Can This Man Stop DeSean Jackson?
Browns cornerback Joe Haden told Cleveland reporters on Friday that he will "mirror" DeSean Jackson in coverage against the Eagles in Week 1.
This should be a good test to see what kind of Jackson we will see this season for the Eagles. Jackson admitted that at times last season he took plays off and that his contract situation bothered him. But the Eagles decided to give the play-making wide receiver a five-year, $51-million deal this off-season in hopes that the contract issues were the only reason for his down year.
“He’s put together a good training camp," Eagles head coach Andy Reid explained. "I think he is in the right frame of mind, number one. What that will do is [with] this game a lot of it is upstairs. I think his approach, all that stuff [and] everything that goes into it [like] working hard out on the practice field, timing with the quarterback, [and] all those things are better than what they were last year.”
With the contract issues behind him, Eagles brass is hoping that 2012 could be a breakout season.
“As you know, he’s great down the field, across the field, inside, breaking route," Mornhinweg said. "He’s very, very good as those types of things. He also can get in and out of breaks very, very quickly. He also, I’ve talked about natural playing ability; that’s what enabled him. He’s really sharp, he’s got natural playing ability and that’s what enabled him to play at such a high level so early in his rookie season. He was dynamite. The guys that are pretty sharp, they certainly have to have talent first; you have to have a certain amount of talent, but [if you’re] real sharp with the natural instincts and if they stay healthy, they tend to help you early and then DeSean’s been progressing ever since. He sure is a dynamic player for us.”
Haden will be a good test to find out.
Haden flashed legitimate shutdown skills last year before an October knee sprain rendered him less effective around midseason. He still played like a Pro Bowler most of the year, allowing fewer than 50 percent of the passes thrown his way to be completed.
“Joe Haden is I think one of the best, well I know, one of the very best corners in the league," explained Eagles offensive coordinator Marty Mornhinweg. "He’s an excellent cover man. He does an excellent job from bump-and-run, as well as off. He is physical. He’s got very good instincts. So, yeah, he’s a fine player.”
While Jackson has a speed advantage on Haden, the Browns' third-year cornerback is a much more physical football player. Either way, Eagles fans should have a good indication right off the bat whether DeSean Jackson came to play in 2012.