The Philadelphia Eagles offense was a force to be reckoned with during the 2013 NFL season. In just his first season, head coach Chip Kelly’s Eagles won the NFC East, scored more points than all but three other teams, and had the second ranked offense in the league. Much of that production was due to Kelly’s outstanding offensive alignments.
Kelly loves to spread defenses out and exploit mismatches. Couple Chip’s offensive innovations with newly hired quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave’s exotic formations where he uses an “Inverted Wishbone” or “Full House” scheme having two fullbacks lined up to the left and right behind the quarterback, and a half back lined up directly behind the quarterback forming a diamond shape, and Eagles fans have potentially an even more potent offense to look forward to in 2014.
But, the big question which I know Eagles Nation is wringing their hands about, is can wide receiver Jeremy Maclin lead the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver corps, filling both the leadership and production void left after DeSean Jackson’s departure?
On the field, Jackson’s speed forced opponents to give him extra attention, thus drawing defenders away from his teammates. I’m not in any type of panic mode, but it would be silly to dismiss Jackson’s impact on the Eagles offense. It wasn’t just the plays DeSean made himself, but the fact that offensive coordinators had to game-plan for him which added an extra level of preparation that Eagles opponents were forced to contend with.
While Maclin certainly isn’t as fast as Jackson, Jeremy is dangerous in the open field and has proven in the past to be able to stretch the field. In 2012 Maclin led the Eagles with 69 catches and 857 yards with seven touchdowns. He is just the eighth receiver in NFL history to record at least 55 catches and 750 yards in his first four seasons. His ACL injury of course prevented Maclin from being on the field, but Coach Kelly said in a statement,
“I’m excited to see Jeremy play in our offense. You saw the potential of that in the spring and summer but obviously he didn’t get an opportunity last year. However, what was great to see was how he was literally here every single day since being injured.” Kelly continued, “You can see he has a passion for the game of football. When he was on the field last spring and summer, you saw his intelligence, you saw his great route-running ability and you saw how tough of a one-on-one match-up he could be.”
While I believe Maclin is a very good receiver, I think his mental toughness and work ethic he exhibited during his rehab is the most intriguing aspect that he brings to Kelly’s offense. The Eagles selected two talented but young wide receivers in Vanderbilt’s Jordan Matthews and Oregon’s Josh Huff. The club will need Maclin to show these two young men what it takes to be a professional, and he has already started doing that through his words and actions. Maclin told reporters yesterday during Philadelphia’s OTA’s,
“To consider this season the best year of my career, I need to help this team win. I want to get farther than where we were last year and I plan on being a big part of this offense.”
Maclin has worked hard to get back into playing form and he has the right mental attitude, in my opinion, to lead the Eagles wide receiver corps, making Philadelphia one of the NFL’s top offenses again in 2014.
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