Philadelphia Eagles News

Jackson, Offense Look To Soar

Jackson has 29 receptions and 2 touchdowns receiving, and he is averaging a shocking 3.7 yards on 9 punt returns this season. While there have been flashes of Jackson's jaw-dropping speed and game-breaking abilities -- he is averaging 17.3 yards per catch and has had a pair of games with more than 100 yards receiving -- Jackson has been quiet too often for the Eagles in 2011.

We are waiting for Jackson to turn it on, just as we are waiting for the Eagles to kick their season into a new gear. There are eight games to go and a playoff spot to be salvaged, and if Jackson is feeling the frustration, he isn't showing it.

He has handled everything -- the won/loss record, his numbers and his contract situation -- with maturity. Now it's time to do something about it.

"I think we're energized. We're ready to go out there and get it going. We felt like we let one slip away last week," said Jackson. "We've been working hard trying to erase all of the bad games we've had and to start fast and fresh.

"I'm sure the guys on the team are frustrated, but at the end of the day we control our own destiny, so instead of being frustrated we have to go out there and execute our plan."

Jeremy Maclin and Brent Celek have been the primary targets for quarterback Michael Vick of late. Both Maclin and Celek have played well, and when it all came together against Dallas the offense was a beautiful thing to watch. Jackson knows defenses are trying to take away his speed stretching the field, so when he looks up and sees a safety over the top, Jackson knows the ball is probably going to go somewhere else.

That's a difficult dose of reality for such a game-breaking receiver, but there you go. If the Eagles can't get the ball to Jackson vertically, can he catch enough slants and stop routes to make defenders miss and gain big yards?

Something has to give for the offense, which is coming off its worst statistical game of the season in Monday's loss to Chicago. The Bears took away the big play, the staple of this offense. Vick operates at his best when he can hurry the ball down the field and score quickly.

The Eagles, bottom line, need Jackson to be big again.

"Everything I do, you put forth the best effort and I think I've been doing that," he said. "Coming to work and doing my job, I think I've been doing a great job of that. Of course, everybody in the locker room can say there is something he can get better at ... at the end of the day I'm putting my best effort up, I'm trying my hardest and that's really all I can do.

"Regardless of stats, numbers, and then wins and losses, you can't really control that. You've just to be in right position at the right time and take care of my job to the best of my ability."

Jackson points to three games against NFC East rivals as the key games remaining on the schedule, but the truth is that the Eagles have almost no margin for error. Maybe they have a chance to reach the playoffs at 10-6. It certainly looks like no way 9-7 will get them in.

Whatever happens, Jackson's performance bears watching. He is in the final year of a contract. There is absolutely no guarantee that he will return in 2012. A lot is on the line for Jackson, and for the entire Eagles team, over the course of the next two months.

Will the game-breaking Jackson get back on track and lift this offense to a new level? Can the Eagles figure out a way to unleash Jackson on a week-to-week basis?

Considering the other answers and perspectives is difficult to digest. Have defenses caught up with Jackson? Is he more of a one-dimensional, vertical threat at the position?

There are questions that need to be answered. Sunday is another chance to observe, to judge and to figure out what is going on with this team, with No. 10. The future is now on many levels. The Eagles, Jackson included, have to lay it all on the line every week if they hope to salvage this season.

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