DeSean Jackson waited five long years for this moment. The 5-foot-10, 175-pound speedster never wanted to leave the Eagles’ nest after the 2013 season, his best as an NFL player.
He was dumped by then-coach/general manager Chip Kelly, a football guy who never grasped the reality of how grown men are coached.
After three years in Washington, Jackson went on to play for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for the last two seasons. His heart never left Philadelphia. After the 2018 season, Jackson got his wish.
On March 13, Jackson and a 2020 seventh-round selection were traded to the Eagles in exchange for a 2019 sixth-round compensatory selection (pick No. 208).
Jackson could not have asked for a better script for his return to Lincoln Financial Field on Sept. 8.
Opening game at home against one of his former teams, the Washington Redskins, a packed stadium and his quarterback, Carson Wentz, is the best passer he has ever played with.
After the Eagles fell behind 17-0, Jackson played an important role in the Birds’ 32-27 comeback win against the Redskins.
Jackson was targeted 10 times and caught eight passes for 154 yards, including two touchdown passes. The first was a 51-yarder, the second one was a 53-yard score.
After the game, Jackson talked about the reception he received from the home fans.
“It was very exciting and a lot of emotion,” the 32-year-old said. “The past 48 hours have been racing for me. Trying to keep my calm, my jitters and anxieties has been a roller coaster for me the past 48 hours. I am happy that it is over with the first game, coming back to Philly, and all the emotions I had going into the game. I couldn’t have predicted for it to be any other way.”
Jackson talked about the team’s slow start.
“We came out and started off slow and struggled,” he said. “But not one moment in that game I didn’t think we were going to come out and win that game. I kept stressing to the boys when we came in the locker room that I have been over there before in that locker room and I know how they are. I just stressed to my teammates that I felt that at halftime, they probably thought they had the game sealed and won. I just said we were going to go out there and it is just going to take one play and play a one-play mentality. We came out and we scored and had a lot of momentum the rest of the game.”
Redskins cornerback Quinton Dunbar said it wasn’t blown coverage on Jackson’s first touchdown. It was poor execution by the coaches getting the defensive play onto the field.
“Not relaying the call, everybody not knowing the call,” Dunbar said at his locker after the game. “It was a late call getting in. We started playing another coverage, call got in late. It came down to miscommunication.”
The 23-year-old out of Florida did acknowledge the Eagles have a talented receiving corps.
“They’ve got a lot of key players,” he said. “Their whole offense is loose. You never know who the ball is going to. Adding DeSean Jackson this year is a tremendous addition. We had the better first half, we came out in all cylinders. The second half wasn’t all too bright. We have to get better and be more disciplined.”
Eagles all-pro tackle Lane Johnson, after the win, said the offense needs to stop playing so poorly at the start of games. “It’s been going on for a year and a half now,” he said. “Maybe next week we’ll figure it out.”
Johnson did say it was good to see the offense click after the half.
“It felt good to see DeSean run by everybody a couple of times.” Johnson said “Alshon (Jeffery) having some big plays and (Zach) Ertz. Then we got the ground game going with Jordan and Miles and Sproles having a good day. It was really good to see both sides of that.”
Johnson also talked about having the home run hitter in Jackson being so valuable.
“When you always have that deep threat, you always have those safeties, it’s in the back of their minds, always keeps them honest,” Johnson said. “Once that happens, you can open up the run game…that’s what we did. The first half couldn’t have gone any worse, the second half got a lot better.”
Wentz, who was 28-of-39 for 313 yards and three touchdown passes, said Jackson brings real energy to the offense.
“I love his emotion and his attitude,” Wentz said. “What he brings to the game, mentally, he’s a fighter. He wanted to show it today, and it was good to see the passion that he brings and the entire offense brings.” ••
Follow Al Thompson on Twitter @thompsoniii