The Eagles need to face facts; they are going to miss DeSean Jackson. Some interesting numbers crunched by my friend Jimmy Kempski on Philly.com detail why.
The 2013 Eagles were the most explosive offense in the NFL. Although the Broncos scored more touchdowns on offense (71) than the Eagles did (51), Philly scored its TD’s much more quickly than anyone else. Their average TD drive took just 2:08. The Vikings were second in the league, taking 2:32 on their touchdown drives. By comparison, the Redskins were 30th in the NFL burning an average of 3:45 to score their 33 offensive touchdowns.
Their ability to score quickly stemmed in part from Chip Kelly’s fast-paced no huddle offense but the real key to their success was their ability to eat up big chunks of yardage with explosive plays of 20 yards or more. The Eagles’ 99 plays that covered 20+ yards were the most in the NFL since the league began tracking such plays since 1991.
Jackson was responsible for 25 of those explosive plays, the most of the team. And Kempski digs in further to show that Jackson’s big plays didn’t just puff up the receiver’s stats. On every Eagles drive that contained a Jackson explosive play resulted in at least a field goal attempt. His 26 explosive plays (counting one in the Eagles’ playoff loss to the Saints) came during drives that ended with 17 touchdowns, seven field goals and two missed field goals.
“Ever since he was cut, coping without DeSean Jackson has been framed in terms of replacing his 82 catches, 1332 yards, and 9 TDs,” said Kempski. “That may be replaced by another player or a combination of players in time, but there isn't a receiving weapon on the roster, as currently constructed, who can come close to matching Jackson's explosiveness.”
The Redskins had just 55 explosive plays last year and, of course, the hope is that Jackson will add to that total. There seems to be little question that the Jackson transaction helped the Redskins and hurt the Eagles. What we won’t know until September is how much the Jackson moving closes the gap between Washington and its division rival in Philadelphia.