DeSean Jackson Owns the Redskins, Says Defenses ‘better get in shape’

DeSean Jackson Owns the Redskins, Says Defenses ‘better get in shape’

Among the most positive signs from the Eagles’ 33-point offensive outburst on Monday night had to be the performance of DeSean Jackson, at least as far as individuals are concerned. Coming off of consecutive seasons with declining numbers, the two-time Pro Bowler showed he’s ready to serve as the torchbearer for the wide receivers in Jeremy Maclin’s absence.

Jackson’s seven receptions were one shy of a career high, while 104 yards accounted for more than half of Michael Vick’s 203 through the air. It was also the fact that DJacc was clearly Vick’s favorite target, as he looked the electrifying receiver’s way nine times – three more than anyone else.

Then there was the efficiency. Seldom in his six-year career has Jackson hauled in 78-percent of the passes thrown in his direction, especially when that kind of volume is coming his way.

Clearly Chip Kelly had a great game plan for how to utilize his star wideout, as we saw Jackson catch balls on far more short and intermediate routes than it seemed the Eagles ever attempted under Andy Reid. Of course, it helps that the Redskins have something of a feeble secondary, while DeSean has been no stranger to ripping off big plays against Washington throughout his career.

For example, Jackson’s 25-yard touchdown catch was already his seventh career touchdown in 10 games versus Washington – he’s only found the end zone more against the Giants. But here’s the crazy part: according to Elias Sports Bureau, it might be his least impressive scoring play on Washington to date. Per the statisticians:

DeSean Jackson caught a 25-yard touchdown pass from Michael Vick on Monday, which was Jackson's seventh TD in 10 games vs. Washington - and at 25 yards, it was the shortest of those seven touchdowns! He had previously scored on receptions covering 88, 62, 57 and 35 yards, and also on a 67-yard run from scrimmage and on a 68-yard punt return.

It’s safe to say DeSean has been a thorn in the Skins’ side ever since he returned a punt for a touchdown on them in his rookie year.

Jackson entered this season on the heels of a strong training camp that garnered some media attention, and he seemed to be taking the great individual effort in stride. After the game, he (like everybody else) took questions about the pace of the Eagles’ offense, offering this warning to opposing defenses. Via Kent Babb of the Washington Post:

“A couple guys were going down with cramps and things like that to kind of slow us down,” said Jackson, who nonetheless had 104 receiving yards. “Not sure how serious the injuries were and things like that, but as far as the offense, we’re like, ‘Come on, let us keep going.’ ”

“A lot of teams,” he said, “better get in shape.”

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

Best of NBA: Wall, Wizards top Knicks for 4th straight win

NEW YORK -- John Wall had 29 points and 13 assists, scoring Washington's final four points in the last 32 seconds as the surging Wizards beat the New York Knicks 113-110 on Thursday night.

Otto Porter Jr. made six 3-pointers for the second straight night and added 23 points, but the Wizards needed big plays from Wall down the stretch to win their fourth in a row.

He made two free throws to put Washington back on top after New York had rallied to take a 110-109 lead, then rebounded Carmelo Anthony's miss and left all the Knicks in his dust as he raced down the floor for a dunk with 13.7 seconds to play.

Anthony finished with 34 points but Wall stole the ball from Brandon Jennings to prevent the Knicks from attempting a 3-pointer that could have tied it (see full recap).

Leonard scores 34 to lead Spurs over Nuggets
SAN ANTONIO -- Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points, rookie Dejounte Murray added a season-high 24 and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a pregame injury to Pau Gasol in beating the Denver Nuggets 118-104 on Thursday night.

Denver's three-game winning streak was snapped despite a career-high 35 points from Nikola Jokic.

Leonard had his fifth straight 30-point performance, right after learning he will start for the Western Conference in the All-Star Game for the second consecutive season.

