Monday, November 24, 2014
Inquirer Daily News

DeSean, Maclin and the WR Worries

It’s been nearly two weeks since Vince Young showed up at Eagles training camp and declared his new employer a “dream team,” and Vince still hasn’t been right about anything else, either.

DeSean, Maclin and the WR Worries

For different reasons, DeSean Jackson (left) and Jeremy Maclin (right) have yet to practice with the Eagles. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)
For different reasons, DeSean Jackson (left) and Jeremy Maclin (right) have yet to practice with the Eagles. (Yong Kim/Staff Photographer)

It’s been nearly two weeks since Vince Young showed up at Eagles training camp and declared his new employer a “dream team,” and Vince still hasn’t been right about anything else, either.

As we head into the first exhibition game on Thursday night vs. the Ravens, the Eagles have a lot of question marks, including whether Young will ever throw an accurate pass while wearing their uniform. If you hated it when Donovan McNabb threw the ball into the ground, wait until you see Young throw it sidearm into the ground.

Leaving that where it is for the moment – because Mike Kafka is having a great camp as Michael Vick’s backup – there is still the matter of the offensive line and a few other areas of concern. The starting right tackle is on the PUP list, the starting right guard is a rookie and the center is coming back creakily from microfracture surgery. The first two of those are the main blind-side protection elements for a left-handed quarterback. It might be that Ryan Harris fills in admirably for Winston Justice and that first-round selection Danny Watkins picks up the game seamlessly. That’s a “we’ll see,” however.

Elsewhere, in an Inquirer column today, we took a look at the wide receiver situation. While the DeSean Jackson holdout and his appearance on Monday with agent Drew Rosenhaus was certainly dramatic, it is the absence of Jeremy Maclin that might most trouble Eagles fans.

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Comparing Jackson and Maclin, it’s fair to ask which is really the No. 1 receiver, a point the Eagles will bring up in contract discussions with Rosenhaus. Maclin caught 70 passes in 2010. Jackson caught 47. Maclin caught 60 percent of the passes thrown his way. Jackson caught 48 percent. Maclin caught 10 touchdowns. Jackson caught six.

Now, Jackson was the more dynamic player. He broke bigger plays and racked up more yardage, averaging an amazing 22.1 yards per catch. If you take away just two plays, however – give the opposing team a better rush, or better coverage or whatever you like – and his season was still great but not otherworldly. Remove an 88-yard pass from Vick against Washington and a 91-yard pass from Vick against Dallas, and Jackson caught 45 balls for 877 yards.

Just two plays from a whole season changes the look of everything. Of course, that’s like saying that except for the Walt Whitman and the Ben Franklin there aren’t any decent bridges across the Delaware, but still.

Trust that the Eagles will make that point when Rosenhaus wants them to match what Santonio Holmes got from the Jets (5 years/$50 million/$24 million guaranteed). And that’s for a guy who only played 12 games last season, gained 746 yards, has had one decent year in his career, and is always an unannounced traffic stop from being suspended.

The Eagles will, however, be able to use the standard rebuttal: “Yes, but the Jets are crazy.”

Maclin isn’t DeSean Jackson, but the same is true the other way around. Jackson is nowhere near as steady as Maclin, who has great hands, and became a first-down machine for Vick.

Jackson’s situation will be solved. The Eagles better hope the same goes for Maclin.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
About this blog
Bob Ford has been writing about Philadelphia sports since 1981, and is still trying to figure it all out. A former beat writer covering the Phillies and the 76ers, Ford became a general sports columnist for the Inquirer in 2003, following in and occasionally falling in the deep footsteps of Bill Lyon, Frank Dolson and many distinguished others. He comes to the Philly.com blogosphere after award-winning success as designer/editor of the fabulous Pen & Pencil Club softball blog. Likes: Palestra, inside-the-park home runs, sunny days. Dislikes: phony people, cloudy days, rewrites. Reach Bob at bford@phillynews.com.

Bob Ford Inquirer Sports Columnist
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