Shortly after the Eagles were dismissed from the playoffs, DeSean Jackson sat near his locker at the NovaCare Complex. He had quite a few things to say, as you might recall.
The wide receiver began by proclaiming the year to be "a big statement for my team and for myself." He continued:
"I’m proven in this league," Jackson said. "And after this past year, went out there, no distractions, and just really put it all in for my team and went out there and had a lot of success."
Jackson isn’t a large man -- he’s generously listed at 5-10, 175 pounds -- but he’s never been short on confidence.
It should be noted, for the purposes of context, that Jackson’s proclamations came during a conversation about his contract situation and whether he deserved a new deal. But this isn’t about that. This is about what Jackson said regarding his talent.
If you plotted Jackson’s remarks on the boasting spectrum, they would fall somewhere north of Nick Foles' aw-shucks, just-part-of-the-team default position and somewhere well south of Richard Sherman’s hilarious, pro-wrestling-style self-aggrandizement. Jackson said he had a lot of success. And here’s the thing: Jackson was right.
The wide receiver -- who was initially named as an alternate for this weekend’s Pro Bowl -- was added to the roster when Texans receiver Andre Johnson decided he wouldn’t appear in the all-star exhibition because of "wear and tear." It will be Jackson’s third Pro Bowl appearance and his first since the 2010 season.
But even before the 32-year-old Johnson backed out, the 27-year-old Jackson deserved a return ticket to Hawaii. Johnson had 27 more catches than Jackson for 75 more yards. If that seems like a lot, it isn’t. Johnson was targeted 75 more times. Jackson had fewer opportunities, but still managed to average more yards per catch, yards after the catch and touchdowns than Johnson.
It was an excellent year for Jackson, and not just when you compare his numbers to Johnson. Jackson caught 82 passes for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns. It marked a career-high effort in the first two categories, and it tied his career-best in the last. Among his peers, Jackson was ninth in receiving yards, 14th in receiving touchdowns and 19th in receptions. But among players with at least 70 catches, his 16.2 yards per reception put him third. Jackson also had 25 catches that went for 20 or more yards. Only Browns breakout receiver Josh Gordon had more.
Since 2008, Jackson has 12 touchdowns for least 50 yards. That ties him with Detroit Lions receiver Calvin Johnson for the most in the NFL. Over that period, Jackson’s 17.2 yards per reception put him second in the league among players with at least 300 catches.
But while Jackson has always had big-play capability, it wasn’t until this season that he truly became a full-field threat. Jackson had 17 catches behind the line of scrimmage for 105 yards. He had 23 catches thrown between 1-10 yards for 265 yards. And he had 23 more receptions thrown between 11-20 yards for 432 yards.
Add it all up and it was the third year in Jackson’s career that he’s gone over 1,000, tying him with Harold Carmichael and Mike Quick for the most in franchise history. And while Jackson was 78 yards shy of passing Quick for the Eagles' single-season receiving record, he's only seven catches away from tying Quick for sixth-place on the Eagles' all-time receptions list. And with 348 more yards, Jackson will move ahead of Quick on the organization's all-time receiving list.
That’s the kind of year Jackson had -- the sort that etches his name into the franchise record book right next to players who have been highly-regarded for a quite a while. As general manager Howie Roseman put it after the season ended, Jackson had "a heck of a year."
"I feel like I’ve proved everything on the field," Jackson said. "To do some of the things that top receivers in this league do, I think like I’m right there at the top.
"What I think I’m able to do on the field definitely speaks for itself."
It does -- even when Jackson (ironically) also speaks about it. But that’s OK. The guy had a good season. He can pat himself on the back all the way across the Pacific. He earned it.