DeSean Jackson out to be Chip Kelly's new De'Anthony Thomas

DeSean Jackson out to be Chip Kelly's new De'Anthony Thomas

April 4, 2013, 12:30 pm
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DeSean Jackson has put up some pretty good numbers in his five years with the Eagles. Very good numbers. Jackson is one of only 25 players in NFL history to average 1,000 receiving yards over his first five seasons (including playoffs) and the only player in NFL history with 14 touchdowns of 60 yards or more before his 26th birthday.

Terrific numbers.

All he can think about now is how much better he can be under Chip Kelly.

“I think a lot of times in the past couple of years, teams were really able to key in on me and things like that,” Jackson said Wednesday. “So as far as moving me around the offense and keeping the defense off guard, [that’s] something we’re going to be able to do.”

Jackson might be onto something.

Since scoring a career-high nine receiving TDs in 2009, that figure has decreased each year, to a career-low two in his injury-marred 2012 season.

Jackson’s yards-per-catch has also dropped, from 18.3 his first three seasons – at the time second-highest among active players – to 16.1 the last two years.

Some of the decline could be simply due to quarterback issues and some could be physical issues on Jackson’s part, as he’s dealt with concussions and wear and tear on his body.

But Jackson believes whatever is going on with his career will change under Kelly.

“I definitely feel like it’s a fresh start,” Jackson said in his first interview with Philly media since his 2012 season ended with two broken ribs last Nov. 26 at the Linc against the Panthers.

“A new coaching staff coming in, a lot of different, new faces in the locker room that we have to learn as well. … I’m very excited about the opportunity, whatever the role is, hopefully being able to play multiple positions. Being moved around is something I’m looking forward to.

“I have a lot on my shoulders. Gotta get that playbook down, gotta learn it, and that’s something I’m looking forward to.”

Jackson said he doesn’t know enough yet about what Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur are going to run to really have a sense of how he’ll be used, but a pretty good indication is how Kelly used De’Anthony Thomas at Oregon.

Thomas, who like Jackson grew up in Los Angeles, had 91 catches for 1,050 yards, 1,296 rushing yards with an 8.8 average and 32 total touchdowns in two seasons under Kelly in Eugene.

“Me and De’Anthony, we have a great relationship, so when I see some of the stuff he did at Oregon, to myself it’s a blessing to me,” Jackson said, his eyes lighting up.

“Because we kind came from the same area, grew up in the same area, and that offensive style was almost like cheating to myself to see that. I’m like, ‘Man, he’s cheating to score all those touchdowns, scoring all these points, doing all this crazy stuff.’

“So I’m just excited to fit into that role and see how it turns out for myself.”

Jackson, who said he’s 100 percent recovered from his busted ribs, hasn’t been to a Pro Bowl since 2010. He’s been productive and was actually on pace for a career high in receptions with 45 in 11 games before his injury last season.

But he hasn’t been that electrifying player who beat Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie for a 66-yard touchdown in the 2008 NFC Championship Game, who scored an NFL-record eight touchdowns of 50 yards or more in 2009 and who led the NFL with 22.5 yards per catch in 2010, highest by any NFL receiver in 21 years.

Despite the recent downturn, Jackson said he’s confident his best years are ahead of him.

“Definitely,” he said. “I feel like the sky is the limit for myself. Last year, getting hurt towards the end of the year, fracturing two of my ribs, it was very disappointing in regards to the season we were having. I felt I was still able to help this team and do things I’m able to do to really spark the energy and spark my teammates up.

“I think this year coming up, with Chip coming in here with the style of play of his offense, it’s really going to help me out a lot … because I’m going to be able to get certain looks and get the ball in my hands and do different things that we weren’t doing the past five years.”