Jeremy Maclin is a complex subject. He was drafted in the 1st round in 2009 and has been a starter in each season. Maclin has 26 TD catches in 59 career games. DeSean Jackson, who is clearly more explosive, has 32 TD catches in 87 games. Maclin is a good person off the field. Heck, everyone I’ve talked to raves about him as a person.
Maclin has some issues that make him a tough player to support at times. Allen Rodriguez wrote a piece for BGN on Maclin and why he struggles to cheer for Maclin, despite the fact he’s an Eagle. I don’t agree with every point that Allen makes in his post, but he does present his case well. There is a mixture of fact and opinion.
My biggest beef with Maclin is the lack of toughness he showed in 2012. If you watch Maclin from 2009-2011, he was a more physical, more aggressive player. Don’t get me wrong. You wouldn’t mistake him for Irving Fryar due to his blocking or how he worked the middle of the field, but the player we saw in 2012 was highly disappointing. The Eagles were in the midst of a nightmare season. That’s when you need your best players to man-up and play with great heart. Brent Celek had a problem with drops in 2012, but there was never a question of effort. He dragged defenders down the field just like he would in a season where games mattered and everything was on the line.
Maclin’s run blocking was atrocious. He failed to give adequate effort at times. There were times when he avoided contact when running with the ball after the catch. Maclin did have his good moments as well. He caught the winning TD vs the Bucs. He played very well in the rematch with the Skins and almost led the Eagles to an upset win.
The great unknown here is what effect Chip Kelly will have.
Kelly pushes his players. Good enough isn’t good enough. After the Lions game, Kelly had this to say.
“There were plays that LeSean made… LeSean made one big run. He could have had a 70‑yard run,” Kelly said. “He cut back to it and got tackled by Suh and the defensive linemen. If he had broken to his left, he might have had another one. Those are things we’re continuing to work on.”
Shady runs for 217 yards and Kelly is focused on the one long run that should have been even longer and a TD. That’s the kind of tough coaching that can push players to the next level.
DeSean Jackson had his best season in 2013. So did Shady. And Riley Cooper. And Nick Foles. Some of that had to do with opportunities, but don’t ignore how Kelly’s prodding helped the players.
Maclin has the tools to be a very good WR. He needs to be pushed. Maclin needs someone to get on him for his blocking. There is no excuse for a player his size not to be at least an adequate blocker. Maclin needs someone to get on him when it comes to running after the catch. Too often he heads for the sidelines or goes down voluntarily over the middle. Unacceptable. Don’t help the defense. Make them tackle you.
Coaching can make a difference. DeSean Jackson was more aggressive about going over the middle under Kelly. Maclin needs to do the exact same thing. The middle of the field is where most of the big plays are. Go outside and defenders can use the sideline to box you in. The great players work the middle of the field. They hope to outrun some tacklers, make some miss and break the occasional arm tackle.
The Eagles tried to sign Maclin to a long term deal this past offseason. They must think he showed enough last spring and summer that they’re confident he will play well in the new offense. I’m excited to see how productive he can be.
There is also the Nick Foles factor. Foles and Maclin played together for 6 starts in 2012. Maclin had a good 3-game stretch late in the year.
at Tampa … 9-104-1
vs Cincy … 4-73
vs Wash … 8-116-1
Those are good numbers for a veteran receiver working with a rookie QB. DeSean was hurt and missed those games. Defenses were able to do whatever they wanted to Maclin in terms of coverage, but he posted good numbers. The offense moved the ball and scored points (well, good yards/points for that team…not 2013 good).
Maclin is more receiver than athletic playmaker. He runs excellent routes. Give him an accurate QB that can anticipate plays and Maclin will be more effective than when improvising and trying for home runs. I remember watching the 2012 season opener. Maclin caught a TD pass in the game. I watched that over and over, and became increasingly frustrated. Maclin was wide open for the TD, but Vick took forever to find him and Mac almost ran out of the back of the end zone before the ball got there.
There are reasons to be excited about Maclin as we head into the new year, but let’s also be honest. He must be a more physical, aggressive player if he’s going to stay on the field for Chip Kelly. You either block or you sit. And Kelly will be all over Maclin the first time he avoids an open middle to run toward a crowded sideline.
Maclin has a great opportunity. This is the first time in his NFL career he’ll go into the season as “the guy”. All players have egos. I’m sure Mac would love to shine in his chance to be the primary receiver for a high-powered offense. Mac also is on a 1-year contract. A big season means a big deal, whether with the Eagles or some other team.
2014 will be the most important season of Jeremy Maclin’s career. He can play his ass off and make a lot of money or get ready to deal with more fans writing about what a frustrating player he is.
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Interesting video of Mac from 2011-12.