Eagles hold the hammer in the DJax drama…plus a look at a route tree…

Reading between the lines in a statement made by owner Jeff Lurie earlier last month, I think it’s more clear now that the Eagles are willing to get rid of DeSean Jackson. That doesn’t mean I want them to get rid of Peanut and his expensive contract-to-be… it just means I think the Eagles are willing and ready to part ways if necessary.

But Eagles GM Howie Roseman is putting a new spin on the drama in comments made at the Combine in Indianapolis last night…

Is Roseman encouraging new dialogue with Jackson and his agent, or is Roseman just saving face for the organization if and when the expected jettison of Jackson occurs?

Les Bowen at

“That was the upshot from general manager Howie Roseman’s comments to reporters yesterday at the NFL scouting combine. Roseman didn’t say the Birds definitely will franchise their game-changing wideout, and he didn’t say they will sign him to a long-term deal. But he spoke of intending to sit down with Jackson and agent Drew Rosenhaus, and Roseman envisioned a future in which Jackson is an Eagle.”

GM Howie Roseman says he is optimistic the Eagles can work out a way to keep DeSean Jackson on the team. The Eagles probably want to get a feel for exactly what Jackson’s attitude will be if they ask him to play under the $9.5 million wideout franchise tag this season. When the 2011 season ended, Jackson said this wouldn’t be a problem, but his comment in the postgame locker room was hardly signed and notarized. And the Birds are leery of what they think has happened in the past in protracted, convoluted negotiations – they think sometimes their proposals and the intent behind them lose something in the translation through the agent to the player. They want to say what they have to say to Jackson face to face.—source—Les Bowen.

Up until now, head coach Andy Reid and the front office have been careful not to comment on any negotiations with Jackson or what it will take to sign him, but it’s clear that the longer this impasse goes, the less likely it will be that Jackson remains in Philadelphia.

The most viable scenario would be an attempt to trade him after tagging him, assuming he signs the tender. Otherwise, he could walk without them getting anything in return other than what the league eventually awards each team in compensatory draft picks for free-agent losses.

Though Jackson possesses the kind of speed and game-changing ability that can’t easily be replaced, the Eagles seemingly have quite a bit of leverage, considering the draft and free-agent options available to them in the coming months.

A mother lode of receiving talent is out there, including potential free agents Vincent Jackson, Dwayne Bowe and Marques Colston and top college players Justin Blackmon of Oklahoma State, Michael Floyd of Notre Dame and Kendall Wright of Baylor.

Jackson is an enigma… When he hasn’t been distracted by his future earnings, which clearly influenced a dramatic drop in production during the final year of his rookie contract, he’s been sensational.

Already, he’s the Eagles’ all-time leader in punt-return touchdowns (four) and playoff punt-return yards (145). And he’s one of just five players in league history to surpass 900 receiving yards in each of his first four seasons. In 2009, he became the only player in league history to make the Pro Bowl at two positions (WR and PR).

GM Howie Roseman, speaking to reporters last week, said Jackson has a “bright future,” though never actually stating that it would be with the Eagles.

“I would welcome him back,” Lurie said last month. “If the right terms developed, he would be welcomed back. We have the leverage of, obviously, we can do what we choose to and control his situation.”

Oops, there it is ! …..

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Here’s some “continuing education” in the running of an NFL pass route, which is a needed brush-up for myself as I watch the receivers drill at the Combine this weekend.

Specifically, here’s a review of the “Tight End Pass Routes” used by the Eagles. (Notice I’m focusing on the tight ends again… getting a TE in my Mach 10 is going to be the secret weapon in my winning ballot this Spring!…)

Passing Tree Routes of the Philadelphia Eagles specific for Tight Ends:

Middle spot – Designed to be usually a 3rd read for the Quarterback. The most important coaching tip for this route is making sure you stop directly over the ball, 5-6 yards deep. Do not drift or slide until you make eye contact with the QB.

Drag – This is West Coast Offense terminology for a route run into the flat. A big mistake young players and even coaches make in utilizing this route, is that they bow or round the route. This only makes the Tight End easier to defend. The key coaching tip on this route is to pick a point on the near sideline about 3-5 yards past the line of scrimmage, and then run as straight as you can to that point.

Stick – A simple 5-yard out. This route can be run various ways depending on coverage, but in this case you will practice this route if you are in man coverage.

Coaching tips:

  • Get a good release off the ball;
  • At 4-6 yards past the line of scrimmage— stick, plant and break the route with your inside foot and then run away from the defender slightly downhill. You should expect to catch the ball 3-4 yards deep.

