Eagles Need Not Look Outside the Organization to Replace Jeremy Maclin

Eagles Need Not Look Outside the Organization to Replace Jeremy Maclin

Given the terrible luck that’s befallen Jeremy Maclin, it’s not surprising many fans and some in the media immediately looked to the pool of free agents or racked their brains over potential trades to unearth a solution for the sudden void that was created in the Eagles’ offense. The simple fact of the matter is that won’t be necessary.

There really is no good reason or even need at all for the front office to go outside the organization to find Maclin’s replacement. The offense was already going to be more reliant on multiple tight ends and a strong ground attack, the likely targets to replace Maclin are not very strong for the most part in the first place, and it’s not as if there is any expectation the Birds win a Super Bowl this year anyway.

The point about a more tight end/running back-centric offense is a logical place to begin. Any other season, on almost any other team in the league, Maclin’s injury would be devastating. It’s a huge blow to the Eagles for sure, and we don’t mean to minimize that, but it’s not as if the wide receiver position was building up to be the focal point of Chip Kelly’s offense.

The Eagles have a fleet of running backs and tight ends practically any general manager in the NFL would be jealous of. If Maclin’s absence means a few extra touches for LeSean McCoy and Bryce Brown, nobody is going to mind. If it means more two and three tight-end sets with Brent Celek, James Casey, and Zach Ertz creating mismatches down the middle of the field, it’s hard to find the flaw in that.

GM Howie Roseman spoke to how personnel-driven Kelly’s approach is prior to Sunday’s practice at the Linc, almost confirming Maclin’s absence will likely result in increased roles for backs and tight ends (transcribed by PhiladelphiaEagles.com).

"When you met with Chip originally, he's much more personnel-driven than even I thought just from observing him at Oregon," said Roseman. "It's going to be based on the guys who are producing at a high level and if that's the tight end position, they'll get more reps, if it's the receiver position, if it's the running back group. I think that's yet to be determined since we're so early in camp."

It’s not like wide receiver is a total wasteland on this roster, either. Obviously the Eagles still have DeSean Jackson, who figures to be as dangerous as ever in the new scheme. Either Damaris Johnson or Jason Avant – maybe both – will be a threat running out of the slot. Then there are in-house options to fill in on the outside opposite DeSean as well.

Arrelious Benn was a second-round pick by Tampa Bay in 2010, catching 30 passes for 440 yards and three scores in his second season there before he was derailed by injuries and shipped to Philly. Riley Cooper set career highs last year with 23-248-3 in a limited role. And the slew of bubble players is headlined by Ifeanyi Momah, the 6-7 giant who runs a lightning 4.4 40.

Granted all of Maclin’s probable replacements have either been underwhelming during their short careers, or are unproven entirely. Having said that, this unfortunate situation provides the coaching staff an opportunity to find out exactly what it has in these young players. It’s not like the kids could do a lot worse than most of what’s available to sign.

The singular free agent of intrigue is Brandon Lloyd, who hauled in 74 balls for 911 yards and four touchdowns with the Patriots just last season. Outside of that, other possibilities leave a lot to be desired – Laurent Robinson is the best of the rest. Some of the suggestions are frankly absurd – namely Chad Johnson, Randy Moss, or Terrell Owens.

Chip doesn’t want the circus coming to town when he’s trying to instill a new attitude in the Eagles’ locker room, so you can forget Johnson, Moss, and Owens – none of whom can still go at this point in their careers to begin with. And there really is no reason to add other aging veterans who were never all that good, like Robinson, or Austin Collie, or Jabar Gaffney, or… why? Give one good reason why.

The only person you can reasonably make a case for is Lloyd, and he admittedly looks like an upgrade over what the Eagles have. At the same time, bringing him in prevents guys like Benn, Cooper, and Momah from getting a serious look – why would anybody want that? Again, this season is not Super Bowl or bust.

If the team was coming off of a solid season and looking to make some noise with a deep playoff run this January, then it would be a different story. The Eagles are trying to build for the future though, a future Brandon Lloyd will have no part in. He may make them better right away, but his presence doesn’t help them beyond 2013. Instead it only serves to hinder their progress, something Roseman also seems to realize (via Reuben Frank).

