Mac Attack

Posted: July 16th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 20 Comments »

Trying to figure out Jeremy Maclin can be tough.  He doesn’t have blazing speed.  He doesn’t have great hands.  There isn’t anything dynamic about him.  He’s pretty good at most things, but isn’t special.

He did lead the Eagles WRs in catches and TDs in each of the last 2 seasons.  That may not sound like a huge deal, but consider that last year he had no preseason games due to his illness.  He then got hurt vs Arizona and played only half the game.  He sat out the next 3 weeks.  All that and he still was 63-859-5 compared to DeSean’s 58-961-4.

There was a stretch early in the season when Mac caught 36 passes in 5 games.  That pace would put you at 115 catches for the season.  The Eagles only went 1-4 in those games.  That was when the defense was a mess (insert joke here).  Still, only one of those games involved a situation where we fell way behind and had to go crazy with the passing (BUF game).

To put the 36 catches in perspective, think about the fact that DeSean only caught 47 passes in all of the 2010 season.  I know, they’re different players and comparing numbers is very tricky, but you still have to be impressed by 36 catches over 5 games compared to 47 over 14.

Mac showed a lot of promise in 2010.  He had 10 TD catches that year, including 7 in the Red Zone.  2011 was a step backward, although it is hardly his fault.  The situation with the mystery illness kept him in the doctor’s office and off the practice field.  The fact that Mac was able to start 13 games and lead the wideouts in catches and TDs is pretty darn impressive.

What can we expect from Mac in 2012?  Mac made a good leap from his rookie year to 2010.  He was a player on the rise.  2011 threw that off track, but it doesn’t mean he can’t get right back into that career arc.

2009 – 55-762 (13.9) – 4 TDs
2010 – 70-964 (13.8) – 10 TDs
2011 – 63-859 (13.6) – 5 TDs

Maybe this year he goes 80-1100-8 TDs.  Those would be good numbers.

I think Mac is still scratching the surface of his potential.  He’s just 24 years old (in May).  While he doesn’t have DeSean’s electric speed, Mac runs very well.  He’s fast enough to get by some CBs for the deep ball.  Mac has good hands.  He’ll drop passes from time to time (the Falcons game), but he’s at least average in this area, if not above average.

Mac is the best route runner on the Eagles.  He runs crisp routes and gets to the right spot at the right time.  He has good body control.  This allows him to make sharp cuts and keep his balance.

Mac has okay size at 6-0, 200.  He’s reportedly added a couple of pounds so maybe he’s up to 205 this year.  I’m hoping that’s true.  Mac has natural strength.  He’s not built like Anquan Boldin to be sure, but he’s also not tiny.  Maybe my biggest issue with Mac is that he needs to play bigger and stronger.  He showed great RAC ability at Missouri.  We’ve only seen hints of that in the NFL.  The WR screen for a long TD in the Falcons game was probably the best moment.

Too often, Mac catches the ball and goes to the outside, sometimes heading for the sideline.  I have no issue with him not wanting extra hits.  I am bothered by the lack of times he uses the middle of the field.  That’s where you get a lot of big plays.  When he does run, Mac is more of a finesse guy.  He’s got the size and strength to break some tackles, but rarely does.

I’m hoping this changes as he gets older.  The NFL has a way of changing players.  They grow from college kids to NFL men.  Some toughen up and become more physical players.  I don’t need Mac to be Anquan Boldin, but right now he’s too much of a Fred Barnett type and that’s not ideal in the WCO, even our version of it.

I’d be ecstatic with Maclin if he did a better job over the middle of the field and got back to his RZ production from 2010.  Then he and DeSean would be the perfect complements to each other.  Both guys can’t stretch the field and work the edges.  We need one to do that and the other to be better on crossing and intermediate routes.  Since DeSean has explosive speed, he’s the field stretcher.  That means Mac needs to embrace his role.  Toughen up and show us what you can do.

The Eagles have to be curious about Mac from a contract standpoint.  He’s the kind of young, ascending player you want to keep, but how much do you pay him?  The guy from 2010 showed big potential.  The guy from 2011?  Not so much.  A big 2012 season will boost his price.  A mediocre season might mean the Eagles start looking for another WR next April.

I get the sense that Mac is a driven guy who wants to show how good he can be.  I think he’ll embrace the challenge and have a good year.

* * * * *

Will the Eagles keep 5 or 6 WRs?  I think I’ve written about this before, but the bottom line is that nothing is written in stone.  This is up to the players.  We know DeSean, Mac, and Jason Avant will be here.

