In ’12, DeSean Jackson Harbors a Different Anger
DeSean Jackson arrived at Lehigh University for training camp yesterday, and his attitude was in stark contrast to his disposition a little under a year ago when he ended his holdout and reported to camp.
Last year, Jackson was late, disgruntled, distracted and angered by the Eagles front office. This time around, Jackson was punctual, content, focused and using animosity toward the Giants as motivation.
“To see the Giants win the Super Bowl last year and just to know how we played against them, honestly it kind of bothers me a lot,” Jackson said. “We’re just ready, man.”
In the last three seasons, the Eagles are 5-1 against the Giants, but the Birds have gone winless in two playoff appearances while watching their rivals win the Super Bowl in their lone trip to the post-season.
Last year was particularly frustrating for Jackson as his production dropped and he developed bad habits due to his ever so thinly veiled unhappiness without a contract extension.
Jackson was eventually suspended for a game for his tardiness to a team meeting, and late last season admitted he had lost focus and allowed his game to slip as a result.
David Culley, the Eagles wide receivers coach, conceded a few days ago that Jackson’s contract situation affected him on the field.
“I don’t think there was a fear factor involved,” Culley told the Philadelphia Daily News. “I think it was more, ‘I don’t want to get hurt because I don’t have a contract.’ The first two-and-a-half years he was here, that wasn’t an issue.”
Jackson caught 58 passes for 961 yards and four touchdowns last year after topping 1,000 yards in 2009 and 2010 while hauling in nine and six touchdowns, respectively.
Jackson avoided disclosing just how far back the distraction began, but the 25-year-old seems more than happy after signing a 5-year contract worth $51 million according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter.
“[My mind is] clear right now, man, so that’s all I can really say,” Jackson stated. “It’s been a great offseason, I worked very hard to get me where I’m at now.”
Jackson says he put on a little weight and gained a bit of speed, but he didn’t focus on improving his game in any specific areas.
“I’m the type of guy [that] I like to get a better all-around game,” Jackson said. “I’m going to be accountable; I’m going to do everything I need to do to help this team get them wins.”
All eyes will be on Jackson to see if his effort and output returns to his pre-contract dispute levels. As far as he’s concerned, it’s a fresh start and a big year both for himself and an Eagles squad that underachieved at 8-8 last year.
“I think everybody on our team knows how important this year is and everybody has a common goal, which is to win the Super Bowl,” Jackson said. “As long as everybody’s putting in the effort, which is right here working hard on the field and playing together as one team, I think the sky is the limit.”
Business-like McCoy Happy to Avoid Jackson-like Contract Distraction
LeSean McCoy saw firsthand how DeSean Jackson's frustration without a contract impacted the receiver and his teammates last year. So heading into the offseason with a desire for an extension following a career year, McCoy was thrilled that it went smoothly.
"I'm happy that the contract situation didn't get blown out of proportion," McCoy said. "Both sides wanted to get the job done and we did that. Now we're here - no distractions at all."
McCoy entered the negotiations with a different mindset than Jackson, having indicated a willingness to take a bit less money to stay in Philadelphia in exchange for eliminating some of the risk of waiting for an extension.
Upon arriving, McCoy made it clear that he's not going to take training camp lightly.
"I'm serious right now, just to let you guys know," McCoy said with a big smile as he arrived.
"It's all business," McCoy said.
Ryan Messick covers the Eagles for 97.3 ESPN FM. Follow him on Twitter.