DeSean Jackson: Why Would Any Coach Punt To Him?

Ryan FallerAnalyst IDecember 19, 2010

DeSean Jackson returns a punt 65 yards to cap the Philadephia Eagles' dramatic 38-31 win over the New York Giants at The Meadowlands on Sunday.
DeSean Jackson returns a punt 65 yards to cap the Philadephia Eagles' dramatic 38-31 win over the New York Giants at The Meadowlands on Sunday.Nick Laham/Getty Images

DeSean Jackson can score from anywhere on the field and at any given time during any given game.

Of course, the Giants already knew that. Still, perhaps Tom Coughlin should have seen this coming.

After all, it’s happened before.

Just over a year ago, it was Philadelphia that severed the Giants’ playoff hopes with a demoralizing 45-38 win at The Meadowlands, keyed by a 60-yard catch-and-run from Jackson, who had returned a punt 72 earlier in the game.

What transpired on Sunday wasn’t exactly a mirror image, but unfortunately for Giants fans, it was close enough.

Never mind the defense giving up 21 points in the fourth quarter. Or the fact the offense failed miserably to sufficiently pad the lead after half time. The New York media will come hunting for Coughlin’s head this week after Sunday’s crippling 38-31 loss, and they’ll only ask one question in their pursuit.

Why would you ever punt the ball to DeSean Jackson while protecting a one-score lead late in a game that could very well decide the NFC East?

Wait, check that. Let me rephrase: Why would you ever punt the ball to Jackson, especially after what he has done to you in the past?

Of Jackson’s three career punt returns, two have come against the Giants in New York. If Coughlin hasn’t already drawn up a chart of situational decisions regarding whether or not to punt to an opponent’s return man, he will soon.

That said, all things considered, I’m not sure what else Coughlin could have done in the waning seconds Sunday. He made the proper decision; his players just failed to execute.

Instead of Coughlin, let’s put the blame on punter Matt Dodge, who, instead of kicking a floating tear drop, fired a scud missile off his right foot, all but negating the chance of Jackson calling for a fair catch at the Philadelphia 35-yard line.

Furthermore, why wasn’t Dodge able to get that ball a little bit closer to the sideline? It’s not as if Coughlin told him to kick it right at Jackson.

But I’m not singling out the poor punter.

An equal dose of criticism goes for the Giants return unit, which allowed Jackson plenty of time to recover from a muff, and then whiffed as he scrambled backward before sprinting 65 yards untouched.

If the ball is kicked five yards to Jackson’s left, or a tackle is actually made, the game goes to overtime and the Giants get a chance to redeem themselves and keep their hopes for an NFC East title alive.

None of those things happened for the Giants on Sunday.

What did happen was DeSean Jackson.