“You want your young players to grow and develop, and that’s why you keep young players on your roster. You look at the good teams in this league, that’s what they do with their players. They develop them, they groom them, then they give them an opportunity.”

“So sitting here, it’s not even August, we have a lot of reps to evaluate our team, and it doesn’t mean we’re not going to look for ways to improve. But at the end of the day, you have to show confidence in the players that you brought in.”

The Eagles lost a very good receiver, one there is no clear-cut replacement for, but now is not the time to make panicky decisions. There is plenty of competition for Maclin’s spot without adding has-beens and never-weres to the mix, or even rentals that might turn out to be only a marginal upgrade.

As Roseman more or less put it, there is a reason those guys are all free agents, and the players on the Eagles’ roster are at camp.

“That's what [training camp] is for, the competition, and that's why we brought in people to compete."

Stick to the plan. There’s no good reason not to.

Matt Rhule thanks Temple, Philadelphia in full page ad in Inquirer

Matt Rhule thanks Temple, Philadelphia in full page ad in Inquirer

On Tuesday, the Matt Rhule era at Temple ended.

Rhule bolted North Broad Street for Baylor University, from the lowly American Athletic Conference to the Big 12, a natural progression in college football.

And, in a classy move, Rhule took out a full page ad in the Philadelphia Inquirer thanking Philadelphia and Temple.

The full text of the ad.

On behalf of Julie and our children, I want to express our sincere gratitude to Temple University. The passion and pursuit of excellence at Temple allowed for our student-athletes to achieve success on the football field and to develop as young men off of the field. Temple and Philly will always be a part of us and we will be cheering on the Owls from afar.

As for Temple — to quote a common phrase Rhule used while at Temple — what's next?

We don't know yet, but we'll find out in the coming weeks.

Led by interim head coach Ed Foley, No. 24 Temple will face Wake Forrest in the Military Bowl on Dec. 27 in Annapolis, Maryland.

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

Best of NHL: Last-place Islanders take down rival Rangers

NEW YORK -- Andrew Ladd scored in the second period and Jaroslav Halak stopped 36 shots to lead the New York Islanders to a 4-2 victory over the crosstown-rival Rangers on Tuesday night.

John Tavares, Jason Chimera and Scott Mayfield also scored at the Barclays Center to help the last-place Islanders improve to 4-0-1 in their last five games.

Jimmy Vesey and Marc Staal scored for the Metropolitan Division-leading Rangers and Henrik Lundqvist finished with 28 saves. The Rangers have alternated wins and losses in regulation in their last eight games.

Halak beat Lundqvist for the ninth time in their last 10 matchups. Halak had won eight straight -- including the last five after joining the Islanders before the 2014-15 season -- before Lundqvist ended the streak in the Rangers' 5-3 win in the season opener Oct. 13 at Madison Square Garden. Lundqvist is now 1-6-1 in his last eight against the Islanders (see full recap).

Schwartz lifts Blues over Canadiens in OT
ST. LOUIS -- Jaden Schwartz got his second goal of the game in overtime, leading the St. Louis Blues to a 3-2 victory over the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday night.

Paul Stastny also scored for St. Louis, which has won four of five. The Blues rallied from a 2-0 deficit and have a point in their last 13 home games.

Tomas Plekanec and Paul Byron scored for Montreal, which completed a five-game trip 2-3.

Goalie Jake Allen made 28 saves to improve to 13-3-3.

Schwartz lifted a backhander past goalie Al Montoya with 1:22 left in overtime.

Stastny and Schwartz scored in a 2:51 span in the third period to tie it at 2 (see full recap).

Blackhawks blank Coyotes to snap modest skid
CHICAGO -- Marian Hossa had two goals, Scott Darling made 22 saves and the Chicago Blackhawks beat the Arizona Coyotes 4-0 on Tuesday night to snap a two-game slide.

Artem Anisimov and Dennis Rasmussen also scored to help Chicago maintain a three-point lead over St. Louis in the Central Division.

Darling made a handful of tough stops but wasn't heavily tested in his first shutout this season and third of his career. He started his third straight game in place of No. 1 goalie Corey Crawford, who had an appendectomy in Philadelphia on Saturday.

The 37-year-old Hossa scored his team-leading 13th and 14th goals in his 27th game -- surpassing his total of 13 last season in 64 contests (see full recap).