Sheil Kapadia spoke to Jeremy Maclin over the weekend at LeSean McCoy’s charity softball game. The subject of Maclin’s future came up. He is a free agent at the end of the year so the question is whether he’ll be an Eagle next year.
“This is the team and organization that drafted me. I don’t want to leave,” Maclin said. “But at the end of the day, that’s going to get brought up and come up when it’s time for it. All I can do is go out there and play ball, and I’m going to play to the best of my ability.”
What would Mike Florio read into that? Insert your own answer, with lots of conspiracy angles.
I think Mac is being straightforward. He does want to stay. If he gets solid money, this is a great city to live in and great organization to play for. Chip Kelly seems like an exciting coach to play for. A player could sure do a lot worse.
The Eagles are normally aggressive about getting young players re-signed. I think Mac is a guy they’re confused about. He has size, speed and skills. There are no character issues. His overall numbers are solid. Mac should be a guy the Eagles are dying to keep around.
I think there are two issues at hand. The first is toughness. From the first time we saw him on Special Teams, it was evident that Mac was not comfortable with 11 guys coming after him at full speed. Being a PR or KOR is hard. I’ll tell you right now that I couldn’t do it in a million years. I’m a wuss.
Last year Mac’s blocking ranged from non-existent to atrocious. Both are unacceptable from a 200-pound WR. This is purely a question of effort and toughness. If Danny Amendola can be a good run blocker, Jeremy Maclin sure as heck can. We also saw Mac shy from contact more than a few times. Some of you question when I bring this up. I am not asking Mac to turn into Earl Campbell and take on tackler after tackler. However, going down when players get within 3 yards of you and your team is losing and desperate for points is unacceptable. Torry Holt is the all-time king of going down to avoid contact, but he mastered it. Holt would go as far as possible and then slide. He turned it into an art form. Holt also willingly went over the middle on a regular basis. Mac’s first instinct is always to go for the sideline. He only heads to the middle when he’s got no choice.
Skill players have to pick and choose which battles to fight. They can’t sell out on every play, nor do I expect them to. Think of it this way. If Mac had played against the 2012 Eagles DBs, he’d have gone down when DRC and Nnamdi got near him. How many yards and/or TDs would that have saved us? You must take some chances and force DBs to make tackles. Most CBs don’t tackle well. By going down, you’re giving them the tackle. Make them earn it, at least from time to time.
The second issue is even harder to quantify. You could call this playing up to your potential. While Mac and Hakeem Nicks do have similar career stats, to me there is no question that Nicks is the guy who looks like a #1 receiver and can take over games. His big issue is staying healthy. I don’t think Mac has come close to reaching his full potential. To put this in Eagles terms, he’s closer to Calvin Williams than he is Terrell Owens. And he shouldn’t be.
Mac has big time potential. I don’t know that he’ll ever be an elite player, but I think there is still serious upside with him. I think Mac has needed a coach to really push him. That didn’t happen with Andy Reid. Both men let good enough be good enough. Kelly is going to push Mac a bit more. I’m real curious to see how this works out. Mac could respond well and thrive or he could look at Kelly as if he’s crazy. The key here is going to be how Mac views himself. Does he think he’s had a great career so far? Does he think he’s done all he can? If so, I don’t think he and Kelly are going to fit together like PBR and Funyuns.
If Mac is hungry and wants to be special…if he lets Kelly really push him and responds the right way, I think Mac could have a terrific season in 2013. If he shows Kelly and the Eagles that he can be special, they’ll gladly pay him serious money. This is all up to Mac.
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DeSean Jackson is in a contract year because of the way his deal was structured. Nate Allen is in a contract year. Mike Vick is in a contract year. Brandon Graham could earn a new deal if he plays well. DeMeco Ryans is an expensive vet who could eliminate any salary discussion if he plays well. And so on.
This is all up to the players. The Eagles are glad to pay out big bucks to players who deserve ‘em. I’m sure Howie Roseman would love a scenario where he’s got too many good players and has to get creative with the salary cap to keep as many as possible.
I think the presence of Kelly will provide a jolt to some players. The new staff and systems will help others. Unfortunately, we know that some players will struggle, whether due to injury, adjusting to the changes or just having an off year. A lot of seemingly big decisions take care of themselves.
Kelly likes to talk about how the depth chart takes care of itself. Players earn starting jobs and playing time. That sentiment will also be true with contracts, for the most part. Play well and you should get your money. As long as they’re healthy, the players control their own destiny.
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Jimmy Bama and I did a show last week. Forgot to link it here. We talked about the other 3 NFC East teams and how they have no chance to beat the juggernaut Eagles. That might be overstating things just a tad, but we did discuss the other NFCE teams. Good show. Always fun to keep up with the enemy.