I would like to take a moment to recognize our true number one receiver. In the snowbowl yesterday, DeSean Jackson had all of his perceived strengths taken away. He could not rely on speed and agility to get open and make big plays. Instead, he had to rely on other skills that we often overlook.
D. Jackson 4 rec. 59 yards 14.8 avg. 1 TD 19 Long 6 targets
C. Johnson 3 rec. 49 yards 16.3 avg. 0 TD 33 Long 5 targets
R. Cooper 3 rec. 74 yards 24.7 avg. 0 TD 44 Long 9 targets
DeSean Jackson had a better statline than Calvin Johnson in a game where receiver size and physicality should have been the most important factors in the passing game. Calvin also had a quartback with a cannon arm throwing into blizzard wind. How did Jackson outperform Johnson?
DeSean Jackson plays with great awareness. That third quarter touchdown catch that brought the Eagles solidly back into the game? That throw was not even to DeSean. It appeared to me that he broke off his route to be where the ball was going. It seems the defensive back guarding him also thought the route was going elsewhere because he was no where near the play.
This is not the first time DeSean has shown great awareness. He has actually done it ever since he entered the league. Most fans probably remember the Eagles' playoff run in 2009. McNabb threw an interception that would have likely dashed the team's hopes. Jackson single-handedly saved that play by chasing the defender down and forcing a fumble. Awareness like that is rare.
DeSean also has a lot of football intelligence that is often ignored because of his personality. Further, it is ignored partly because Desean has frequently been underutilized. He can run all the routes and be a versatile receiver. He has proven that this year by lining up in the slot, catching wide receiver screens, and running crossing routes to great effect. He is not a go-route one trick pony.
DeSean has great hands and body control. This is all the more obvious when contrasting him to Riley Cooper. Coop has made a lot of great plays this year but has also made his share of misses on catchable balls. When I am watching a game and see the ball int he air, different thoughts run through my head when the receiver is Cooper and the receiver is Jackson. With Cooper, I get anxious about whether Coop will be able to get to the ball and hold onto it. With Jackson, I just hope the ball is put into a catchable spot. I know he will take care of the rest. Obviously, this last point is anecdotal. Maybe a more dedicated person can look into how efficient of a receiver DeSean is, while factoring in the "catchability" of the ball.