The NFL will release its 2014 schedule in a couple of weeks and there are already two dates that Eagles fans will circle on their calendars – the two days when their team plays Washington.
And how much do you want to bet one of them – probably the first one — will be televised in prime time?
This long-time rivalry got a lot spicier on Wednesday when wide receiver DeSean Jackson was hired by Washington just four days after he was fired by the Eagles. And, just like that, the NFC East got a lot more interesting.
We still don’t know exactly why the Eagles were so disenchanted with Jackson after he just had the best season of his career playing in Chip Kelly’s fast-break offense. And there’s a good chance we never really will, because Kelly and Eagles general manager Howie Roseman actually seem to enjoy not giving the media the information they and the fans want to know.
Now they have an even better reason not to diss Jackson – they’re going to have to deal with him twice a season. And now the Eagles’ defensive staff will find out what other staffs around the NFL already know – DeSean Jackson can really run fast, and nothing scares defensive coaches more than wide receivers who can really run fast. Jackson will already have a Washington Monument-sized chip on his shoulder when he faces the Eagles and his former coaches and teammates will be diplomatic when they talk about him and say only nice things.
Of course, the Eagles had hoped that Jackson would sign with, say, Oakland, where they would only have to play against him once every four years. And a team that’s really bad, like the Raiders, would keep Jackson’s profile low, which the Eagles also wouldn’t mind.
But as bad as Washington was last season, don’t forget it won the division the season before. And now quarterback Robert Griffin III will be completely healthy from the knee injury that hobbled him in 2013 and now Griffin has a shiny new toy to play with – a toy that can really run fast.
However, we’ll also find out if Jackson is as good as he looked last season or whether he was just a product of Kelly’s wide-open system. In the past, Jackson has had stretches where he was almost invisible and it was always debated whether it was his fault or the Eagles’. Now, perhaps we’ll find out.
Perhaps we’ll also find out if Jackson is the bad egg the Eagles apparently think he is. In fact, watching Jackson off the field might be as interesting as watching him on it. Will he learn a lesson from his experiences in Philadelphia? Will he be a better teammate and show up for meetings on time and stay after practice to watch film and not whine about his coaches or his contract? And how will he react during a dry spell, when RGIII is firing the ball over his head and the rabid Washington fans are booing him (Eagles fans aren’t the only ones who boo, you know)?
On the other hand, if Jackson is a good soldier all season and has a monster year – including a couple big games against the Eagles – and Washington ends up beating out the Eagles for the NFC East championship, then Roseman and Kelly will look awfully foolish, especially if they never tell us what really happened.
Contact Kevin Noonan at firstname.lastname@example.org.