Don’t Forget About Malik Jackson: 2020 Outlook
What we didn’t know at the beginning of the 2019-20 Eagles season was that the injury bug would infect them just 32 snaps into the year.
During the 2019 off-season the Eagles signed what seemed like the perfect partner in crime to All-Pro Fletcher Cox. After being released for cap space, ex-Jaguar Malik Jackson was signed to a 3 yr / $30 million deal.
Jackson missed close to the entire 2019 season with a Lisfranc injury in his foot. This is a rare fracture that causes one or more of the metatarsal bones to become displaced. The recovery time from this injury ranges anywhere between six to twelve weeks depending on the success of rehabilitation after surgery.
Before his season ending injury in 2019, Jackson had played in 110 of 112 possible games throughout his career (98.2%). He helped anchor the 2018 Jacksonville defensive line that ranked 4th in the NFL in the run game, and he was a top tier run stopper and pass rusher.
However, Jackson’s most impressive individual season with the Jaguars came in 2017 when he finished with 30 solo tackles which ranked him as the 12th DT in the NFL. He also had the 5th most sacks for a DT finishing with 8.0 sacks.
Jackson posted these impressive numbers while sharing interior defensive line responsibilities with Abry Jones, who finished with just 24 solo tackles and 1.0 sack.
So, just imagine Malik Jackson’s production when set beside the likes of Fletcher Cox and Javon Hargrave, two of the league’s premier run stopping and pass rushing interior defensive linemen. Jim Schwartz tends to play to his team’s strengths, so we could even see an odd man front featuring the three of them at the same time. Hargrave is naturally a nose tackle and is quite comfortable playing a zero or inner one technique, so Jackson and Cox would be the wide set tackles.
Not only will this take the pressure off of a young and less talented line-backing group, but providing a better pass rush could be the answer to the Eagles’ recent secondary troubles. There is a direct correlation between the 2018/2019 coverage woes and the decrease in a productive pass rush.
The Eagles’ rush hasn’t been itself since the 2017 Super Bowl run, and Malik Jackson could be a real answer to the their recent struggle. 2019 was the first season since his rookie year in 2012 that he had missed a game, so constant injury issues aren’t a worry to Jackson.
In a recent interview with Dave Zangaro of NBC Sports Philly, Jackson said when talking about the freak accident, “It does suck, but it’s an eye-opening experience. Something you have to go through. You think you’re invincible because you go through every season and then this happens.”
It was likely hard for Jackson to feel like he was a true part of the team being that he was mostly rehabbing and away from practice during his first year stint in Philadelphia. Malik said, “On a personal level, I got to know Cox real well. Now I just want to go out there and play football with him.”
Look for a motivated and humbled Jackson to return hungry to prove that he can get back to his former self. The new and improved Eagles defense will allow him to be put in a position to excel, and we shouldn’t be more excited as Eagles fans.
Check out this recent interview between Adam Lefkoe and Jackson where Malik speaks on the signing of Javon Hargrave and his 2020 season outlook:
When the Eagles signed Javon Hargrave, Howie Roseman called @TheMalikJackson ?
“The 49ers got to the Super Bowl with their D-Line…and that’s what we want to do.” ?
— Adam Lefkoe (@AdamLefkoe) May 28, 2020