Has Jeremy Maclin Replaced DeSean Jackson?


Credit: Jeffrey G. Pittenger-USA TODAY Sports

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has played exceptionally well this year after missing all of last year with a torn ACL. The Eagles released DeSean Jackson for a number of reasons that that included getting Maclin back from injury. It is unfair to simply compare Maclin and Jackson’s stats as the Eagles have more weapons this year than they did last year. I understand that Maclin is not supposed to replace Jackson individually as the Eagles added other weapons to compensate for his departure. However, Maclin does play the role of Jackson in this offense and runs very similar routes.

The table below compares Jeremy Maclin’s stats from the first five games of this season with DeSean Jackson’s stats from the first five games of last season.


Looking at the table, it looks like Jackson had the better start. Jackson caught a higher number of passes despite receiving less targets. It is quite surprising that despite the fact the Eagles have more weapons this season, Maclin has been targeted a lot so far. One reason for this is the number of passes that quarterback Nick Foles has had to throw this year. The running game has not been clicking so far so the Eagles have had to throw a lot more.

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It can be unfair to compare the two receivers because they played with different quarterbacks as well. Jackson played with Michael Vick at quarterback whereas Jeremy Maclin has Nick Foles at quarterback. Vick and Jackson had extremely good chemistry which helped Jackson put up some big numbers. Jackson was always Vicks favorite target and they were extremely good at connecting on deep throws.

On the other hand, Foles and Maclin have really struggled with chemistry this season. Maclin has been free deep a lot this year and Foles has missed him. Especially in week 1, Maclin was free deep a number of times but Foles failed to find him. If Foles and Maclin had better chemistry and were better at connecting on deep passes, Maclin could easily have had 525+ yards. Maclin also had a 70 yard touchdown called back by an unnecessary block in the back which would have put him near 500 yards on the season.

I think Maclin has done a great job this season and I think is arguably a more complete receiver than Jackson. The Eagles have not missed Jackson a great deal this season. The only thing I miss about Jackson is how good he is at tracking deep throws and getting separation on deep routes. Last week against the Rams, Maclin was left one on one with cornerback EJ Gaines who had no safety help. Foles identified the one on one matchup and threw it deep to him. Maclin got absolutely no separation though, Foles’ throw was underthrown and intercepted but I wish Maclin made more of an effort to stop the ball being intercepted.

When Foles had his best game against the Redskins in week 3, Jeremy Maclin had 8 catches for 154 yards and a touchdown. The chemistry was much better between Foles and Maclin and this game proved just how good Maclin is as a receiver. He made a couple of tough important catches which helped Foles have his best game of the season.

Also, Jackson was not as effective towards the end of the season with Foles at quarterback. Foles targeted Riley Cooper a lot more and spread the ball around to more receivers than Vick did. In the last five games of the 2013 season, Jackson had only 24 receptions for 347 yards receiving and 2 touchdowns.

Although Jackson’s stats are more impressive after five games than Maclin’s, I believe Maclin has sufficiently replaced Jackson and with some better quarterback play, Maclin’s stats could be a lot more impressive. I think Maclin is a better all-round receiver than Jackson and he has played at an extremely high level throughout this year.

Who would you rather have on this Eagles roster if you could choose, Jeremy Maclin or DeSean Jackson?