Shut out in the first half of a game? Only four catches for 30 yards? Say it ain't so ... DeSean Jackson is the focal point for every defensive secondary, and he knows it. It is the price of success. Against Green Bay, he looked up and saw a cornerback underneath and a safety over the top and sometimes a linebacker in the area, too and, well, Jackson was an invisible man for much of the opening-game defeat.
Green Bay did what it wanted to do, and that is to take Jackson's speed away from the Eagles' passing game. The offense didn't take advantage, and the result was a performance that, in the end, came up short in Week 1.
Week 2 beckons. Adjustments need to be made in every area on every team. And one thing the Eagles must do is get the ball into the hands of Jackson, the magical play-maker who scored eight touchdowns last year of 50 or more yards. No doubt Detroit has a player on its scout team wearing the red No. 10 as they highlight the many ways the Eagles use him in the offense.
And no doubt Andy Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are trying to counter with ways to put the ball in his hands. It is a classic chess match, with Jackson as the spotlight player, and one who very much wants to get back into the flow of his game-breaking ways.
"It definitely is frustrating but I brought that on myself the last two years catching all of those touchdowns and all of those deep touchdowns," said Jackson after Wednesday's practice at the NovaCare Complex. "That just makes it easier for my teammates to have one-on-one coverage and for us to take advantage of that so they can't keep double-teaming and triple-teaming me."
Jackson didn't give any hints as to what the offense might do to try to get him the darn ball, but Detroit plays a different scheme in the secondary. The Lions, he said, use more single-safety looks, while Green Bay used two safeties deep and made sure the underneath stuff was covered.
Maybe, just maybe, the Eagles will get the ball out to Jackson more quickly. That way, he can run after the catch and do damage with his legs and get this offense off early, no matter whether Kevin Kolb -- who will not practice until at least Friday -- or Michael Vick is throwing the football.
"That's important, to just try to do something within 10 yards. Once I'm going down the field it seems like everybody is focused on me," said Jackson. "I'm confident that Marty (Mornhinweg, offensive coordinator) and Coach (Andy) Reid will do things to get the ball in my hands a little quicker and things like that. Sometimes it just goes within the game plan. You have to go through certain things in order to get the success.
"It's not always bright lights. Sometimes you have to go through dark tunnels."
Jackson recalled the conversations he had with Hall of Fame receiver Jerry Rice when Rice tutored Jackson prior to the 2008 NFL draft. Rice said the true test of greatness in the league happens after a player defeats not only single coverage, but double coverage and even, at times, triple-attention looks.
Good is one thing, said Rice. Once teams game plan for you, and you *still *defeat all of that attention, then and only then can you can be considered great.
That is the level Jackson knows he needs to reach. He needs to be unstoppable.
"It makes me want to strive for more and to work harder," said Jackson. "The first game is over and I missed it. We lost. We're moving on. I think we're going to be OK, but we all know we need to play better."
Detroit's defense gave up big yards to Chicago and quarterback Jay Cutler last week so the Eagles have some fresh film from which to work. So do the Lions. They know that in the two games to close last season, Dallas contained Jackson and limited him to 5 catches, 50 yards and a late-game touchdown. They know that Green Bay shut Jackson out until the third quarter of Sunday's game.
They know that in order to control the Eagles offense, the first order of business is to not allow Jackson to roam free in the secondary.
"We have other guys who can make plays, so hopefully if they pay so much attention to me we will hurt them other ways," said Jackson. "That's the way it works in this league. Every player is a great player."
Jackson is a special player and a rare talent, and the Eagles need to find a way to unlock all of that speed and ability from the opening whistle. This is the challenge for the offense, for the game plan. Talent isn't the big difference maker in the league; schemes are. It is the Eagles' move then, to make a move with their most precocious player and put him in position to strike.