There’s been a lot of talk regarding the changes that have taken place on the Philadelphia Eagles offense. When you change players, particularly at quarterback, you have to make a change in philosophy.
One big question mark is: How is a 5’10”, 175lb DeSean Jackson going to handle being the No. 1 wide receiver in an offense dominated by slants, curls and out patterns?
Let me nip this in the bud for everyone. DeSean Jackson is no longer going to be the No. 1 receiver for the Eagles. That title will go to Mr. Jeremy Maclin.
This is by no means a knock on Jackson. He’s one of the most exciting players in the league right now and should continue to be so.
It’s about the team catering to its strengths. At 6’0”, 200lbs, Maclin already fit the “west coast receiver” mold physically. He also showed plenty of promise his rookie year, accumulating 56 receptions, 773 yards (14 YPC) and four touchdowns.
With no pre-draft workouts or a rookie contract negotiation to cause a holdout, Maclin has not missed any training camp and has focused primarily on football.
It has been reported that Maclin has been diligent in working on his strength and conditioning. These physical improvements will help Maclin fight through press coverage and break initial tackles to gain extra yardage after the catch.
Add to that a year within the Eagles offense along with an expected 100% attendance in OTAs and training camp, and I’m looking forward to a huge improvement in Maclin in 2010. Catching 80 to 90 receptions isn’t out of the question.
Cornerbacks Champ Bailey (Broncos) and Mike Jenkins (Cowboys) showed last year that DeSean can be taken out of the offense. As good as he is, he hasn’t proven he can consistently take on physical, cover corners.
Maclin’s improvement will only help Jackson. If he and tight end Brent Celek continue their success with the 10-15 yard catches and LeSean McCoy is able to handle being the No. 1 halfback, defenses (safeties in particular) will be kept honest, allowing Jackson more room to run and get open deep.
There’s not a defensive back in the league that can recover if D-Jax gets behind them. Kolb doesn’t have McNabb’s arm, but he can get the ball 40-50 yards down the field and hit Jackson in stride.
Remember the 2004 Eagles season? Terrell Owens presence helped Todd Pinkston stretch the field and rank second in the league in yards per catch (18.8) that season.
Maclin is not T.O. and Jackson’s definitely not Pinkston (which is a good thing for Eagles fans), but this is the type of tandem they can work at becoming. The route runner who can consistently catch over the middle and the speedy deep threat.
For the Eagle’s offense to be as lethal as it can be, Jeremy Maclin needs to be the No. 1 wideout. This will only help each member of the “Young Guns” to maximize their potential.
Of course, DeSean Jackson has to be okay with being the second option and not let his pride get in the way. Ultimately, this will help the Eagles front office decide on extending his contract in the future.