HE REMINDS you of an exotic sports car: sleek, exciting, incredibly fun to have but heartbreakingly unreliable and obscenely expensive.
DeSean Jackson is a luxury item, a finishing piece; a Bugatti in cleats. He always has been. He always will be, ever more so the older he gets.
With little else to do as the Eagles' season devolves, local press and national pundits have spent the past few weeks pondering the prudence of Jackson's possible return to Philadelphia when he becomes a free agent after this season. Jackson himself has told anyone who will listen that, for the right price, he would welcome a return.
"We'll see what happens," Jackson said after Washington won in Philadelphia on Sunday.
Such a return might salve the wounds Chip Kelly opened when, in the winter of 2014, he made Jackson the first of the three-star exodus that landed Jackson in Washington, LeSean McCoy in Buffalo and Jeremy Maclin in Kansas City. Each did well in his new home. Kelly, meanwhile, was fired last year in Philadelphia and he has won one game with his dysfunctional 49ers.
Jackson gave Eagles fans a test drive Sunday. They never booed him, which Jackson called "interesting," and they seemed like interested buyers.
He caught an 80-yard touchdown bomb, and had to limbo at full speed for the over-the-head catch. He is, simply, the best deep-ball threat of his era; the best since Randy Moss.
He caught a 21-yard toe-tapper on the sideline.
He drew a 24-yard pass interference penalty.
He finished with just three catches, but they went for 102 yards. He also cleared incalculable amounts of space for other receivers, as he always does.
He moved to 4-1 against the Eagles since he left. In three of those five games, he gained more than 100 receiving yards.
"I wish I could do it every game if you ask me," Jackson said.
He's not the only one.
He has missed eight games in three seasons and he has caught more than six passes in a game just once since he left Philadelphia. He now has 10 games with at least 100 receiving yards in the past three seasons but only three in the past two seasons, and he has fewer than 50 yards in 19 of his 38 games with Washington (counting playoffs). Is a guy who disappears half the time worth the $6 million per year Washington has paid him?
Perhaps. Perhaps he's worth even more as the finishing piece on the right team.
How could anyone consider the Eagles the right team? It has a deteriorating offensive line, no No. 1 receiver, no No. 1 running back and a rookie head coach and quarterback.
As ever, Jackson is confident he would be more productive if he was targeted more: "I've got that same question. My job is running fast and catching balls."
Well, no, not exactly. His job is also blocking, which he continues to ignore, and running precise routes, which is exactly what he did not do when Leodis McKelvin intercepted Kirk Cousins when Jackson ran a soft out pattern.
But you take the bad with the good, and, sometimes, he can be very, very good; 80-yard-bomb good.
Jackson started on Cousins' right, slanted gently inside of McKelvin and exploded toward the post. Cousins' throw was slightly short and drifted back toward the sideline. Jackson, an elite outfielder in high school, tracked the ball over his left shoulder, across his body and caught it as softly as a baby thrown from a burning building.
"He's a good player. Made a good play," McKelvin said.
"They were playing . . . two high safeties and the corners kind of off," Jackson explained. "We knew we were going to get that coverage. Kirk threw out the ball, and I had to adjust to it a little bit."
He adjusted to it like Willie Mays; or, in the current vernacular, Mike Trout.
Mays and Trout were astoundingly consistent and astonishingly durable; Porsches of their sport, if you will.
Jackson's a bright, shiny Jag.
@inkstainedretch Blog: ph.ly/DNL