He needed one yard to reach the milestone. He got 25 yards instead.
Late in the second quarter, with a little more than two minutes remaining before halftime, Nick Foles dropped back on 1st-and-10 and lofted a beautiful pass down the right sideline. DeSean Jackson had a half-step on Arizona cornerback Patrick Peterson, who was matched with the speedy wideout in one-on-one coverage on the outside. That half-step was all Jackson needed. He hauled in the pass as he ran out of bounds for a 25-yard reception.
The catch put Jackson over 1,000 receiving yards for the third time in his career and the first time since 2010. Only two other Eagles have had three or more 1,000-yard receiving seasons in their career: Mike Quick and Harold Carmichael. As pass-catching company goes in Eagles' history, that’s an excellent group.
“He’s been fantastic all year long,” Chip Kelly said about Jackson. “He’s worked extremely hard in everything we’ve asked him to do, from OTAs to the offseason to every day in practice. What we’re seeing on the field is really what time he’s invested.”
Jackson is having arguably his best season as a professional wide receiver. He has 1,021 yards, 61 catches and seven touchdowns. He’s just one catch and two touchdowns short of tying his career highs in both categories. And he’s on-pace for 1,361 yards. The Eagles single-season receiving record is 1,409 yards. That was set by Quick back in 1983.
“It’s helped that [Riley Cooper] is now so productive,” Quick said. “And even in a game against Arizona, with a good secondary, you have to get the ball to DeSean. He’s having a great season. He doesn’t drop balls. He’s really bought into what they’re doing. He doesn’t fight the system. He’s been a good solider. To me, that’s one of the reasons he’s been so productive.”
The knock against Jackson in previous seasons was that he was mostly a deep threat, that he didn’t go across the middle very often or serve as a possession receiver when needed. Whether that was true or not – and whether that was by personal choice or by request of the previous coaching regime – it’s obvious that Jackson has become a much more complete receiver this season.
Jackson entered the game with 14 catches behind the line of scrimmage, 19 that were thrown between one and 10 yards, and 17 more that were thrown between 11 and 20 yards. Fold those grabs in with the eight receptions that went 30 or more yards and it’s clear that Jackson has been a full-field option for the Eagles this year.
“This offense asks you to do so many things,” Quick said. “And, like I said, he’s bought in. So all the things they’re asking him to do, he jumps right in and gets it done.”
Quick has held the Eagles’ single-season receiving record for 30 years. Will Jackson break it this season?
“Yeah,” Quick said. “It’s a good time to do it.
“I had a great run. Hell, it’s been since ’83.”