Yes, the Philadelphia Eagles sent shockwaves through the NFL world by cutting the explosive wide receiver fresh off his finest professional season. A few days later, of course, Jackson signed with the rival Washington Redskins. Philly coach Chip Kelly subsequently reinvigorated his receiving corps with some young talent, taking Jordan Matthews (second round) and Josh Huff (third round) on Day 2 the 2014 NFL Draft.
Now that we've had some time for the dust to settle -- and for the initial hysteria to wear off and corresponding moves to be made -- let's return to the most basic question of this whole ordeal: Will the Eagles ultimately regret releasing DeSean Jackson?
No ... as long as Chip Kelly is the genius some think he isThe answer goes back to how much you believe in Chip Kelly as an all-time offensive innovator. Logic dictates that taking the most explosive playmaker out of your offense will make your offense less explosive. The hook for the Eagles -- I presume -- is the faith that Kelly can find new ways to keep the machine humming while gaining locker room harmony with DJax doing his DJax thing down I-95.
The Eagles won't regret releasing Jackson because the move was never just about production. There are gains here you won't find on a stat sheet.
Or at least they can tell themselves that.
Unanswered questions make this one tough to predictWhether or not the Eagles regret releasing DeSean Jackson depends on many factors. First, will Jackson and the rest of a talented Redskins receiving corps led by Pierre Garcon join with a healthy Robert Griffin III to push past the Eagles and win the NFC East? I think they can. After all, you would think Jackson will be highly motivated to prove Philly was wrong to release him.
As for replacing Jackson's production, I think the Eagles will find that difficult. Jackson's speed gives him an advantage in the deep passing game, and there's no one on Philly's roster who can quite replicate that.
However, when Kelly was coaching at Oregon, I always felt he relied on the running backs to key the Ducks' offense. The Eagles have not explained their motivation for releasing Jackson beyond citing "football reasons." On the field, he will be missed, but are there other issues that will cause Jackson to not be the player he should be? We will have to wait and see about that.
Kelly's approach made Jackson expendableThe Eagles won't regret releasing DeSean Jackson, because their offense isn't built around one receiver. It's built around an offensive line that quietly could be the best pass-protecting unit in the NFL. Given time to throw, Nick Foles usually has three or four options to turn to.
Chip Kelly's system gets players open early after the snap, and it relies on having great depth rather than singular talents like Jackson. More importantly, Kelly is in the early stages of building his program. Because of his work habits and attitude, Jackson didn't fit in. Jettisoning him sends a message to all current and future Eagles about the kind of team Kelly is going to run.
The Eagles are still loaded with offensive talent"Bigger people beat up little people."
No, that's not a line spoken on "Game of Thrones" by the imposing Tywin Lannister to his diminutive son, Tyrion. It's Chip Kelly's philosophy for building a better football team.
In 2013, Kelly's offense thrived with DeSean Jackson as its top pass-catcher, but I suspect the Eagles won't miss a beat without Jackson, thanks to the return of Jackson's stylistic doppelganger, Jeremy Maclin, and the additions via the draft of Josh Huff and the 6-foot-3 Jordan Matthews. Throw in spectacular running back LeSean McCoy, incumbent big target Riley Cooper, tight ends Zach Ertz and Brent Celek and the Tyrion-sized Darren Sproles, and it's clear Philly's offense oughta soar even higher in 2014 ... or, at the very least, beat up Washington's group of smallish receivers.
Jackson should excel in D.C., but Philly will be just fine without himI love DeSean's talent and think he will be great in D.C., but there's no chance the Eagles will regret this. He was a knucklehead. Chip Kelly didn't want to deal with it anymore.
Jeremy Maclin is back after missing all of last year, rookie receiver Jordan Matthews was a fantastic second-round snag, and Darren Sproles adds sizzle as a pass catcher out of the backfield. Oh, and Nick Foles, who was the most valuable QB not named Peyton Manning last season, will get even better in his second year as a starter. (This is his first offseason as the unquestioned man in Philly.)
Kelly's system works, and it will remain highly explosive with star runner LeSean McCoy and the aforementioned components.