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NFC East: Eagles’ Jackson Leads Explosive Start For East WRs

Posted Sep 17, 2013


It’s amazing how quickly one can write off a player in a league as competitive as the NFL.

On one hand, it feels like just yesterday that DeSean Jackson was one of the league’s most promising upcoming receivers – and yet at the same time it feels like ancient history.

Jackson went through a holdout in 2011 after three fantastic seasons. Having secured a contract, he turned in the two worst seasons of his career, punctuated by a 45-catch, 700-yard effort as the Eagles bottomed out to 4-12 in 2012.

It was enough for me to write off Jackson as a near-non factor in the Eagles’ need for a second wide receiver after Jeremy Maclin tore his ACL – you can go look it up. Needless to say, that looks a bit foolish after the start Jackson is off to in Chip Kelly’s offense.

Through two weeks, the speedster has 16 receptions for 297 yards – best in the NFL -- and two scores. He has gone for more than 100 yards in each of the Eagles’ games, and although it was a losing effort, he absolutely torched San Diego for 193 yards on nine catches on Sunday.

That type of production, if it keeps up, is going to force defenses to be honest, which should allow for more ridiculous runs from LeSean McCoy. On top of that, it’s going to push Jackson back into the conversation about the league’s most dangerous pass-catchers.

He obviously isn’t alone in the NFC East. Dez Bryant showed Sunday why he’s one of the NFL’s best receivers, despite a crucial drop. The Cowboys made a concerted effort to get Bryant the ball against Kansas City after a disappointing debut, and they’d be wise to maintain that strategy.

And what about Victor Cruz? Cowboys fans need no reminders of his three touchdowns in the season opener. He didn’t find the end zone against Denver in Week 2, but his eight catches for 118 yards against the Broncos mirrored his yardage total against Dallas.

It’s got to be a relief for the Giants that the guy they dropped franchise money on two months ago is off to a fast start. Cruz’s yardage and touchdown totals – 236 and three – are both tied for third in the league after two weeks.

Those are only the bigger names. New York has four 100-yard receivers after two weeks, with Hakeem Nicks’ 197 yards sitting dangerously close to 200 yards. All told, 10 pass-catchers in the division have crossed the 100-yard mark at this early date: Jackson, Cruz, Nicks, Bryant, McCoy, Pierre Garcon, Leonard Hankerson, Miles Austin, Brandon Myers and Rueben Randle.

It seems safe to say there will some fireworks in the NFC East this year.

Number crunching to this point in the season:

  • Whatever might be going wrong for the division teams, the kicking game looks good. Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey is the leading scorer in the NFC and No. 2 in the NFL with 22 points. He’s a perfect 6-of-6 on field goals, including kicks from 51 and 53 on Sunday. New Giants acquisition is a perfect 4-of-4 on the year with a long of 41, and second-year Eagles kicker Alex Henery is 4-of-5 with a long of 48 and his lone miss from 46.
  • Tony Romo’s first two weeks haven’t been exactly incredible, as he has yet to crack 300 yard this season. He is, however, leading the NFL in completion percentage with 66 completions in 91 attempts , or 72.5 percent.
  • Surprise, surprise: when you can’t run the ball, your quarterback racks up passing attempts. Romo and Eli Manning are tied for third in the league with 91 attempts, and Robert Griffin III is just behind with 89 so far. Michael Vick, who is currently presiding over the second-best running game in the league, has only thrown 61 passes – 25th in the NFL.
  • Is it a good sign or a bad sign for the Redskins that rookie safety Baccari Rambo has already made 18 tackles? Good for the youngster for getting for the ball; bad for Washington that there are that many stops to be made in the defensive backfield.
  • In that same vein, the Redskins remain the only defense in the division without an interception. No team among the four intercepted a pass in this weekend.
  • However, the Cowboys were the only team in the division not to force a turnover. The other three teams managed to recover at least one fumble – the Eagles recovered two, but still managed to lose with a plus-two turnover margin.
  • More good news for Washington, Pro Bowl linebacker Ryan Kerrigan is off to a hot start with three sacks in two games. Kerrigan leads the division.
  • However, to this point, Dallas is the only squad in the NFC East with multiple multi-sack defenders. DeMarcus Ware, Bruce Carter and Jason Hatcher all have two sacks. The Giants have just two sacks as a team.
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