Saturday, December 20, 2014

Love/Hate for Jackson and Reid

Andy Reid consoles DeSean Jackson on the sidelines during a game against the Buffalo Bills. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Andy Reid consoles DeSean Jackson on the sidelines during a game against the Buffalo Bills. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer)
Andy Reid consoles DeSean Jackson on the sidelines during a game against the Buffalo Bills. (Steven M. Falk/Staff Photographer) Gallery: Love/Hate for Jackson and Reid

I'm not exactly sure what to make of the Eagles' relationship with receiver DeSean Jackson.

One week, coach Andy Reid is suspending Jackson for a critical game because he was late for a special-teams meeting, and the next, he is congratulating him for his performance against the New York Giants.

Now, to be fair, Reid set up the story line for the NFL Network's coverage of Thursday night's game in Seattle by benching Jackson for the final quarter of the previous game against the New England Patriots.

If you're the NFL Network and you have two 4-7 teams, you're looking for a story line that will hold interest that the game will not.

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  • Jackson, the talented receiver who has made no secret that he is disgruntled that the Eagles have not given him a new contract, was an obvious choice.

    In two of the previous three games, there were significant incidents that would lead one to believe that Reid has had it up to his neck with Jackson's actions.

    If you're the NFL Network, whom will your cameras be focused on - particularly when the starting quarterbacks are Tarvaris Jackson and Vince Young?

    If the Eagles are trying to set the stage for Jackson to be moved out of town, the NFL Network narrative would fit. But it seems that Reid was not happy with the way the NFL Network framed some of Jackson's actions during the Eagles' 31-14 loss to Seattle.

    In fact, "Big Red" was so annoyed, he called out the league's broadcast channel.

    "I was very disappointed with the NFL Network," Reid said at his day-after-game news conference. "I was disappointed in the way that they portrayed DeSean.

    "DeSean was all in during that game. He had a great attitude during that game."

    Another thing Reid took offense to was the NFL Network reporting from the sidelines that Jackson was not talking with his teammates.

    In one instance in the broadcast, the NFL Network showed Young seemingly talking with an inattentive Jackson. But later it was contended that Young was actually conversing with receiver Riley Cooper and that Jackson just happened to be sitting with them.

    Reid said he had been informed of the NFL Network's position by the Eagles' public-relations staff on the flight back from Seattle.

    After reviewing the footage, Reid felt the need to set the record straight.

    "You can take a camera and you can make anything look any way you want it to look," Reid said. "[Jackson] was all in [against Seattle].

    "I was proud of him for that."

    The network defended its coverage.

    "The broadcast team commented on what they saw on the field [Thursday] night, as they do for all game telecasts," said an NFL Network spokesperson.

    Here's what I don't get with Reid and the Eagles' approach to Jackson.

    Why chastise him 1 week and then jump to his defense the next?

    Do you want the guy here or not?

    Make a call one way or the other and be done with this.

    The Eagles know what they have in Jackson, good and bad.

    They knew a long time ago that this contract issue would be the sort of thing that would linger this season.

    They knew that even though Jackson played the good soldier for a while after he returned from his holdout, it was only a matter of time before bad things started to creep in.

    And the Eagles knew that as soon as one of the most dynamic players in the NFL began showing signs of discontent over his money, or lack of it, it would become a national story.

    What the NFL Network did coming into Thursday night's broadcast was completely appropriate, given the circumstances surrounding Jackson.

    It was disingenuous for Reid to be irritated after the fact because the Eagles laid down the foundation for everything that happened.

    If you bench a star player, a lot of attention will be focused on that player.

    Things that happen will be open to interpretation.

    "There was absolutely nothing there," Reid said of the NFL Network's report from the sideline that Jackson would not engage with his teammates. "I'm not sure that they know who is talking to who and what the conversations are about.

    "Not knowing the language, I don't know how you would know those things. This is all petty stuff. I'm telling you that the kid was all in for the game and had a great attitude.

    "There was nothing on the sideline. There was no commotion with [Jackson and Young]. There was nothing there."

    But there is something there with Jackson. Everybody knows it because he's told them as much.

    This was the road the Eagles took when they decided to let Jackson play without giving him a new contract.

    They can't get all offended when the story line flows in that direction.


    Send email to smallwj@phillynews.com. For recent columns, go to www.philly.com/Smallwood.

    John Smallwood Daily News Sports Columnist
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