The Eagles’ position coaches remain mostly anonymous to the public, so one of wide receivers coach Bob Bicknell’s few encounters with attention last season came when cameras caught DeSean Jackson and Bicknell involved in a sideline spat during December’s loss to Minnesota.
Bicknell’s relationship with Jackson became even more scrutinized after Jackson was released in March with little explanation. In Bicknell’s first public comments since Jackson’s release, Bicknell said he had no issue with the former Eagles receiver.
“I feel like I had a great relationship with DeSean,” Bicknell said. “I really enjoyed being around him. I feel like we went through a really good year together. We moved on, and I don’t really think that much about it. But when it comes down to it, the kid did everything I asked him to do. He wasn’t late. He wasn’t disrespectful. He did the things we wanted him to do. We decided to move on, and that’s that.”
The moving on remains ambiguous, even if it’s been exhaustively explored. The Eagles’ stance is that they wanted to “reconfigure the wide receiver position.” The team re-signed Jeremy Maclin after he missed all of last season before adding Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff in the draft. They also released Jason Avant while re-signing Riley Cooper. So Maclin, Matthews, and Huff essentially replace Jackson and Avant on the depth chart.
“We made a decision to move on, and really from that point on, you say how are we going in the future?” Bicknell said. “You’re not sure what players you’re going to get and what you’re going to do, but for us, we’re a team that likes having bigger receivers. …We’re big in the run game with blocking, those kind of things. It was a decision to move on, and we moved with guys we were able to get.”
Bicknell was surprised that Matthews fell to the Eagles in the second round of the draft. He is also intrigued by Huff, who is a physical presence even at his size.
Neither Maclin nor Huff is particularly tall – Maclin is 6 feet, and Huff is 5-foot-11 – but Bicknell said size is not necessarily reflected in height. It’s also how their body is proportioned and how they play. Bicknell said both Maclin and Huff fit the playing style the Eagles desire.
The loss of Avant also hurts in the meeting room, where Avant’s voice carried significant weight. Maclin and Cooper are both veterans at this point, but Bicknell said the group has self starters who do not necessarily require a veteran like Avant guiding them.
“They know what their opportunity is, they’re excited about the opportunity, they’re helping each other,” Bicknell said. “Don’t get me wrong – Jason Avant is an outstanding human being, a great football player, had a great football career here. But I don’t know if it’s as big of a deal as what you might think.”