The Philadelphia Eagles will be reporting to training camp July 22 with a new growing sense of optimism about the upcoming season.
After the Eagles were victorious in their final four games of 2011, the confidence within the organization showed in the offseason. They retained Head coach Andy Reid and Defensive coordinator Juan Castillo from the coaching staff. Todd Bowles was also added as the secondary coach. Key players were kept in house with long-term contracts.
DeSean Jackson was one of those key players, as he signed a five-year deal worth $51 million in March. The extension was debated because of the distractions the wide receiver brought to the team last year. The talk was more about Jackson's future with the team than his performance on the football field.
Jackson totaled just 58 catches for 961 yards and four touchdowns in 2011. The yardage numbers were down significantly from the past two seasons. The explosiveness wasn't there and it looked like he didn't want to be involved in the game.
Circumstances related to his contract could have been the primary reason. The playmaker made a base salary of $555,000 last season. The concerns were he didn't want to risk injury by going over the middle and making a catch. He felt that he should have been paid more. Based on the statistics of his first three seasons, it's hard to blame him for wanting a new deal.
The fact is he finally received his long-term deal. It's time to put all the excuses aside and play ball. If the contract situation was the main reason for his lackluster 2011 season, then there are no more excuses.
Jackson is a guy who can take it to the end zone on one play. Most Giants fans remember the punt return for touchdown which capped off an amazing fourth quarter comeback late in the 2010-2011 season. He can be lethal on special teams, and with the offense.
Based on all the factors, it's reasonable to project a career season from the 25-year-old receiver. Nothing short of his 2009 and 2010 numbers are acceptable for Eagles fans and fantasy owners.
Expect Jackson to surpass 1,300 receiving yards and hit double-digits touchdowns for the first time in his career. It's his time and he has to prove it.