back [from the injury], but he's playing at a high level."

With Michael Vick nursing a hamstring injury, Nick Foles is expected to start against the Bucs. But that shouldn't affect Jackson. Against the Giants Sunday, five of his seven receptions, 70 of his 132 receiving yards and his one touchdown catch all came on throws from Foles.

"Foles knows what he needs to do to be a good quarterback in this league and run this offense," Jackson said. "He has a good feel for everybody's ability to make plays down field."

Jackson looks forward to going up against Revis.

"He's a great player," he said. "One of the best cornerbacks in the league. I love facing guys that have the ability to go out there and be shutdown corners. Anytime you have guys like that [on the other side of the line], it gets the best out of you. You want to step your game up.

"He's in a little different defensive scheme [from the Jets']. He's playing [cover] 2 a little more. Moving inside, different things like that.

"[The Eagles coaches] will try to move me around, keep me fluid throughout the game. Try to catch them off guard and doing the things we've been doing the past couple of weeks and hopefully getting me open."

Jackson is one of the league's most dangerous deep threats. He already has 11 catches of 20-plus yards and four 40-plus yard receptions. His career high for 20-yard catches in a season is 21 (2010). The most 40-yard catches he's had was 10 in '09.

"Any guy trying to guard me one-on-one [in] man coverage definitely feels my speed, my ability to be a deep threat and go down the field," he said. "I feel comfortable and confident, no matter who is guarding me.

"Hopefully, we'll get some of those [coverage] looks, so I can go down the field Sunday. If not, if I have to do underneath [routes] or hitches or whatever the case may be to help my team win the game, that's what I'm here to do."

What would really help the Eagles is if Jackson stepped up his production in the red zone. The Birds are 30th in the league in red-zone efficiency this season, converting only seven of 17 trips inside the 20 into touchdowns (41.2 percent).

Jackson's 5-yard touchdown catch against the Giants was only the seventh red-zone touchdown catch of his career. He has only 17 red-zone receptions in five-plus seasons.

"Honestly, probably being an under 6-foot guy [has something to do with it]," the 5-9 1/2 Jackson said. "I'm not going to go up and catch a lot of jump balls.

"I don't know. It's been what it's been. Since I've been here, I've been a deep threat and a home run hitter. Whatever the plan is, whatever plays the coach calls, I have to go out there and do my job.

"If I get more opportunities in the red zone, I'd love that. If not, that's good, too."


Email: pdomo@aol.com

On Twitter: @Pdomo

Blog: ph.ly/Eagletarian.com

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