DeSean Jackson Praises Pederson, Doesn't Dismiss Possible Eagles Reunion

Not once did DeSean Jackson utter the words "Chip Kelly" while speaking to reporters on Wednesday. He didn't need to.

Everybody knows who was behind the Eagles' releasing the three-time Pro Bowler in 2014.

"I never really had hard feelings toward Philadelphia, besides being released by whoever released me," Jackson said. "That's different — but I guess he's not there anymore."

No, he's not. Two years later, Kelly is still trying to establish himself as a successful NFL coach in San Francisco, while Jackson remains one of the game's preeminent deep threats with Washington.

Jackson could've taken the opportunity to declare a victory of sorts before the Eagles take the field in Washington this Sunday. Instead, he opted to take the high road.

"Things happen and we move on," Jackson said.

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To that end, it's interesting to note that Jackson is entering the final year of his contract with Washington, and the Eagles are still in need of a deep threat.

Could a reunion be in the works in 2017? Jackson wouldn't go that far, but didn't rule it out either, adding that he hopes to continue playing for quite a while.

"Being a contract year — next year I'll be a free agent — you never know how things will turn out, but whoever calls, I definitely think I'll be blessed to be wherever it is," Jackson said.

"Hopefully it will still be here in Washington and not have to really worry about that, but you never know how this industry, how this business turns out, so you keep your options open, playing it smart, doing what you need to do to keep a job in the NFL.

"I think I'm doing that, I think I'm still playing at a high level, I'm still running by guys, still fast and haven't lost a step. I still see myself playing another five, hopefully seven years in this game."

Jackson saw a lot of success under Andy Reid and clearly has respect for Doug Pederson.

"Happy to see Doug there," Jackson said. "I respect him when he was there with Coach (Andy) Reid, so it's just congratulating him on getting the job that I think he deserves.

"I definitely have respect for Doug, a good relationship with him as well, so it will be good to see him when we play Sunday."

It's been three years since Jackson and LeSean McCoy last played together. They combined for 3,480 yards of offense in their last year here, Kelly's first. 

The two former Eagles teammates remain friends and talk regularly.

"Every day," Jackson said of his communication with Shady. "He sent me a message this morning saying, ‘Man, we were awesome together.’ I’m like, yeah man, I miss playing with you, but you know, gotta live on, move on.

"He actually sent me a picture this morning when he scored a touchdown. We were both in Philadelphia, and it’s like, man, we miss those days. It’s unfortunate that things broke up the way they did, but I think everybody is still happy and doing what they need to do."

The Eagles never quite have been able to replace Jackson's speed, another potential opening for the wide receiver to get a shot in. Again, he didn't take the bait.

"I'm focused on my job here, trying to still play at a high level," Jackson said. "Whatever their struggles are, whatever they have, that's something they have to worry about there. I'm not there anymore, so I don't really get caught up in that.

"I'm happy where I'm at, I'm happy with what's going on and hopefully we can just finish strong and pull for something exciting here in these next couple weeks."

This is Jackson as he closes in on 30 years of age in December — introspective and self-aware. The player Kelly allegedly never wanted anything to do with for fear he would disrupt the chemistry inside the Eagles' locker room admits he had to mature and learn how to handle his business like a professional.

Jackson hasn't experienced some radical transformation though. While he and his girlfriend did welcome a son into the world last October, the 29-year-old insists his growth as a person is natural and normal of most any human being.

"I think that's with anything in life," Jackson said. "If you asked yourself in your business what you came from eight years ago to where you're at now, you would say a lot has changed and you learned a lot and you would probably do things a little different."

"I think that's just everyday life. You always want to become different and not stay the same person, so I think that's definitely a given."

One thing that hasn't changed with Jackson now in his ninth season is he's still every bit the big-play threat he's always been.

Through five games this season, Jackson has only 18 receptions for 278 yards and one touchdown, which is not the kind of production he's used to. Yet as Washington coach Jay Gruden explained, that isn't due to any decline in role or ability, adding that he's been "a pleasure to coach."

"He's right where he left off," Gruden said. "He's always had the speed, he still does. If you look at the Cleveland game where he had one catch for five yards, but he had two pass interferences that were 80 yards of offense, and we've missed a couple big, big, big-time opportunities to get him the ball down the field.

"His numbers aren't where he would like them to be or where we like them to be, but he still has that top-end speed that should scare defenses and he's put it on tape. We're going to try and get him more and more involved."

Pederson agrees with Gruden's assessment.

"He's still fast," Pederson said. "That's the thing you see on film. Just throw on his highlight reel and you're going to see the exact same receiver that we had here."

Despite being on pace for what some might consider a down year, Jackson isn't worrying about the numbers. He's working on continuing to build a rapport with Kirk Cousins and helping Washington improve upon its 3-2 record.

"As a wide receiver and as a guy that's known for doing some great things down the field, big plays and all that stuff, we need a little more of that added to our play right now because that's what we're missing," Jackson said.

"Once we connect on that part, we'll be in a lot better shape in these games instead of kind of struggling and barely winning the past couple games."

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