There were more than a few heads turned around the NFL this offseason when the Philadelphia Eagles outright released mercurial wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Second-year head coach Chip Kelly is known for his high octane offense and it was widely believed that the loss of the speedy wideout would hinder the Eagles on the field in 2014. Kelly disagrees and told ESPN.com that he didn’t think Jackson drew double coverage much in 2013 and he can simply plug another player in his place.
“I think most people played us in single high [safety] coverage and they played man across the board on anybody and no one was getting any help,” Kelly said. “Riley [Cooper] was getting man [coverage] on his side. DeSean was getting man on his side. Jason Avant was getting man in the slot. Zach Ertz, whoever our tight end was, was getting manned. Running back was getting manned.
“No one is going to play us in two [safeties] deep because if you play us in two deep, we can run the heck out of the ball. We had everybody as close to the line of scrimmage as possible and nobody was helping anybody. They were trying to stop the run game.”
Jackson did finish the season with 1,332 yards and 9 scores but went over the 100 yard mark just five times. 538 of those yards came in 3 games versus the San Diego Chargers, Oakland Raiders and late in the season against the Minnesota Vikings. Those three teams finished 29th, 28th and 31st respectively in pass defense in 2013.
While Eagles fans were initially upset at the release of one of their favorite players, Kelly does deserve the benefit of the doubt in his moves. In his first season in Philadelphia, he took the team to a division title, 10 wins and a playoff appearance after installing a very complicated, fast-paced offense. He did so with an unheralded quarterback in Nick Foles. I believe if Kelly believed that Jackson was an integral part of the Eagles offense, the wideout would still be a member of the team.