With about one minute remaining in the first half of last Monday night's game, DeSean Jackson fields a punt around the 20-yard line, a solid directional kick that turned the sidelines into a 12th defender of sorts. With nowhere to go, and the coverage bearing down fast, DJac hovers backwards, hoping to buy time until a crease opens.
Until Jackson is done running in the wrong direction, he's not only conceded nine yards, but the ball comes out, too. Mind you, a fumble is usually terrible in any situation. It gets magnified by quite a bit when it happens during a nine-yard loss, deep inside the team's own territory, with halftime right around the corner -- all classic ball control scenarios.
Jackson was front and center in what was arguably the most devastating and dumb mistake of the game, a play that literally handed Chicago seven points in a contest decided by six. Only days later, he skips a special teams meeting, an unexcused absence. Further compounding the issue, it's not even the first time Jackson pulled this type of stunt.
In the grand scheme of things that have gone wrong this season, DeSean Jackson's fumble is easily lumped under broader categories such as "turnovers," and "talented wide receivers coming up small in big situations." The play mostly would have been mentioned in the same breath as Jeremy Maclin's critical fourth-quarter drop in Atlanta, and his fumble that finished off the Eagles against San Francisco, or Jason Avant's hands problem in Buffalo. Michael Vick is stocking up on killer turnovers like they are going out of style.
It's not just a fumble anymore though. Now it represents an idea that Jackson is not doing everything in his power to help the Eagles win, that his contract dispute with the front office is influencing his attitude and conduct. If a player isn't giving 100%, who wants him out there on Sunday? The fact that the Eagles desperately needed a win on Sunday in order to keep their shrinking postseason dreams alive doesn't mean they should let one of their stars disrespect his teammates and the coaching staff -- and by extension, the fans.
The fact that Jackson and the Eagles have not been able to agree to a contract is unfortunate. Jackson far outplayed his rookie deal. He is a special player whose speed can dictate coverages. We thought they should have done something for him by now, and given their history of locking in their young, core players, it's somewhat of a surprise the organization chose to deal with DeSean this way.
Then again, incidents like the one that got Jackson deactivated this week give us a peak into the other side of the story. Coupled with the fact that he is perceived by some as underperforming this season, and has a reputation for disappearing for stretches already, a case starts to build for why the Eagles might be better off without DeSean Jackson.
Andy Reid clearly thought his club would be better off without Jackson on Sunday, even if they actually weren't, and that is the most troubling aspect. But if Jackson believes he doesn't need to be held accountable for his actions because of how much he isn't being paid, who wants to root for somebody like that?
If the Eagles are gonna go down in flames anyway, I'd rather they do it with the guys who are working their asses off.