Around 9 AM EST Sunday morning, the surprising news broke that Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson would not play Sunday because he had missed a team meeting Saturday. Eagles fans hoped that the offense would be able to get by without Jackson, the Pro Bowl receiver who has 29 receptions and 503 yards on the season, especially with the team lining up opposite an Arizona Cardinals team that ranked 28th in overall defense and 29th against the pass.
But that was not the case, as the Eagles fell at home to the Cardinals 21-17 and the Eagles' wide receivers combined for only eight catches for 55 yards in Jackson's absence. The Eagles weren't done any favors when Jeremy Maclin left the game early with a shoulder strain, only to return and then leave for good with a hamstring strain. Though his presence was certainly missed on the field, Jackson's teammates agreed with head coach Andy Reid's difficult decision.
"We respect coach and his decision," said fellow receiver Jason Avant, who only registered one catch for two yards. "I thought it was a bold move. I thought it was a really gutsy move. He gave us an opportunity to go out there today and prove that we could go out and win the game without one of our best players. We didn't do that. We didn't do that because we didn't do the right things. Who knows? We could have lost the game if he was there. I really respect Coach Reid for that decision.
"I hope that (Jackson) learns from this mistake, humbles himself and comes in with the right mind focused on getting ready for next week's game and learns from it because the biggest thing is that you don't want a guy doing the same things over and over again without learning."
Because the decision to sit Jackson came so late in the week, the Eagles' offensive game plan was no doubt altered.
"You game plan for having one of the most explosive deep threats in the game," said running back LeSean McCoy, "it was an absolute shock to head he wasn't going to be playing."
Still, the Eagles did not use Jackson's absence as an excuse.
"You just have to go out there and play," said Jeremy Maclin. "People lose their starting quarterback sometimes, look what Arizona did, their starting quarterback didn't play and they won the game. So that's not an excuse for anything."
Meanwhile, Vick, who made sure to say that he and Jackson have a "special relationship," Jackson's absence was disappointing but ultimately necessary.
"Coach has always been a no-nonsense guy since I've been here," he said. "If it was anybody else aside from DeSean, it would have been the same punishment. It was not because it was just him. So I think there are certain things that are tolerated and there are certain things that are not. It's just a situation where coach had to make a decision and he felt how he felt and I think DeSean respected it and there weren't any hard feelings and that's the end. I think he'll learn from it and move on."