Saturday, October 10, 2015

Offense leans on DeSean; Celek's start

The Eagles' offense is leaning on DeSean Jackson even more than it did a year ago. Plus notes on Brent Celek's slow start.

Offense leans on DeSean; Celek's start

DeSean Jackson caught 5 balls for 153 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Jaguars. ( Ron Cortes / Staff Photograher )
DeSean Jackson caught 5 balls for 153 yards and a touchdown Sunday against the Jaguars. ( Ron Cortes / Staff Photograher )

Back in June, I detailed what specifically made DeSean Jackson's 2009 season so impressive.

Earlier today, I took a look at some numbers, mostly because I was curious about the Eagles' pass distribution through three games, compared to last season.

What I found was that Jackson's start to 2010 is even more impressive than his performance in '09, which is saying something. It's a small sample size, but let's take a look at the numbers.

I took overall targets, receptions and yards from last year and broke them down by percentage. Note that these are just the top six pass-catchers. No other player had more than 10 catches.

2009 % Targets % Receptions % Rec. Yards
Jackson 21.1% 18.5% 26.4%
Celek 20.2% 22.7% 22.2%
Maclin 16.5% 16.7% 17.6%
Avant 10.8% 12.2% 13.4%
McCoy 10.1% 11.9% 7.0%
Westbrook 6.1% 7.5% 4.1%

Not surprisingly, Jackson was the most-targeted receiver last year and also accounted for the highest percentage of receiving yards. Brent Celek accounted for the highest percentage of receptions and was second in both targets and receiving yards. Maclin was third in all three categories.

Now, here's a look at how it breaks down through three games this season:

2010 % Targets % Receptions % Rec. Yards
Jackson 26.3% 22.0% 41.1%
Celek 15.2% 15.3% 13.0%
Maclin 18.2% 18.6% 19.0%
Avant 13.1% 11.9% 9.6%
McCoy 13.1% 18.6% 8.0%
Schmitt 4.0% 6.8% 3.5%

Jackson is still the most-targeted receiver. He is also first in receptions and receiving yards. Take a look at that last column. Jackson's accounting for over 41 percent of the team's receiving yards through three games. Maclin is second in all categories, and Celek third.

And now the difference from last year to this year:

  Diff. in targets % Receptions % Rec. Yards
Jackson +5.2% +3.5% +14.7%
Celek -5.0% -7.4% -9.2%
Maclin +1.7% +1.9% +1.4%
Avant +2.3% -0.3% -3.8%
McCoy +3.0% +6.7% +1.0%
Schmitt N/A N/A N/A

Notice that Jackson is up in all three categories. He's accounting for 14.7 percent more of the team's receiving yards than he did in 2009. That's pretty astounding. There's no arguing that Jackson is an even bigger part of the offense through three games than he was a year ago.

Maclin is up in all three categories too, but only slightly.

And, obviously, Celek is down. Last year, Celek averaged 7 targets per game. This year, he's averaging 5 targets per game. In other words, he's getting two fewer opportunities per game to make a play. Celek has nine catches for 101 yards and is averaging 11.2 yards per catch. The yards per catch is not much different than last year when he averaged 12.8 yards.

Is it time to panic with Celek? I don't think so. I think he'll get his opportunities to make plays (assuming he can stay healthy), especially when some of the better defenses pay more attention to Jackson.

But take a look at Jackson's start. The numbers above speak for themselves. The other thing that stood out for me, though, is yards per catch. Jackson is averaging 24.5 yards per catch, second-most in the NFL. Last season, he averaged 18.6 yards per catch, which also ranked second.

In '09, Jackson had 18 catches of 20 yards or more. Only four receivers had more. This year, he already has six. Only Denver's Brandon Lloyd has more.

The point? This is still a big-play offense that relies heavily on Jackson - so far, even more than it did a year ago. It will be interesting to see how these splits change in the coming weeks, but so far Jackson is on pace to make another giant leap in his third season.

Earlier today, I posted Man Up on the defense, focusing on the outstanding play from the defensive line.

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Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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