Wide receiver Jeremy Maclin will be the key player in the Philadelphia Eagles offense next season. Moving into his sophomore season as Philadelphia Eagles Head Coach, Chip Kelly decided to part ways with former number one wide receiver DeSean Jackson. This move was a brave one, designed to leave the Eagles with a more harmonious, hard-working roster. It also left a huge talent gap, as Jackson was doubtless one of the most talented receivers in the NFL.
Stepping up as the new Eagles number one receiver is Jeremy Maclin. Heading into his sixth season with the Eagles, Maclin has a lot to prove despite showing good potential in previous seasons. The key issue with Maclin is his health. He missed the entire 2013 season after tearing his ACL in the offseason. Prior to that injury, however, Maclin had played in at least 13 games in each season. Hopefully, he can return to full fitness quickly.
In his new role as the team’s premier receiver, Maclin is under the spotlight for really the first time in his career. In his previous games, Maclin has been used alongside the pacey threat of Jackson, who was often double-teamed. This year, Maclin will be the main man. The supporting cast of fellow veteran receivers Riley Cooper and Brad Smith, alongside rookies Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff are solid enough, although not one of the names carries the same threat as DeSean Jackson did.
The pressure upon Maclin was highlighted earlier this week in OTAs, when Maclin was slow to get up after a drill. Silence descended upon the training ground as medics encircled the player, before he got to his feet and was able to continue. Questions remain over his fitness and they will remain until he has played a few games. Will he return to peak fitness in order to be able to play a full part in the 2014 season?
Head Coach Chip Kelly will have a plan heading in to the new season. The plan may be to utilise the running back pairing of LeSean McCoy and Darren Sproles as a threat to soften up defenses for the wide receivers. It may be to spread the receptions across the receiving corps, allowing all the receivers to gather a roughly equal number of receptions. Whatever the plan, a lot rests on the shoulders of Jeremy Maclin. Just imagine the nightmare scenario of another Maclin injury. Where would the Birds be then?