Philadelphia Eagles

Maclin non-committal on DeSean, likens scenario to T.O.

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Maclin non-committal on DeSean, likens scenario to T.O.

Jeremy Maclin seemed resigned to seeing DeSean Jackson, his long-time colleague in the Eagles’ wide receiver room, being traded this offseason.

“Whatever happens in the organization happens in the organization,” Maclin said. “This was a similar situation when the Eagles decided to part ways with T.O. That's just how the game goes sometimes. So I guess we'll see.”

The Eagles cut ties with Terrell Owens midway through the 2005 season after suspending him for conduct detrimental to the team.

Owens, who helped the Eagles to the Super Bowl in his only full year in Philly, and Jackson, a second-round draft pick in 2008, are the Eagles’ only Pro Bowl wide receivers over the past 15 years.

Maclin spoke at a charity event hosted by teammate Todd Herremans at a Center City restaurant.

All signs point to the Eagles trading Jackson this offseason, even though he’s coming off his third Pro Bowl season and the best year of his career, with 82 catches for 1,332 yards and nine touchdowns.

Maclin, who missed last year with a knee injury, recently signed a one-year contract to return to the Eagles before hitting the open market.

Jackson has 6,117 receiving yards in six seasons with the Eagles; Maclin has 3,453 yards in four seasons. They rank third and 12th in franchise history in receiving yards among wideouts.

Head coach Chip Kelly was intentionally vague when asked about Jackson at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando on Wednesday, and Maclin took a similar tone on Tuesday.

“Anything is possible in this league,” Maclin said. “I think the organization is going to do what’s best for the organization. Everybody knows DeSean is a phenomenal talent, but at the end of the day, that's not a decision that players get to make or the city gets to make.

“That's a decision that the staff gets to make, and I think whatever they decide to do, and with any decision, that’s what you have to believe in, that's what you got to have faith in.”

Perhaps Maclin was simply being politically correct, not wishing to criticize management, but when asked directly if he wants Jackson back, he was non-committal.

“I want to win games, and obviously DeSean's a very talented player,” Maclin said. “So, I think, I want to win games.

“Like I said, to have him on the field, being able to make plays is a plus for the offense. But at the same time, anybody that's out there making plays is capable of doing something.”

Maclin was asked whether Jackson did anything last year to upset Kelly, who took the Eagles to 10 wins, a division title and the playoffs in his first year in the NFL.

“I can't speak on his behalf,” Maclin said. “Whatever that situation is, is what it is. They don't -- [owner Jeff] Lurie, [general manager] Howie [Roseman], Chip -- they're not calling down us, asking us, ‘Do we need to do this, should we do this.’ That’s not what it’s about.

“They’re going to do what’s best for the organization, and so far, so good. They put together a solid team and obviously last year proven so, bouncing back from that 4-12 season (under Andy Reid in 2012). I can definitely see this organization getting back into the playoffs and deep into the playoffs.”

Maclin said Jackson has matured personally over the five years they’ve been teammates but also said he has faith in Kelly and Roseman to do what’s best for the team.

Even if that means trading a 27-year-old with 21 career touchdowns of 40 yards or more.

“DeSean's a great talent,” Maclin said. “That's undeniable. As far as everything else, man, he's come a long way. He's matured in the NFL. I think that's part of the process.

“But it's not for me to speak on another man's behalf. Whatever happens, that's what we have to roll with. ...

“You just have to have faith in the organization and whatever direction they decide to go in.”

Roob: Talented, young cornerbacks no 'Band-Aids' for Eagles

Roob: Talented, young cornerbacks no 'Band-Aids' for Eagles

It's hard not to wonder: With Jalen Mills on the brink of establishing himself as a true No. 1 cornerback and rookie Rasul Douglas shining in his first two NFL starts, what happens when Ronald Darby gets back? And what happens when Sidney Jones gets back?

Answer? Who cares!

All I know is that after a decade of watching recycled, over-priced, disinterested veterans like Ellis Hobbs, Nnamdi Asomugha, Byron Maxwell, Bradley Fletcher, Nolan Carroll, Cary Williams and Leodis McKelvin, it sure is encouraging to see the Eagles stockpile promising, young largely home-grown cornerbacks.

Soon after last year ended, Howie Roseman vowed to finally stop trying to solve the Eagles' cornerback problems with what he called "Band-Aids."

"What we’ve done at the cornerback position is put Band-Aids on things," he said.

And then Roseman and Joe Douglas went and did something about it.

The Eagles drafted Jones and Douglas in the second and third rounds, then traded Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick to the Bills for Darby, and with Mills returning for a second season, all of a sudden the Eagles found themselves with four promising cornerbacks 23 or younger, something unprecedented in franchise history.

The thinking was that the Eagles would be patient and take their lumps waiting for these raw, young corners to develop into legit NFL starters instead of riding the free agent veteran carousel year after year.

And that's where their plan went awry. Because Mills and Douglas are both playing at a high level, and that long-term plan seems to be way ahead of schedule.

It sure looks like for the first time since Lito Sheppard and Sheldon Brown first became starters 15 years ago, the Eagles have capable cornerbacks they can grow with.

