As the Philadelphia Eagles offense struggled in the final 35:15 of Sunday's loss to the Washington Football Team, DeSean Jackson not being on the field through portions of various possessions was baffling. Philadelphia's offense could have used one of the game's best deep ball receivers on the field along with rookie wide receivers Jalen Reagor and John Hightower, as the Eagles' offense was struggling to put points on the board.
While Reagor and Hightower were learning on the fly as a result of having no preseason games, Jackson was roaming around on the sidelines -- raising speculation whether the injury bug again reached a wide receiver who played just 65 snaps last year.
Jackson took to social media to address the concerns he was battling an injury, which he says was not the case regarding his mysterious presence on the sidelines.
For the record I wasn’t hurt or didn’t get hurt. I’m good.— Desean Jackson (@DeSeanJackson10) September 14, 2020
Jackson didn't have to address the rumors, but wanted to set the record straight after finishing with two catches for 46 yards Sunday. He was targeted seven times in the loss, even though he only played 54% of the team's offensive snaps. So what was the reason behind the limited playing time if Jackson wasn't injured?
"Obviously he's a big part of the offense, but at the same time, we want to make sure that he's a guy that's healthy and fresh for us down the long haul here," said Eagles head coach Doug Pederson. "I think each week, I would anticipate his rep count to increase as we go, and we're going to be smart with him but we also know that he's an explosive receiver for us and we want to get him on the field as much as possible moving forward."
Based on how Jackson was only able to suit up for three games last season (and played more than a half in only one of those games), Pederson has a point here. Philadelphia saw how horizontal its offense was without Jackson in the games he did not play last season, which is why the coaching staff revamped the personnel heading into 2020. Reagor and Hightower are strong deep-ball receivers in a vertical passing attack, but Jackson being on the field will contribute toward both wideouts having immediate success in the NFL. Without Jackson, the Eagles are relying on two rookie wideouts as the top downfield threats -- not an ideal situation.
If the Eagles are going to put their 33-year-old wide receiver on a pitch count, that may also present problems, as the team can't afford an 0-2 start to the season. Philadelphia ran 40 plays and recorded just 95 yards on its final 11 possessions, some of those with Jackson out of the offense altogether.
The Eagles could have used Jackson when their offense was struggling, not saving his legs for a postseason run that may not happen -- even in a bad NFC East.