DeSean Jackson has been down this road before -- stuck in the middle of a brewing quarterback controversy.
The Eagles wide receiver said that he supports Michael Vick and that he thinks he is still an elite quarterback, but Jackson also had a very optimistic take on the Nick Foles that few have seen since the preseason. Andy Reid closed practice to the media after the opener and the rookie has been working as the scout team quarterback.
“Nick’s going to be a good quarterback," Jackson said this morning during a telephone interview with The Inquirer. "He does a great job at practicing with us when he goes against the first team defense, so that could actually prepare him if we had to [play him]."
There may not be an if if Andy Reid decides sometime in the very near future -- like today -- to bench Vick in favor of Foles. As of Monday, Vick was still the Eagles starting quarterback and neither player had been told of a change, according to sources close to the situation.
But Reid, as he has done for most of the season, said Sunday, following a 30-17 loss to the Falcons, that he was going to evaluate the position after watching film of the game. The unknown variable in Reid's evaluation is how Foles has been progressing.
"As far as games, I think he’s able to do it," Jackson said of Foles. "I think the sky’s the limit for him. He’s a talented player. He just hasn’t really gotten that opportunity, as far as this season. We’ll just see how it goes."
It should be noted that Jackson once gave a similar response -- "the sky's the limit" -- when asked about the budding Kevin Kolb as he sat behind Donovan McNabb.
Jackson spent this morning plugging his experience with Nike+Kinect Training, a personalized workout program that allows the individual to train like a professional athlete. He recently did a commercial for the product and said that he uses the program on his Xbox during off days.
Despite the 3-4 Eagles' struggles this season, Jackson is on pace to put up career numbers in receptions and receiving yards. He leads the team with 34 catches for 524 yards, although he has only one touchdown on the season.
The Eagles are scoring a little over 17 points a game. Despite the offense's woes, Jackson said that the 32-year-old Vick can still get the job done.
“Honestly, I still feel like he’s an elite quarterback in this league," Jackson said. "He’s still able to make the throws, make the runs. I just think he has to be himself and play how he knows how to play. He’s been doing this for a long time. As long as he can stay healthy and continue to do what he needs to do and be a higher player in this league, I think he still has a couple years left.”
In a separate interview with NFL Network, Jackson said that he didn't think Vick was "as comfortable as he usually is" running the offense.
Opposing defenses have taken away the deep ball, which has hindered Vick, Jackson and the offense. But the injuries on the line and the consistency of the replacements has also forced the Eagles to take fewer chances downfield and have Vick make quicker throws.
“This is the NFL, the next man has to step up and do the job," Jackson said. "As far as the line, I don’t think anything is that much different. I think they’re still approaching everything the same way. Everybody is trying to do the best they can and protect Vick and not let him get hit. As you can see, it doesn’t always work out that way.”
The Eagles travel to New Orleans to face the 2-6 Saints on Monday night. Their next eight opponents have losing records. Jackson said there is still time for the Eagles to turn things around and make the playoffs.
“Yeah, I still think they’re a reality," Jackson said. "We’re second in the division behind New York. I think as long as we do well in our division. We beat New York and we get to play them again. As long as we handle that we’ll be just fine.”