DeSean moves on, says he doesn't miss the Eagles

Former Eagle DeSean Jackson said the Washington Redskins are now "my team. This is where I am for better or worse."
Former Eagle DeSean Jackson said the Washington Redskins are now "my team. This is where I am for better or worse." (MATT ROURKE / AP)
Posted: December 17, 2014

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - DeSean Jackson quietly sat at a visitor's locker stall at MetLife Stadium after yet another defeat and could have been just any player on the floundering Redskins.

The Washington-area media had far greater concerns than a wide receiver who caught just three passes for 15 yards in the Redskins' 24-13 loss to the New York Giants. Starting quarterback Colt McCoy suffered an early injury and Robert Griffin III was thrust back into the spotlight.

Receiver Santana Moss was kicked out of the game for arguing after an apparent Griffin rushing touchdown was ruled a fumble.

Jackson, whose Redskins host the Eagles on Saturday, seemed anything but the center of attention he was this past NFL offseason when the Eagles inexplicably released him in March. On Sunday, he was just another player on a losing team, playing meaningless games down the stretch.

Jackson's old team, meanwhile, was preparing for a Sunday night showdown with the NFC East title at stake. If there was ever a time to ask if he missed the Eagles, this seemed to be it.

"Nope. I don't miss the team. I don't miss the organization," Jackson told The Inquirer. "There's no point in living in the past. This is my team. This is where I am for better or worse. Do you live in the past? It's no way to live."

In September, Eagles running back LeSean McCoy, who speaks to Jackson regularly, said that he still cared about the team and still wondered why he was released. Jackson said on Sunday that he never received clarification. Did he still want an explanation?

"Didn't you hear? I'm a gangster," Jackson joked. "I'm in a gang. That's why I'm gone."

He was referencing a story by nj.com that loosely made note of his connections to a Los Angeles gang. The Eagles released Jackson less than an hour after the story was posted, but Eagles coach Chip Kelly has said that he cut his receiver strictly for football reasons.

In September, several players like McCoy, linebacker Mychal Kendricks and cornerback Cary Williams said they still wondered why Jackson was ultimately let go. Many players suggested that it was because he didn't buy into Kelly's program and the shifting culture.

"I know there's still guys in that locker room that got my back," Jackson said.

Jackson still pays attention to the Eagles. Asked if he thought the team missed him, he pointed to the production of Jeremy Maclin, his receiving counterpart for four seasons.

"They've still got Maclin. I'm happy for my boy. He's been dealing all year," Jackson said. "But it's Maclin and that's all they've got."

Maclin has had a career year despite missing all of last season after he suffered a torn anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee. He has caught 78 passes for 1,207 yards and ten touchdowns and is on pace (89-1,379-11) to top even Jackson's 2013 numbers (82-1,332-9) in Kelly's offense.

Riley Cooper's statistics have plummeted a year later, however. The Eagles' other starting outside receiver has 48 catches for 487 yards and one touchdown after finishing last season with 47 receptions for 835 yards and seven scores. Cooper's average per catch has dropped from 17.8 to 10.1.

Last week after the Eagles fell to the Seahawks, 24-14, Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman said that the Eagles missed Jackson "tremendously." Sherman and Jackson are childhood friends and Sherman wrote a column for Sports Illustrated in April criticizing the Eagles for cutting the Pro Bowl receiver.

"He's my boy," Jackson said of Sherman. "He speaks the truth."

The Eagles' unsettled quarterback issue has certainly not benefited the offense, particularly the outside receivers since Mark Sanchez took over for the injured Nick Foles. Rookie slot receiver Jordan Matthews (56 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns) has flourished with Sanchez, however.

But Matthews had no catches in the Eagles' 38-27 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday night. Cooper finished with only two catches for 17 yards. The Eagles' receiving corps was held to eight catches for 57 yards and a Maclin touchdown against the Seahawks.

Maclin, Cooper and other Eagles have said the Eagles don't miss Jackson's production. He has 50 catches for 975 yards and five touchdowns in 13 games for the Redskins this season. He leads the NFL in yards per catch (19.1) and catches over 40 yards (10). Maclin is third with seven.

"I think Mac can make plays down the field," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said last week when he was asked about Jackson. "I think Coop can make plays down the field, and we've seen Jordan Matthews make some big plays, too. . . . We are really comfortable with the guys we have."

Jackson was targeted eight times on Sunday, but he never got in rhythm with Griffin. The quarterback threw late to his receiver over the middle and high on a screen pass on back-to-back plays in the second quarter.

After the series, Jackson walked to the bench and tossed his helmet to ground. Griffin, who has been mired in his share of controversy this season, walked over to Jackson, exchanged fists with his teammate and spoke to him for a minute.

After the game, Redskins coach Jay Gruden was asked whether he thought Jackson was hustling back to the huddle. He said he didn't notice anything. Jackson has always been an emotional player, whether breathtaking or disinterested.

But nothing seemed out of the ordinary on Sunday, except perhaps that he wasn't the center of attention in the postgame locker room.

Before he departed, Jackson had two questions about the Eagles:

"Do you think they're going to win it all?" and "What do you think of Sanchez?"

The loss to the Cowboys may have answered those questions for the former Eagle.


jmclane@phillynews.com

@Jeff_McLane

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