Middle Cross/Flanker Drive – Another name for a 10-12-yard “in” route.

Coaching Tips:

  • The release on this route should be outside if you have a defender playing head up.
  • Make the first 10 yards look like you are on a Go or Seam route. At 10-12 yards fake an outside break, then plant, break, and cut with your outside foot. Once you hit your break, run slightly downhill. You should expect to catch the ball 8-10 yards deep.

Option/Hook – This route is designed to take advantage of the leverage a defender will give you. If he is playing outside, you will break inside. If the defender is playing you with inside leverage, you will break the route outside.

Coaching Tip:

  • Make sure you widen the defender at least 2-4 yards during the initial 4-5 yards of your route. This will create separation and give the defender an opportunity to commit inside or outside leverage.

Deep Dig – The West Coast Offense uses this route in 3rd and long situations. The route is run similar to the Option/Hook, but at 13-15 yards past the line of scrimmage. Like the Option/Hook route, you must get width in your initial 5 yards to widen the defender.

Shallow Cross – An underneath route designed to take advantage of Linebackers and 1 on 1 coverage. Make sure you get a good release off the line of scrimmage. Initially angle your route until you get to 4 yards deep, at that point give a little head fake like you are going to go upfield, then break your route across the field. You will most likely expect to catch the ball where the opposite tackle will be.

Seam/Go – The foundation of all pass routes… The key is beating the man in front of you. Get a good release off the line of scrimmage and the first person to the 15-yard line wins!

Coaching Tip:

  • Make sure you widen the defender at least 2-4 yards during the initial 4-5 yards of your route. This will create separation from you and the Middle Linebacker and give you an opportunity to catch the ball between your man and the Free Safety. You will usually catch the ball 10-17 yards downfield.

Middle Cross/Flanker Drive (Middle Closed) – In some instances when a Tight End runs a Middle Cross the Middle Linebacker will pick you up in coverage. Rather than trying to beat him across the field after your break, run towards him a good 2-3 steps and turn back the direction you came and run an out route. An unstoppable play if read correctly by the receiver and QB.

Skinny Post – This play works magic against a cover 2. This play is run when the Safeties are jumping the Flag route.

Coaching Tips:

  • Make sure you widen the defender at least 2-4 yards during the initial 4-5 yards of your route. This will create separation from you and the Strong Side Linebacker, leaving room to run the Post.
  • At 10 to 12 yards past the line of scrimmage, take 1-2 steps like you are running a Flag, then cut, plant, break with your outside foot and run a Post. DO NOT RUN TOWARD THE SAFETY, he will light you up if you catch the ball. After your cut, stay in the inside shoulder of the defender. In some cases you may feel like you are running a Seam if the safeties are tight together.

China – This route is designed to take advantage of Linebackers that jump the Drag route. The mechanics of this route are the same as the Drag, but after 3-4 steps into the Drag, stop and come back to the QB. Do not reverse pivot or spin out of the route. You simply just have to step, plant, and cut.

Deep Middle – This route is designed to take advantage of the Middle Linebacker in the Tampa Cover 2.

Coaching Tips:

  • For the first 5-6 steps make this route look like a Shallow Cross…
  • Once you get to where the play side Offensive Guard would be, then break your route upfield, and then sit and break your route at 10-12 yards directly over the ball.

Seattle – This is the West Coast Version of the Flag Route. The only difference is the angle after the break. In a Flag, the Tight End will try to keep the route high towards the back corner pylon in the end zone. The Seattle route, however, is run flatter after the break to try to get under the Safety. In some cases, the route can almost look like a 10-yard out route.

Flag – Designed to expose Man or Cover 2 coverage… it is also known as a “Corner Route”…A flag or corner route is a pattern where the receiver runs up the field and then turns at approximately a 45-degree angle, heading away from the quarterback towards the sideline. Usually, this pass is used when the defensive back is playing towards the inside shoulder of the receiver, thus creating a one on one vertical matchup. The corner route is less likely to be intercepted when compared to the slant route, because it is thrown away from the middle of the field. The pass is used frequently in the West Coast offensive scheme, where quick, accurate throwing is key. The pass may also be used closer to the goal line in what is called a “fade”. The quarterback will lob the ball over a beaten defender to a wide receiver at the back corner of the end zone.

Coaching Tips:

  • Make your break at 10-12 yards. Do not break your route too early. Make the defender think you’re going on a “Go” route for a touchdown, then break into a “Flag”…
  • On your break, cut with your outside foot, take two steps like you are running a Post, then break it back into a Flag with your inside foot. After the break run towards the back corner pylon. Stay “skinny” and up field.


Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.