Reminder: Jeremy Maclin is really good

Reminder: Jeremy Maclin is really good
August 1, 2014, 11:30 am
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Has the city of Philadelphia forgotten how good Jeremy Maclin is?

A lot of the skepticism over Maclin right now is a result of the torn ACL that erased his 2013 campaign, an injury that more and more athletes are recovering from faster and faster. That’s understandable, I guess.

Aside from the injury, though, there are still lingering doubts as to whether Maclin can fill the role of the Philadelphia Eagles’ feature receiver. That’s somewhat surprising given there were actual debates over who was truly the No. 1 between him and DeSean Jackson prior to last season. And if I recall correctly, there was a lot of excitement heading into last summer about how much of a fit Maclin might be in head coach Chip Kelly’s offense.

Quite a bit of that negativitiy seems to be rooted in misconceptions, too.

Perhaps most common is the emphasis placed on the fact that Maclin has never produced a 1,000-yard receiving season. Even that is only true if couched. “1,000-yard receiving season? Nope, but Maclin did reach 1,000 yards from scrimmage in 2010.

That was a huge year. 1,000 yards or no, 70 receptions for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns is nothing to sneeze at—especially considering he was sharing looks with Jackson.

Another myth that’s floating around is Maclin isn’t fast or much of a deep threat. Sure, he’s no DeSean in that respect, as only a select few people are. However, Maclin possesses 4.4 speed himself, so he’s not exactly slow.

And as far as the deep ball is concerned? Maclin can do that. His 40 receptions of 20 yards or more from 2010-12 are only five fewer than Jackson posted during the same span.

Don’t credit all of Maclin’s success to Jackson for taking the pressure off, either. When DeSean went down with a season-ending injury in 2012, Maclin continued right on producing. Over the final five games, largely with a rookie Nick Foles as the starter and three-fifths of the offensive line missing, Maclin posted two 100-yard games and three touchdowns.

Yet another aspect where Maclin doesn’t get enough credit is for his work inside the red zone. At 6’0”, 198 pounds, we tend not to think of Maclin as being very big and therefore not the most effective weapon when the field shrinks. Statistically speaking, that’s just false.

Fifteen of Maclin’s 26 career touchdown catches came inside the red zone. That includes the seven he recorded during that monster 2010 season. He may not be a towering freak like Calvin Johnson, but Maclin’s ability to create separation in tight spaces allows him to remain effective down around the goal line.

While we’re debunking flawed arguments, the notion that Maclin is hurt all the time is misleading. True, he does seem to come out of an inordinate amount of games for little dings, only to return a few plays later.

As far as missing entire games, Maclin was actually fairly durable up to last season with the ACL. He missed just five games from his rookie season through ’12, and more than one game in a season just once in ’11.

All this defense for a guy who’s never eclipsed 1,000 yards receiving?

To be fair, you can’t blame Maclin entirely for his inability to take the next step or at least replicate his 2010 numbers. There were forces conspiring against him that were completely out of his control.

A mysterious illness struck Maclin during the offseason leading up to 2011. That lymphoma scare caused Maclin to miss much of training camp, so it’s understandable why he wouldn’t be in his best form by the time the season started. That was also the year he missed three games with injuries, otherwise 1,000 yards would’ve been within reach.

And 2012 was simply a lost year for the Eagles. The team finished with a 4-12 record and was down to a rookie quarterback by the end of the year, behind an offensive line that lost three starters to injury, with no defense to speak of and Pro Bowlers Jackson and LeSean McCoy missing time as well. Naturally, it wasn’t going to be Maclin’s best campaign.

Despite those issues, Maclin stayed fairly consistent. He managed to record at least 63 receptions and 857 yards over those two seasons. Those were quality No. 2 numbers at the very least.

Now he’s stepping into a feature role, which means no more sharing targets with DeSean. And if 2013 was any indication, Maclin should have no problem finally going over the 1,000-yard mark. Pretty much every skill player on the Eagles offense set new personal bests in Kelly’s offense, the lone exception being 30-year-old Jason Avant.

Maclin is 26 with a long career ahead of him; a former first-round pick finally getting the chance to step out of Jackson’s shadow. Yes, the ACL is a concern, but so far, so good on that front as well.

Maclin looks strong at camp. He’s not limited at all. If he’s lost even half a step, you can’t tell simply from watching him. He’s doing it all out there, from catching underneath passes to attacking the defense deep. Most importantly, he’s getting open.

In the event you have forgotten how good Maclin can be, he appears poised to remind you in 2014.