Mills has come so far. He now has the technique to match his confidence. He had Terrelle Pryor most of opening day, and Pryor finished with six catches for 66 yards. Last week in Kansas City, he tracked explosive Tyreek Hill most of the game, and Hill caught four passes for 43 yards with a long gain of 18 yards. Mills drew one of the league's best Sunday — Odell Beckham Jr. — and although he caught seven passes, none went longer than 14 yards. 

Douglas, inactive on opening day, has been shockingly good in his two starts. He's proven to be a tough, hard-nosed, physical corner who makes up for average speed with very good technique, and he's as sure a tackler as the Eagles have had at corner since Brown.

How can you not be excited about these two?

The Eagles were without four defensive backs Sunday — Darby, Jaylen Watkins, Rodney McCloud and Corey Graham (five if you include Jones) — and they still beat a healthy division opponent with a Hall of Fame quarterback who threw 47 times and went after Mills and Douglas snap after snap.

I don't care what Manning's stats say, Mills and Douglas have both given the Eagles distinguished cornerback play the last two weeks, and now remind yourself that Mills just turned 23 in April, and Douglas doesn't turn 23 until next summer.

Which brings us to the future.

Jones, a projected first-round pick before his Achilles injury, has the glossiest résumé of any of these guys. He doesn't turn 22 until May. And Darby, who the Eagles liked enough to part with Matthews and a third-round pick, doesn't turn 24 until soon after the season ends.

Now maybe if the Eagles knew what they had in Douglas, they never would have made the Darby trade. But it doesn't matter at this point.

What's important is the Eagles have stocked the cornerback position with enough young talent that they should be in good shape for the foreseeable future. It's tough to find talented young cornerbacks, and the Eagles seem to have found a bunch of them.

And maybe it seems like they have too many. What do you do with all these guys?!?!?! But if you've lived through Asomugha and Maxwell and Fletcher and all the other guys the Eagles have paraded through the Linc over the last decade you're never going to worry about having too many young corners.

So what do the Eagles do when guys start coming back? And remember, even 30-year-old Patrick Robinson has been way better than expected in the slot.

We know Mills will play somewhere. Defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz could start Darby and Douglas and use Mills in the slot. Or he could keep Robinson in the slot with Mills and Douglas outside, leaving Darby as the fourth corner. He could go with Darby and Mills outside and Douglas in the slot.

And when Jones enters the picture? Jones and Mills outside with Douglas in the slot? Darby and Jones outside with Mills in the slot and Douglas at safety?

There are a million different ways to go, but all that stuff will sort itself out.

Really, all that's important now is that the Eagles have a stable of young corners to grow with. And not a Band-Aid in sight.

Jake Elliott's photo after unforgettable finish a major breath of fresh air

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Jake Elliott's photo after unforgettable finish a major breath of fresh air

"A picture is worth a thousand words."

The saying is attributed to Frederick R. Barnard, but there is some debate who coined the phrase. We’ll let historians debate the origin. Fast-forward some 90-odd years later to a hot Sunday afternoon in South Philadelphia and the visual of Jake Elliott triumphantly being carried off the field on the shoulders of Mychal Kendricks and Kamu Grugier-Hill.

It was a fitting close to a crazy game. Elliott had just buried the longest field goal in franchise history. The sixth-longest ever in the NFL. Sixty-one yards of pure bliss for Eagles fans. All courtesy of a player who was not even on the team two weeks ago. A guy most had never heard of prior to that, including his now teammates, being given the ultimate escort. A kicker nonetheless. The still photo now serves a screen saver or backdrop for countless Eagles fans. A reminder of yet another wild finish between these two old rivals. But the image also represents something much deeper.

Sunday was dominated by images of the sidelines during the national anthem, as players responded to the President Trump's comments. The Eagles, along with their owner, Jeffrey Lurie, stood arms locked along with Philadelphia police during the national anthem. Others around the league sat or kneeled. Some teams never came out of the locker room. Some went the traditional route of standing with their hand over their heart to honor our flag. But unlike Colin Kaepernick’s protests last year or Malcolm Jenkins' clenched fist, this was a much broader protest being made by NFL players.

That this a complex, polarizing issue, no one will argue. The overriding message or theme from the players who took part in the demonstrations was it was done in response to the president’s cry Friday that NFL owners who see players “disrespecting the flag” should say “get that son of a bitch off the field right now, he’s fired.” The protests were also done to raise awareness of the racial inequalities in our country. There are those who find any action other than standing at attention for the anthem to be disrespectful to our country regardless of the reasoning behind it.

Sports has long been the cocoon that allows fans to escape "real world" problems. Attend or turn on a game and you could get a two-three hour respite from work or politics or family issues. Those days are gone. The two worlds have collided, and, like it or not, there is no untangling the two forces.

But there was something about the shot of Elliott, a white man being carried off the field by two African-American men. There was no division, race or class or otherwise. It was unbridled joy by three human beings from differing backgrounds. They put color and beliefs — and politics — to the side and celebrated a unique accomplishment. And that is what is still beautiful about sports. Pollyanna perhaps. But individuals of all races and ethnicities and backgrounds working together for a greater good.

Kind of the way it’s supposed to be in that "real world." Picture that.