For as long as Donovan Mcnabb has been in Philadelphia, the prevailing complaint among fans has been the lack of quality receivers.
Prior to last season, the lone exception to that rule was the 2004 season, when Terrell Owens came to town and the Eagles rode the McNabb/TO connection all the way to the Super Bowl.
Of course, the very next season, amid injuries to McNabb and the familiar antics by Owens, things quickly fell apart
Soon, TO was in Dallas and Eagles backers were once again bemoaning a lack of talent among Philly's pass catching corps. Even McNabb himself complained on his personal blog during the offseason in 2008 about the lack of playmakers on the Eagles' offense.
Perhaps as a result of that, Philadelphia drafted DeSean Jackson in the second round three months later. And to slightly rephrase an old saying, the rest is quickly becoming history.
After a solid rookie season in which he showed plenty of potential, Jackson has fully blossomed into arguably the top playmaker in the league.
In the process, he is not only providing a glimpse into what could have been, but even threatening to totally eclipse that one great season McNabb and TO shared.
Their styles are clearly different. DeSean Jackson is a skinny speedster who can leave defenders holding nothing but air, having tied the record for TDs of 50-plus yards (eight) with two games remaining.
Terrell Owens is five inches taller (6'3") and 50 pounds heavier (224) than Jackson. While he is by no means slow, his ability to break tackles can turn a routine catch into a long gain.
However, outside of the obvious physical differences, there are plenty of similarities between the two, not the least of which is their ability to score anytime they get the ball in their hands.
Beyond that, the stats Jackson has accumulated thus far in his breakout sophomore year are actually pretty comparable to TO's one full season in Philadelphia.
In 13 games this season, Jackson has caught 56 passes for 1,087 yards. In 2004, Owens collected 77 passes for an even 1,200 yards in 14 games. That translates to 83.6 ypg for Jackson vs. 85.7 ypg for TO.
The one sizable advantage that TO has in that comparison is that he scored 14 receiving TDs, while Jackson has found the end zone only eight times on passing plays.
However, when you factor in Jackson's rushing and punt return plays, the additional three touchdowns and 549 all purpose yards more than even things out.
More importantly, Jackson has already exceeded Owens' 21-game tenure in green. And unlike TO's now infamous second-season blow-up, which precipitated his short stay, DeSean Jackson has been a consummate teammate thus far.
Provided that doesn't change anytime soon, Jackson is just scratching the surface of what should be a long and epic career as an Eagle.
Meanwhile, Terrell Owens is in the process of fading way up in Buffalo, having squandered what easily could have been a great opportunity in Philadelphia.
It's only a matter of time before "who?" is more than just a sarcastic response to references to TO among Philly faithful. McNabb and the Eagles finally have a top playmaker.
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