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Will The Philadelphia Eagles Miss DeSean Jackson?

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Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images.
Photo by Drew Hallowell/Philadelphia Eagles/Getty Images.

In 25 words, the Philadelphia Eagles and DeSean Jackson situation ended exactly how everyone expected it to end late last week: miserably, disgracefully and leaving us with a whole lot of questions.

The beginning of the end commenced when NJ.com speculated in a report (on Friday) that Jackson’s relationship with certain gang members really bothered the Eagles. A few hours later, Jackson was released.

“After careful consideration over this offseason, the Philadelphia Eagles have decided to part ways with DeSean Jackson,” the club said Friday. “The team informed him of his release today.”

Despite the gang “connection” (if there is even one), the Eagles won’t ever make it seem as if that’s the reason they released him. Instead, they’ll continue to cling to the “poor work ethic and disruptive locker room character” narrative. Either way, it doesn’t really matter. The bottom line is that Jackson is no longer a member of the Philadelphia Eagles. It now introduces the question as to whether or not said Eagles will miss said troubled, standout receiver. After all, Jackson isn’t your ordinary wide receiver, or at least the statistics don’t say so.

The 27-year-old Jackson set career-highs in catches (82) and yards (1,332) in 2013 under Chip Kelly’s high-octane offense. Aside from that, he’s also a three-time Pro Bowler and averages 17.2 yards (ranks fourth in active WRs) per catch in his career. He’s a player, to say the least.

But will Kelly’s interchangeable-style offense really miss Jackson’s deep-threat ability?

Ideally, the answer would be no. And that’s the way Kelly wants it to be known. Heck, even his players are already siding to the defense of the now second-year Eagles coach.

Per the Philadelphia Inquirer, two unnamed Eagles players (who requested anonymity) said that Jackson was a distraction and that he won’t be difficult to replace.

Eagles C Jason Kecle wasn’t as forward but technically echoed the same message when he took to Twitter in support of his team’s move.

But even with that said, it still doesn’t answer the question: Will the Eagles fall-off without the statistically well-off receiver?

According to NFL.com, statistically, it appears that Jackson really attributed from Kelly’s offensive philosophy last season. In his first five seasons, Jackson’s career-high in catches was 62, which he reached in both his rookie and sophomore seasons. As we already referenced, last season he finished with a career high 82. Same could be said about his total yards. In 2013, he finished with 176 more yards than his previous highest, which came in 2009 (1,156). He also tied his career-high in touchdowns (nine) under Kelly last season.

It’s easy to say that he relished under Kelly — right now. However, in a year from now there’s also a way in which we could say that Kelly’s offense relished through Jackson. If you take away the deep threat from the Eagles offense, what really happens? We don’t really know — not yet.

What we do know is what he brought to the table before. He wasn’t just a stat-filling, highlight reel waiting to happen. Schematically, he helped out the Eagles more than what a sheet of paper can ever prove.

Jackson forced the defense to scheme against him, opening single-coverage or poor-zoning for the rest of his fellow receivers. Plenty of times some teams even had to designate a safety to shadow Jackson over the top just because of his game-breaking speed, thus leaving the box lighter for the an already effective running game. Not anymore.

Since 2008, no one has more receiving touchdowns of 30-plus yards than DeSean Jackson (21). It’s no question that he’ll be missed. We just don’t know by how much – not yet.

It’s not easy to just dignify an answer to whether or not the Eagles will miss him. It’s not fair. Sometimes we have to just play the “wait-and-see” game before answering ourselves. However, if we use the resources we have now (statistics and game tape), it appears that the Eagles are going to miss Jackson. It’s not every day that you can add a receiver at his caliber, and they just released one.

In 25 words.