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Derrick Gunn recently sat down with DeSean Jackson to discuss the wide receiver's thoughts on Chip Kelly's new offense, Jackson's career thus far, his relationship with his father, his tweets and his upbringing. Here's Part I of Gunner's three-part interview with Jackson:
Derrick Gunn: Every offensive player that I've talked to has been raving about this Chip Kelly offense. And I have to ask you, what is it about the offense that is so appealing? Is it because it's new, it's innovative, it's different? Is it because of what's happened to you guys the last couple of years? Or is it a combination of the two?
DeSean Jackson: First off, I think the combination of last year first and foremost being a tough year for us and being able to swallow that. It was one of the toughest years to be here in Philadelphia, so to be able to have a fresh start with a new coach coming in, with the energy, with the young mind of Chip Kelly, I think that everyone is just willing to embrace it. At the same time, it's a challenge for us as professionals. For him to come in, you know, a lot of players have been on this team for several years and just to change the system around and for all of us to grasp it and really understand the ins-and-outs of it is a big challenge for us. But I think we're all willing to take it head on, and at the same time we're all out there encouraging one another. With a new offense coming in from college, I don't think that anyone thinks it's going to work. But so far so good, so I'm a firm believer of me loving offense, and of me just being able to move throughout the offense anywhere is a huge addition as well.
G: Does it feel like a college campus around here? You've got smoothies for the players everyday, got a college coach coming here, you got loud music, whole new type of energy in this organization now.
DJ: Yeah, I mean a lot of things I think are installed from college. Me being in the NFL now going on my sixth year just kind of remembering from college - knowing what I went through when I was in Cal - a lot of similarities come in with Chip Kelly coming in from Oregon. He's a Pac-10 guy like myself, well Pac-12 now, but I think right now it's a new energy in the building. A lot of young players, a lot of young faces, coaches. Everybody's different. Same management with [Jeffrey] Lurie and Howie Roseman still here so there's still familiar faces and familiar coaches like Ted [Williams] and Duce Staley being here still. And really allowing other coaches to still understand what type of players they have here and how to start from finish to start. And so fa,r since April 1 to where we're at now, for myself and I can speak for everyone else here in the building and on the team, it's like night and day; because when we first came in we didn't know nothing, and now it's like we almost got the whole system down. So it's a blessing and opportunity at the same time.
G: You were a Pro Bowl player in 2009 and 2010. What does it take to get back to that level again?
DJ: For myself I just look at the opportunities that's given to myself. Anytime I'm able to go out there, I just try to be consistent, to expect nothing but my game to be at the highest level. The last couple of years have been fortunate for myself. I went through a contract [negotiation] and last year actually getting hurt. I just want to put that behind myself and move forward. I don't like to trip over old stuff from behind, so anything I can do to help this team to win games is really what I care most about. Myself, coming along with a new offense with Chip Kelly being here, I think that speaks for itself so as long as I stay patient, keep working, and ... accept nothing but excellence from myself.
G: Because this is the type of offense that likes to spread the wealth from the tight ends to the running backs to the wide receivers, as you just said, you can't get caught up in individual numbers. But let's face it. With any sport, guys always talk about individual numbers. Is it hard to not let that creep in the back of your mind?
DJ: I don't think it's hard. It's real. It's going to be there. Looking at myself and the type of player I expect myself to be going out there on the field, I expect myself to go out there and make the crazy plays and make the plays no one thinks I could do. Hopefully that leaves me on ESPN; not only that, but also us winning games. I just want to get back to getting to the playoffs. And the Philadelphia history, since I came in this building and as long as I can remember, it's nothing but winning here. You know bleed green. Hopefully we can get back to that mentality, that anger, and at the same time going out there and playing and having fun.
The last couple of years and as long as I've been here, like I said, I've always thought of us to be one of the best teams in the NFC East. Not to discredit any other team out there with the Giants, the Redskins and the Cowboys, but last year as you can see some new teams came in. [Robert Griffin III] came in and they did some great things, but I still think the Philadelphia Eagles [are] a top team in that division. This year, I'm just really excited for the fresh start.
No team knows what we're going to do on offense. No team knows what we're going to do on defense. They have no film to really watch on us. Everything's new, and we're going to be coming out of nowhere and people aren't going to be expecting certain things. It's going to be continued throughout the whole season, and that's why we're starting now and we're starting early. The offseason is where a championship is won, and I think Chip Kelly is doing a great job in the start of that, and not making excuses, not being complacent. Just going out there regardless of it being April, March or whatever the case may be, May or June, we're still thinking about September, and not only September, but also January, February and right when the Super Bowl is around. So that's what we're thinking here and we know we're putting in the work first and foremost. I don't think it's easy to skip steps. You need to go long into doing what you need to do to get to where you need to get to.
G: Like any player, you have evolved in the five-year span that you've been in the league. Tell me how much so, both mentally and in the physical aspect of it.
DJ: I think I came in my first couple of years and did some off-the-charts type of things as far as numbers, plays and things like that. Able to be so young and still mature, now I'm 26 and I came into the NFL when I was 20 years old. I probably thought I knew it all and probably thought they couldn't tell me nothing with things. But really sitting back and grasping great information from the older the players and the older brothers of mine who've been here, that's left this game with legacy, [I'm] really getting back to the fundamentals and really putting in the work. Sometimes I might get complacent because I am so talented and things come easy to myself. But at the same time, that's when the people who really care about me push me to the next effort. Say it's a route, run that route full speed. Because at times I can be jogging and be faster than some guys on the team. So, it's really just giving the effort in and just expecting nothing but the best out of myself.