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DeSean Jackson sees bright future in Philly
December 4 Wilmington News Journal:
“After returning to form and making some big catches in the 34-24 win over Houston on Thursday night, Eagles wide receiver DeSean Jackson said he’s “very happy” with the Eagles and dismissed a report that said he’s causing distractions in protest of his contract.
Jackson, the Pro Bowl wideout, caught three passes for 84 yards against the Texans, including a 33-yard reception deep in Texans territory that set up the go-ahead touchdown in the fourth quarter, just four days after being admonished by head coach Andy Reid in the locker room following Sunday’s loss to Chicago.
After the Texans win, Jackson said he had moved on from the Chicago postgame fireworks and looked forward to his “bright future” with the Eagles.
“I’m happy to be here,” he said. “Never once was I unhappy and I know I have a bright future, so I’ll leave it at that.””
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“The injury news was optimistic yesterday when Eagles coach Andy Reid spoke to reporters, as his players began a much-needed 5-day break.
Reid said cornerback Asante Samuel (knee) and defensive end Juqua Parker (hip), who have missed the last two games, “are making progress and when we resume practice, they should be available to go.”
Right tackle Winston Justice, who left Thursday night’s game with a left knee injury after Amobi Okoye rolled onto the back of his leg with a little more than 9 minutes left, has a hyperextension, Reid said, not a sprain. That makes it seem possible Justice also might be ready when the Eagles start to prepare for their Dec. 12 visit to Dallas.
Everybody will feel a little fresher by Wednesday, when practice resumes. The team originally was scheduled to regroup Monday for a light workout, but Reid canceled that practice yesterday, and players quickly scattered. They’d just gone 3-1 in a stretch of four games in 18 days.
“I think we needed that [break],” Reid said. “We played a lot of games here in a short period of time, and we played some teams that had had extended time to get ready for us and were fresh. And it looked like it helped some of the other teams, so I welcome it right now. I can’t tell you I was thinking that before we played a Thursday game, because those are a little bit rough to get ready for, but now it’s done, and everything worked out OK, it’s good to have this year.”
* Reid gave props to general manager Howie Roseman for the in-season additions of running back Jerome Harrison, fullback Owen Schmitt and safety/special-teams ace Colt Anderson, all of whom figured in the win over the Texans. Reid said Harrison, who carried three times for 20 yards, “is definitely worthy of playing more.”
Harrison seems to be caught in the vortex that severely limited Correll Buckhalter’s touches for severa years – Reid and offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg are reluctant to use more than one back at a time.
“It’s just hard at times to take [LeSean] McCoy off the field when he’s in the swing of things and doing as well as he’s doing,” Reid said. “But it seems like every time Harrison gets in, he does a good job. And we need him. We need him to spot McCoy.”
* Reid said defensive coordinator Sean McDermott “is beating himself up” over the defense’s last-in-the-NFL red zone performance. (So, presumably, McDermott knows how his players feel?)
“We’ve got to just continue to put guys in the right position, and guys, when they have opportunity to make plays, they have to make plays,” Reid said. “It’s really that simple, so we’ll keep on working on it, so that we get better there.”
* The right guard spot, where Max Jean-Gilles started so Nick Cole could rest his ailing knee, seems to be up for grabs right now. Reid said Jean-Gilles played well.
Eagles’ young defense plagued by inconsistency
December 4 Philadelphia Inquirer:
“Sometimes a problem is so glaring, such as the Eagles‘ red-zone defense, not even Andy Reid – who has raised optimism to an art form – can paint a rosy picture.
Confronting Reid and defensive coordinator Sean McDermott is this: Opposing teams have scored touchdowns on 26 of 33 trips (79 percent) inside Eagles‘ 20-yard line.
“It’s too much,” Reid said Friday, a day after the Eagles survived their defense’s red-zone ineptitude and beat the Texans, 34-24. “We’ve got to do a better job there. Sean is beating himself up over that. So, he’s looking at it, been looking at it.”
That’s about as close as Reid will ever get to criticizing one of his coordinators. But there’s a message there: I don’t how you’re going to do it, but your defense has to tighten the screws when the field gets shorter .
Houston scored on all three of its possessions inside the Birds’ 20. It’s difficult to determine why the Eagles are worst in the NFL in red-zone defense, but lack of size and inexperience are possible reasons.
One theory holds that the Eagles‘ smallish unit can be overpowered when opposing offenses pack it in.
Judging from Thursday night, inconsistencies from a relatively young defense may be more at play.
On Houston’s first series inside the 20, the Eagles‘ four-man rush failed to generate pressure on Matt Schaub and the quarterback had enough time to find receiver Jacoby Jones unguarded for an 8-yard touchdown.
It was not the best game for the Eagles‘ defensive line in terms of its pass rush. End Juqua Parker has missed the last two games with a hip flexor strain and Brandon Graham has been almost a nonfactor. The rookie had only one assisted tackle against the Texans.
In the third quarter, Houston controlled the clock and pieced together 11-play and 13-play drives that produced touchdowns. The Texans converted five third downs in a row at one point.
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