I love DeSean Jackson as much as any other Eagles fan. He is the face of the team, behind perhaps only Michael Vick and Andy Reid. His lightning-quick speed and reliable hands are depended upon heavily in Marty Morhinweg’s offense. He is one of the most explosive players in the National Football League.
Yet, time and time again we have also noticed Jackson’s weaknesses.
Jackson, despite all his speed, is very undersized. Generously listed at 5'10" 175 lbs. With his small size, he is not exactly a possession or go-to receiver. Throughout the 2010 season, sportswriters have written about how Vick and Jackson are the second coming of Donovan McNabb and Terrell Owens. However, they are gravely mistaken.
As explosive as Jackson and Vick are, McNabb and Owens were something else. Had they stayed together for more than the 2004 and 2005 seasons, there is little doubt in my mind that they would have won at least one Super Bowl if not more. In 2004, Owens hauled in 77 passes and caught 14 touchdowns. Jackson in 2010 caught 47 balls for 6 touchdowns. The numbers speak for themselves.
Of course Jackson did not have Vick for the entire season and averaged more yards per catch than Owens did (22.5 vs. 15.6). Still, any sports fan and expert would agree that Jackson’s main deadliness lies within making big plays.
Owens made big plays, but Owens was something Jackson was not. Owens was a possession receiver. Too often, Jackson disappears when double-teamed. T.O. was a dominant force of nature. He demanded double coverage and continued to outrun and out-muscle opponents for yardage and touchdowns. That is something that Jackson simply cannot do and likely never will.
The good news is that those responsibilities can be taken up by other receivers, such as Jeremy Maclin and Jason Avant. Unfortunately, that is not the only weakness in having Jackson as your No. 1 receiver.
Jackson has proven already that he is not immune to injury.
He suffered a great deal from an ankle injury last season and his role in punt returning was seemingly reduced. Also, having already suffered two concussions, it may only be a matter of time before Jackson’s career is cut short. Jackson, currently 24 years old, may see an end to his dominant playmaking before he reaches the age of 30.
Throw in contract unhappiness and Drew Rosenhaus as his agent and the kid could be on his way out of Philly even sooner.
Of course, a deal could be struck that would capitalize on Jackson’s prime and likely improve the Eagles offense even beyond its current state:
Again, I love Jackson and he is one of my favorite players on the team. However, Jackson’s weaknesses cannot be ignored. The Cardinals may be willing to swap number-one receivers with the Eagles if the deal is proposed.
Why? Larry Fitzgerald is clearly unhappy in Arizona. With the retirement of Kurt Warner, Fitzgerald had the likes of Derek Anderson and John Skelton to throw the ball to him (and still managed to haul in 90 balls for 1,137 yards!). The organization is desperate and more and more of its key players have left via free agency. Throw in the failed Matt Leinart experiment and the organization will surely enter a rebuilding process soon. And that would mean parting ways with the face of their franchise.
Larry Fitzgerald is one of the best receivers in the league and is dominant in all phases of the game. He can beat opponents downfield with his speed, he has very reliable hands, he is deadly after the catch, and he can go across the middle and catch balls in traffic while beating double coverage with his strength and leaping ability. There have been many instances when Fitzgerald has appeared to be the best wide receiver in the NFL.
And at 27 years of age, Fitzgerald still has many years in the tank. With Jackson’s durability issues, he may last an equal amount of years as Jackson will, if not a bit longer.
This is a trade that is equally beneficial to both teams.
If Arizona drafts a quarterback or acquires one via trade or free agency, they will need a wide receiver for him to throw the ball to. Jackson, one of the most explosive players in the NFL, would surely be a good option should Fitzgerald’s discontent prompt him to demand a trade or to be released. And in return, the Eagles would receive Larry Fitzgerald, arguably the best receiver in the league. And of course, Andy Reid would be wise to give additional compensation, such as a fifth- round pick.
With Fitzgerald as the number-one receiver, the Eagles would have the undisputed best offense in the league.
While the defense may continue to be a liability, opposing defenses will find it nearly impossible to stop Vick, Fitzgerald, AND Jeremy Maclin. Vick would have a number one go-to receiver and a safety cushion on offense. Fitzgerald could be the target the Eagles have desperately needed in the red zone which would decrease the need for Vick to rush into the end zone himself, helping to keep him healthy.
Also, just imagine if it had been Fitzgerald being covered one-on-one by Tramon Williams in the 2010 NFC Wild Card game. Would Williams have been able to box him out as he did Riley Cooper? We will never know, but few receivers beat one-on-one coverage better than Fitzgerald.
It all sounds so perfect, but it may not happen with Reid as the coach in Philadelphia.
Reid’s track record is of being reluctant to make blockbuster trades in most scenarios. But if he were to deviate from his philosophy to give Vick the ultimate weapon on offense, the rewards would certainly be great. McNabb only had a little more than one season with a go-to receiver and led the Eagles all the way to the Super Bowl. Imagine what Vick could achieve with a go-to receiver of his own.