The performance by Jeremy Maclin in Week 5 against the Buccaneers was nothing short of fantastic. The Eagle's 2009 1st round draft pick finally showed why he was worthy of the 19th overall pick. Maclin finished the day with 6 catches for 142 yards and two spectacular touchdowns. Both touchdown catches were over 40 yard bombs, from the recently returned Donovan McNabb.
Prior to this break-out game, Maclin's fans, coaches and teammates were all sitting back waiting for this young talent to show his stuff. Though being on the current Eagles roster he has had a lot of receivers to compete with. With the 53-man roster deadline the Eagles surprised many people by hanging onto an unprecedented 7 receivers. They eventually let Hank Baskett go to make room for Micheal Vick. The Eagles still have 6 talented receivers and each one could show up on Sunday and make plays for this team.
Well, this week was Jeremy Maclin's time to shine. He normally shows up as 3rd or 4th in the depth chart, but Kevin Curtis, the number 1 man, was once again injured. Curtis, a 7-yr vet, had a stellar year in 2007 catching 77 passes for over 1,100 yds the same year he came to Philadelphia. The team (and fantasy owners) looked for him to have another big year in 2008 but he suffered a groin injury in the pre-season and was sidelined for almost half the year. He did help the Eagles progress in the post-season, which might be a reason Coach Andy Reid has defended Curtis. But many observers noticed that with his return, he had lost much of his trademark speed. The off season would surely give his body a chance to heal, maybe 2009 would be the year to add on to his 2007 performance.
Unfortunately Curtis began the season on a rough note. In the second week of the season he suffered an injury to his knee which kept him out of the Chiefs game, continued through the bye week and was still showing signs of inflammation resulting in him being side-lined this week against Tampa. Will he be able to play next week? Or will his knee and his health continue to be a problem?
Andy Reid does a good job of sticking to his depth chart. He will usually always give his players the opportunity to step right back into the role they had before injuries. I think this is good practice, as it allows players to heal properly without fearing for their jobs. I assume he will do the same with Curtis. If and when he is able to function at full capacity I am confident Reid will allow him back into the starting line-up. However Reid is also very health oriented. At the end of each season he tends to release players with continuing health/performance issues. Correll Buckhalter, Jon Runyan, L.J. Smith, Jeremiah Trotter just to name a few.
Back to my original point, with Maclin starting to show some ability, Andy will have to consider moving him up in the depth chart at the end of the year. Especially if Curtis continues to face health problems. Another option would be for the Eagles to release Reggie Brown and move Maclin up that way. But as it is that wouldn't move Maclin up as he is already ahead of Brown. That would allow Curtis to remain apart of the team and give Maclin the more predominant role. Many fans would like to see Brown go, he isn't producing and he has a big contract which is a drain on the salary cap. Look for him to potentially be cut from the team at the end of the season if things don't change.
I must state for the record, I'm a Curtis fan. I loved the way he played in 2007 and even the games he did play in 2008. To push the envelope even more, I am from Salt Lake City, UT and even attended the same high school as Curtis: Bingham High in South Jordan. I didn't attend at the same time as him, but it makes me a little more partial to this pro with home-town roots. At the same time, I am a realist, and above all an Eagles fan. I believe Curtis can continue with the Eagles, but I believe Andy Reid is starting to wonder if Kevin can still perform at a top-receiver level. Kevin Curtis needs to show more 2007 this year. And for more than one reason, 2007 was also the only year of his career he has remained healthy and started all 16 games.