Riley Cooper, Marvin McNutt, Chad Hall, Damaris Johnson, Ron Johnson, and Mardy Gilyard will battle it out for 2 or 3 jobs.  The Eagles would love all these guys to play well and force the team to keep 3.  It really is up to the players.  The team won’t keep 6 WRs for the heck of it.  There have to be 6 that deserve to stick around.

* * * * *

I know some of you guys are big into Football Outsiders.  That’s just not my cup of tea.  Go here to read some of Brian Solomon’s thoughts on the new FOA and what they had to say about the Eagles.  Some good nuggets.

* * * * *

Jimmy Bama has a good post up on the age of OLs around the league.  The Eagles have a unique situation.  Not the youngest bunch, but lots of tread left on the tires, so to speak.


20 Comments on “Mac Attack”

  1. 1 ACViking said at 1:08 PM on July 16th, 2012:


    You wrote: “Trying to figure out Jeremy Maclin can be tough. He doesn’t have
    blazing speed. He doesn’t have great hands. There isn’t anything
    dynamic about him. He’s pretty good at most things, but isn’t special.”

    QUESTION: With that scouting report, how was Maclin pegged as going as high as No. 7 to the Oakland Raiders in the 2009 draft? [Raiders took WR Darrius Heyward-Bey from Maryland.]

    Based on your assessment, did Maclin merit being a 1st-round selection?

    Finally, if you had a do-over, would you recommend Nicks over Maclin?

    Relatedly, what was it about Nicks that had him rated behind Maclin?

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 1:31 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    He looked faster in college. He was a dynamic player at that level. His ability as a RS was incredible. It still shocks me that he’s so mediocre in that role.

    Choosing between Mac and Nicks right now…I’d probably go Nicks.

    After the 2012 season, I might feel differently. Still haven’t seen Mac at his best. Nicks has been able to progress from one season to the next.

    Big difference in them coming out of college was speed. Nicks was a possession receiver, Mac a playmaker.

  3. 3 dislikedisqus said at 1:12 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    I suspect Bobby April makes the final call on the 6th Wr, who will be mainly an ST player.

  4. 4 TommyLawlor said at 1:32 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    He’ll have a lot of impact on that decision for sure.

  5. 5 austinfan said at 1:25 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Maclin reminds me of Torry Holt. Holt only had 4.44 speed, similar to Maclin, was actually smaller (6’0 191) and played when you could mug WRs. The key to Holt’s success was route running and deceptive speed. Maclin’s scouting report reads a lot like Holt, deceptive speed, good route runners, soft hands, work ethic, . . . I think Maclin would have broke out last year if it wasn’t for the cancer scare, and he’s worked hard this offseason. Watch out, NFL.

    I don’t take FO or PFF as gospel, but both provide useful information. The fact that Bell rarely misses blocks doesn’t surprise me, he has the athleticism to be a top pass blocker (not strong enough to be a great in-line blocker, but on the second level, he may become almost as good as Peters). And he’s perfect for Mudd, but his durability issues do worry me. Happy they resigned Dunlap, who I think could be a passable LT if needed.

    Cooper gets no respect, but his 3 starts with VY at QB were better than the best three starts by Dez Bryant last year. He’s a solid ST player and a guy who has shown he can step in and be a credible starter outside, but I don’t think he has the skills to replace Avant inside. That’s where McNutt has the opportunity to stick as the 5th WR, if he shows he can be the replacement for Avant down the road and a better red zone target. Any other WR will have to win a job as a return man.

  6. 6 Anders said at 1:30 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    I really hope Maclin becomes more tough, because he got the perfect skill set to be a dynamic slot receiver in the mold of Cruz, Colston and Nelson

  7. 7 TommyLawlor said at 4:40 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Interesting comparison with Mac & Torry Holt. Holt was better, but also thrived with Kurt Warner getting him the ball in precise locations. That let Holt take advantage of his RAC skills.

    Really interested to see what Mac does this year.

  8. 8 ChaosOnion said at 2:30 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Maclin, Celek and McCoy led the Eagles in receiving red zone TDs this past season, with 4, 4 and 3 respectively. McCoy had an incredible 14 rushing red zone TDs. Call me one of those numbers / stats guys, Tommy, but it would be amazing (to the point of being highly improbable) for McCoy to repeat that performance.

    The Eagles need more efficiency in the red zone. With the unlikely nature of McCoy repeating his red zone rushing performance, the most important contribution Maclin could make this season is to better his 2010 red zone performance.