The Spurs were unexpectedly without Gasol, Tony Parker and then coach Gregg Popovich. Gasol and Parker were both late scratches due to injury, and Popovich was ejected for the first time this season.

Gasol broke the ring finger on his left (non-shooting) hand by jamming it against Kyle Anderson's shoulder during pregame warmups while attempting a running hook. The 16-year veteran center immediately clutched his hand and left the court.

X-rays revealed the break, and the Spurs said there is no timeline for Gasol's return.

Irving, James lead Cavs over Suns
CLEVELAND -- Kyrie Irving scored 26 points, All-Star teammate LeBron James had 21 points and 15 assists, and the Cleveland Cavaliers looked more like themselves at home in a 118-103 win over the Phoenix Suns on Thursday night.

The Cavs were back in Quicken Loans Arena following a six-game road trip (their longest of the season) that concluded with an embarrassing 35-point loss at Golden State. But on their home floor, they had better offensive balance and ball movement while improving to 30-11 -- the same record Cleveland had at the halfway point of its 2016 NBA championship season.

Channing Frye scored 18, Iman Shumpert 17 and James Jones 14 while filling in for star forward Kevin Love, still bothered by back spasms.

Tyson Chandler had 22 points and 16 rebounds, but the Suns lost for the fourth time in five games (see full recap).

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

Best of NHL: Surging Capitals rock Blues in St. Louis

ST. LOUIS -- Andre Burakovsky, T.J. Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov each had a goal and an assist to lead the Washington Capitals to a 7-3 victory over the St. Louis Blues on Thursday night.

Jay beagle, Brett Connolly, Marcus Johansson and Justin Williams also scored, and Alex Ovechkin and Daniel Winnik each had two assists to help Washington earn at least a point in its 12th straight game (10-0-2) for an NHL-best 66 points.

Braden Holtby bounced back from his roughest outing of the season with 22 saves. Holtby was pulled after giving up a season-high five goals on 26 shots in an 8-7 overtime loss at Pittsburgh on Monday. He improved to 22-8-4 and 5-0 lifetime against St. Louis (see full recap).

Grabner scores 2 goals, Rangers top Leafs
TORONTO -- Michael Grabner scored two goals against his former team, helping the New York Rangers snap a three-game losing streak with a 5-2 victory over the Toronto Maple Leafs on Thursday night.

Pavel Buchnevich, Brady Skjei and J.T. Miller added goals for New York, and Henrik Lundqvist made 23 saves following a series of rough outings.

Tyler Bozak and Zach Hyman scored for Toronto, which had a three-game winning streak stopped. The Maple Leafs had earned 21 of a possible 26 points in their previous 13 games (10-2-1). Frederik Andersen gave up four goals on 40 shots (see full recap).

Tavares leads Islanders to shutout of Stars
NEW YORK -- Getting a new coach this week didn't change things much for the Islanders -- and oddly enough, that's a good thing for New York.

John Tavares narrowly missed out on his second hat trick in a week, Thomas Greiss got his second straight shutout and the Islanders beat the Dallas Stars 3-0 on Thursday night in their first game since firing longtime coach Jack Capuano.

New York canned Capuano in the middle of his seventh season Tuesday, replacing him on an interim basis with Doug Weight (see full recap).

Niederreiter, Wild dodge letdown, edge Coyotes
ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Nino Niederreiter had two power-play goals and an assist, including the go-ahead score for the Minnesota Wild with 7:06 remaining in a 4-3 victory over Arizona on Thursday night after the Coyotes came back from a two-goal deficit.

With Shane Doan in the penalty box for hooking, Niederreiter knocked in a nifty redirect of Mikael Granlund's slap shot for the winner. Devan Dubnyk stopped 20 shots for the Wild, who are 18-2-2 in their last 22 games.

Louis Domingue made 21 saves for the Coyotes, who lost their fourth in a row and fell to 2-12-1 in their last 15 games starting with a 4-1 loss to Minnesota in Arizona on Dec. 17 (see full recap).