Now that fans are used to the fact that DeSean Jackson isn’t wearing midnight green anymore, there’s a lot less hand-wringing over how the league’s No. 2 offense will go on without its leading receiver. Initially, however, there was mass hysteria. How on earth did the Eagles expect to replace a 27-year-old, three-time Pro Bowler?
The full answer has multiple layers, but the simplest explanation is Jeremy Maclin.
People seem to forget Maclin was a first-round pick in the 2009 draft, arguably a top-10 talent. And while he has yet to produce a 1,000-yard receiving season in the NFL, there is reason to believe the best is yet to come for Maclin.
After all, almost every skill player in the Eagles offense enjoyed career years in season one under head coach Chip Kelly, including Jackson. It stands to reason Maclin, who’s only 26, stands to benefit as much as anybody else—especially now that he’ll be the No. 1 option in the Birds' passing attack for the very first time.
There is still some concern as to whether Maclin is healthy after his 2013 campaign was erased by a torn ACL. Assuming he’s completely recovered, though, there’s no reason why he shouldn’t be up to the task.
Jackson posted 82 receptions for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns last season. Maclin’s previous personal best was 70 catches, 964 yards and 10 touchdowns back in 2010.
Maclin was always a higher-volume receiver than Jackson, so matching or surpassing 82 receptions in Kelly’s offense seems probable. Maclin is also a superior red-zone target, so somewhere in the neighborhood of nine touchdowns should be doable. Does Maclin have 1,332 yards in him?
That remains to be seen. Having said that, don’t underestimate him. With Jackson out of the picture in this high-powered offense, Maclin is walking into the most fertile situation since his arrival in Philadelphia. Expectations should only be on the rise.