  9. 9 A_T_G said at 7:42 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    It is even more so when you consider, what, 2 (?) of mcCoy’s were shovel passes, basically running plays everywhere except the stats.

  10. 10 Noah_Becker said at 2:35 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    I think Maclin’s already pretty close to special. He’s one of 23 guys, post-merger, to catch 180 passes and average over 13.5 YPC, through their first 3 seasons ( here’s the list: )

    For Maclin to put up the numbers you suggest as good numbers (80-1100-8), he could likely change nothing, but receive 123 targets (assuming he maintains last year’s 65% catch rate, career ~10% TD/catch rate and career 13.8 YPC). I’d suggest that wouldn’t be progress and would more likely mean one of the other offensive players we have high hopes for falters.

  11. 11 TommyLawlor said at 4:43 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    I don’t question his production. I use the word “special” in regard to actual physical skills and/or ability.

    Mac playing all 16 games and being consistently productive would be a good thing. Don’t overlook durability when assessing players.

    DeSean will be the playmaker. Mac needs to help us move the chains and set up the big plays. Also, coming up big in the RZ is crucial.

  12. 12 Mac said at 4:45 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    And Maclin gives us the safety net of a DeSean injury on the big plays (see 2010 Falcon’s game).

  13. 13 Mac said at 4:44 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    I really can’t see how anyone can be “down” on Maclin. The only negatives I saw were the two fairly critical dropped passes.

    Unlike others, I don’t have a problem with him getting the ball in traffic and hitting the turf. I think he picked up this behavior by watching DeSean’s self-preservation act, but what do I know. I would rather have a healthy Maclin than a few good RACs followed by losing him for the season (if I had to choose between the two). But then again, maybe WRs don’t get hurt on RAC but more on poorly placed balls. Is there a stat for that?

  14. 14 Skeptic_Eagle said at 5:29 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    nice critique of Maclin’s game. I agree with most of it. His illness really put a damper on his production last season–hot off the starting line, but out of gas down the stretch. I agree that Maclin hasn’t been a tackle-breaker in the NFL, but I have seen some competitive fire from him–certainly the most amongst the receiving corps.

    I really hate those big, memorable drops, though. I hope they aren’t as memorable in his mind, because Desean’s already our boom or bust guy, Maclin needs to be the dependable one.

    With a roster mostly set, this 5th/6th WR battle will be one of the more intriguing ones. I’m hoping they have Cooper vs. McNutt for the #5 and give the edge to the player with return specialist ability as the #6. Desean runs backward too often, and the highest compliment you can pay to Dion Lewis’ return skills is that he was competent. I know B. Boykin’s got some ability, but I’d like too see a guy like Damaris Johnson add another dimension of danger on ST’s. NO CHAD HALL!

  15. 15 D3FB said at 1:39 AM on July 17th, 2012:

    Who are you considering the #4 in this situation?

  16. 16 Skeptic_Eagle said at 11:49 AM on July 17th, 2012:

    Oh, whoops, made a mistake there in the post above. I guess I meant to say that the 4th WR should be between Cooper/McNutt at #5 should be a D.Johnson/RS-type. Unless that Elvis Alpaca guy is really good, I don’t see a lot of cause to keep a 6th receiver. If McNutt can’t beat out Cooper for the RZ Specialist/Big WR job, I doubt he’d be snatched up before he hit the PS.

    I’m hoping the proliferation of multiple TE sets intrigues the Eagles. I’d like to see LJ Harbor take the next step as a reliable #2 TE/H-Back, and Chase Ford recreate some of what he was able to do at E/W Shrine week, where he was one of the more talked about prospects during practices.

  17. 17 Matthew Verhoog said at 10:45 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Maclin does this thing, often near the goal line, were for just half a moment looks like he is lost, and then he changes direction and he is open.
    As a punt returner he does the same thing, except then he gets tackled.

  18. 18 wee2424 said at 11:48 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Noticed the same thing at the goal line, he normally incorporates a nice stutter step in it.

  19. 19 wee2424 said at 11:32 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Think the D. Robinson hit put something in Mac’s head? I always thought it put something in Jackson’s head. However I do think that Mac will have a big year, but a lot of that does come down to Vick also.

  20. 20 wee2424 said at 11:45 PM on July 16th, 2012:

    Wouldn’t let me edit my previous comment, bit one thing I do love about Mac is his fiestiness. There were a couple of ganes where I remember him and the DB looked as though they were about to duke it out and Mac had to be pulled away by a teammate. Love that in a player, Esspecially a WR.