Monday, July 6, 2015

Replacing DeSean Jackson's explosive plays will be nearly impossible for the 2014 Eagles

In 2013, the Eagles had one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the NFL. That is not an exaggeration.

Replacing DeSean Jackson's explosive plays will be nearly impossible for the 2014 Eagles

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DeSean Jackson could be tough to replace. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)
DeSean Jackson could be tough to replace. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

In 2013, the Eagles had one of the most explosive offenses in the history of the NFL. That is not an exaggeration.

Their most explosive player on offense was DeSean Jackson. We'll come back to DeSean momentarily.

While the Eagles have been recognized nationally for being a high-powered offense, they were overshadowed by Peyton Manning and the 2013 Broncos, who scored 20 more TDs (71) during the regular season than any other team in the NFL.

The Eagles were 2nd, with 51.

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While the Eagles scored a lot, it was the way in which they did it that made them the extremely explosive offense they were in 2013. For example, last season, the Eagles had 99 plays of 20+ yards during the regular season, for an average of 6.19 "explosive plays" per game. That is the most in the NFL since the league began tracking plays of 20+ yards back in 1991. They had 22 more 20+ yard plays than the next closest team, which was the Broncos.

The 2013 Eagles also scored incredibly quickly because of their up-tempo offense, but their scoring speed was also due in large part to the abnormally high number of 20+ yard plays shown above. On average, Eagles TD drives were just 2:08 in duration. They were, by far, the fastest scoring team in the NFL in 2013.

 

Unsurprisingly, the Eagles also had the most scoring drives that took two minutes or less. In fact, 52.9% of the Eagles' 51 offensive scoring drives took two minutes or less to get into the end zone. Again, that led the league.

The biggest producer of big plays for the Eagles last season, as noted above, was DeSean Jackson, who had more than a quarter of the Eagles' 99 plays of 20+ yards in 2013. Here's who had the Eagles' plays of 20+ yards last season.

Jackson was also 2nd in the entire NFL in receptions of 20+ yards in 2013, behind only the Browns' Josh Gordon.

As a side note, Jackson also had the misfortune of having three huge plays wiped out by penalties.

To put into context how important those 20+ yard plays from DeSean Jackson were to the Eagles last season, here's a list of all them in chronological order (including the playoffs), and the result of each drive in which Jackson had a reception of 20+ yards.

If you'll note, including the playoffs, all 26 of DeSean Jackson's receptions of 20+ yards led to at least a FG attempt. On drives in which Jackson had a 20+ yard reception, the Eagles eventually scored 17 touchdowns, kicked 7 field goals, and missed 2 field goal attempts, for a total of 141 points. In other words, the Eagles scored 30.3% of their total points last season on drives in which DeSean Jackson made an explosive play. All he does is catch long passes that lead to touchdowns.

Ever since he was cut, coping without DeSean Jackson has been framed in terms of replacing his 82 catches, 1332 yards, and 9 TDs. That may be replaced by another player or a combination of players in time, but there isn't a receiving weapon on the roster, as currently constructed, who can come close to matching Jackson's explosiveness.

The Eagles will probably still be an explosive offense once again in 2013, but without their most explosive offensive weapon in 2014, I wouldn't count on them scoring as quickly or as easily as it seemed at times last season.

Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski

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