Philadelphia Eagles: DeSean Jackson is ready to lead by example

(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images)
(Photo by Patrick Smith/Getty Images) /

After a lengthy absence, Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson made a historic return to the Linc on Sunday, sparking the Birds to their first win of the 2019 season.

On March 29, 2014, Chip Kelly, the now infamous former head coach of the Philadelphia Eagles, made one of the most shocking decisions in franchise history by releasing star wide receiver DeSean Jackson.

It was a move that seemed to fit a fabricated narrative that Jackson was no longer a good fit for the team or its culture. Some fans bought into and were happy to see Jackson go amid sudden rumors of gang involvement and sour feelings regarding comments made about his contract.  Most fans though, understood what they were losing by letting a player of Jackson’s caliber walk for free.

Fast-forward to September 2019, and it feels like the City of Philadelphia just got one of its favorite sons back from a lengthy vacation. After being acquired in a trade from Tampa Bay back in March, Jackson made a triumphant return to Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday, leading the Eagles past one of his former teams, the Washington Redskins.

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There was a fair bit of nostalgia at play, as seeing number 10 in midnight green was a sight that brought back welcome memories for this fan base. Even Jackson himself admitted that he had to overcome some pregame emotions prior to kickoff. According to Dave Zangaro, Jackson said he was “a bundle of nerves and excitement”.

Some of that emotion seemed to spill onto the field, as Jackson got into it with Quinton Dunbar, costing a team a roughing penalty when they were already down and sputtering offensively.

But there was something else to that short burst of fiery emotion aside from a little jawing. It was a spark, something that went off inside of Jackson, perhaps planting a seed that would sprout later on in the game.

And sprout it did, in the form of a 51-yard touchdown reception from Carson Wentz in the second quarter that gave the Birds some much-needed life in a game that was slipping away. And Jackson apparently wasn’t done there.

In the second half, Jackson struck again, this time finding himself wide open down the sideline and hauling in a 53-yard bomb from Wentz. That gave the Eagles a lead they would never give back, and the Redskins, who once led by 17, looked hapless.

This is the DeSean Jackson that Eagles fans remember. The dynamic playmaker who at times can be near impossible to cover. He’s always been a deep threat, but on Sunday, it seemed like Wentz was looking for every opportunity to find Jackson on the field, as he hauled in a couple of nice grabs for shorter gains to supplement his two highlight-reel scores. In total, Wentz targeted Jackson ten times.

Jackson did what leaders do- they lead by example. They go out and will their teams to victory despite overwhelming odds. It felt like Jackson was buzzing all over the field on Sunday, especially once the Eagles started moving the ball more effectively. It later came out that Jackson was the one who spoke to the team at halftime, urging them to keep pushing forward.

Jackson gives this Eagles offense the type of dynamic threat that can really burn opposing defenses. They were able to win a Super Bowl in 2017 by utilizing a varied run game, elite tight end play, and timely production from the receiving corps, but adding Jackson to this squad gives it an element that is going to give defenses fits all season long. This is arguably a better offense than what they had in that Super Bowl year, and they have their MVP caliber quarterback back.

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Jackson’s return to the Linc was one for the record books. He took over the game and sparked the Eagles’ offense to a point where it never looked back. Jackson never should have stopped wearing the midnight green, and now he gets to show that he’s back and perhaps, better than ever.