Spotlight: Jeremy Maclin

posted by Jeff Pasquino on Jul 28th


Jeff Pasquino's thoughts

The Philadelphia Eagles love to throw the ball, a philosophy that has been a part of the team ever since Andy Reid took over the helm in 1999. Reid is still in place at Lincoln Financial Field, but his long time quarterback is a few hours south on I-95 in Washington, D.C. Donovan McNabb has been replaced by Kevin Kolb, a passing of the torch that many have been expecting ever since McNabb was benched at halftime in Baltimore over a season ago.

Kolb is one of the biggest uncertainties for the Eagles as we enter the 2010 season. As long as McNabb had been the starter, expectations for a strong passing game were both high and reasonable. Now that Kolb is under center, some are wondering if the new starter can match McNabb's levels of production over the course of a full season. Fans of Kolb will point towards his two stellar starts last season, but critics will emphasize the level of competition (Kansas City and the Saints) and that the game against the eventual Super Bowl champions was a blowout for almost three quarters.

This uncertainty of the passing attack trickles down to the rest of the offense. LeSean McCoy is now the starter in the backfield, which brings another set of questions. McCoy will still catch the ball well on short passing routes, but if he cannot provide a meaningful ground game threat then the majority of the workload will be on Kolb's shoulders. The receivers are a strength for Philadelphia, a statement that rarely could be uttered during the McNabb era. DeSean Jackson returns as the top wideout with Brent Celek poised for a huge season from the tight end position.

All this leads up to our discussion of Jeremy Maclin, the starter for the Eagles on the opposite side of the field from Jackson. Maclin had earned his starter status by midseason last year, a remarkable accomplishment for the 2009 rookie. Maclin's numbers were greatly overshadowed by both Jackson and also Percy Harvin's production in Minnesota. Were it not for Harvin, Maclin easily could have been in the Rookie of the Year discussions for his 2009 numbers (55 catches, 762 yards and four touchdowns).

Positives

  • Maclin grew into his starter status in his first season, posting 37 catches on 59 targets in the final eight regular season contests.
  • DeSean Jackson will be the top receiver in Philadelphia while Brent Celek will open up the middle of the field. Defenses will cover Maclin the least, affording him several chances to make plays each week.
  • The Eagles love to throw the ball all game long. Maclin should be able to get over 100 targets in 2010 as new starter Kevin Kolb looks his way several times a contest.
  • Philadelphia has a tremendously tough schedule, starting with the NFC East and continuing with several high octane offenses all season long. Expect plenty of high scoring contests with lots of pass attempts which should boost Maclin's numbers.

Negatives

  • The Eagles' do love to throw, but both Brent Celek and DeSean Jackson are the clear top two targets in the Philadelphia passing game. Maclin will battle LeSean McCoy for targets and third / fourth options in the passing attack.
  • Kevin Kolb is a new starter for the Eagles, and despite several seasons of experience and a few NFL starts there are plenty of questions as to whether he will be able to produce McNabb-like numbers. If Kolb posts lesser numbers, expect the WR2 to suffer in a similar fashion.

Final thoughts

The Eagles are a passing team, and Jeremy Maclin is right in the middle of that high-flying offense. Kevin Kolb will be asked to throw, throw and throw some more this year as he tries to outscore teams practically every week. Philadelphia's real weakness this year is their defense which is why they lost in Week 17 and in the Wild Card Round against the Cowboys last season. As long as Philadelphia struggles to keep the opposition off of the scoreboard it will be up to Maclin, Kolb and the rest of the offense to get 27+ points a week to win some games. Maclin will not see a ton of targets every week as Kolb is used to a spread offense and that is exactly what a West Coast Offense should do - spread the ball around to the open receivers. That makes Maclin a tough fantasy start in normal leagues since he could wind up as the third or fourth most targeted option for the Eagles each week (after Jackson, Celek and McCoy). I expect Maclin to have a solid year with better numbers than last season, but the lack of consistent chances will leave your head hurting with lineup decisions that include him on your roster. You can take your chances with him as a WR3 with some upside, but do not count on him for consistent production every week. A half-dozen touchdowns this year with 60-800 production sounds about right to me.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

MrTwo94 said:

Maclin is an intriguing player this year due to his very impressive play last year considering all of his obstacles. Last offseason I recall hearing how Maclin was one of the lease pro-ready WR in the draft because he was coming from a spread offense and he just wasn't that polished. Then I believe he held out. Then he entered the season on the bench behind incumbent Kevin Curtis. He overcame all of this to post an impressive 55 receptions at 13.9 ypr and 4 TD while missing one game and several pieces of other games.

But the real intrigue comes from the fact that there is a new QB. Shake ups at QB sometimes lead to shakes ups in the WR pecking order. While DeSean is a shark pool darling he isn't exactly a go to WR. He's got big play ability, but that doesn't mean he's going to get the lion's share of targets like everyone is assuming. When Kolb is looking for a guy in the endzone (or just a guy to move the chains on 3rd down), I really think Celek and Maclin will be the guys he looks to most often. Given the disparity between DeSean and Maclin's ADPs, Maclin is clearly the guy to target in this duo. DeSean has little to no chance to repeat last seasons performance without a drastic increase in targets, whereas if Maclin shows any progression from his rookie year and/or favorable chemistry with Kolb, he'll easily outperform his draft position and possibly the guy on the other side of the field.

FUBAR said:

Maclin is a stud in the making, DeSean already is a stud but has little room to improve IMO (although being young and ultra-talented, you never know for sure). It's 1a/1b, and Maclin should easily surpass 65/1,000/6. He was good for around 5 receptions and 60-80 yards per game the second half of his rookie year, and while it would be overly simplified to assume he continues that, it's a decent baseline. If anything my projection is too low.

go deep said:

I think the new QB hurts Maclin's progression. Young guys tend to lean on their TE a bit more, not to mention Celek and Kolb are friends and roommates. Between that and DeSean, I don't see enough targets for Maclin to make him a top 30 fantasy WR this year. I do like his dynasty prospects, but not so much with redraft this year. The best thing about Maclin is he will be just good enough in 2010 to take some coverage from DeSean and Celek, who i think will both have big years.

frogpond11 said:

I do feel that Maclin is a very talented athlete and will eventually put up some big stats in his career, but you have to figure DeSean is going to get his..then Kolb's roommate Celek should have a great season as well. I'm just not sure there is enough to go around after those two and all the receptions for the RBs as well.




Jeremy Maclin projections

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