I got side-tracked by the McNabb debate, and therefore have not yet commented on the relatively large injury hit the Eagles took when Maclin went down with a torn ACL.
As far as potential injuries go, this one isn’t that big of a deal (to the team, it’s obviously devastating to Maclin). Allow me to make
a two quick points, then add some detail:
- Maclin is a good receiver, not a great one.
- The Eagles, in particular, are well-positioned to handle a serious injury to the WR corps (as long as it isn’t to D-Jax).
Maclin is a good receiver, not a great one.
This one probably doesn’t need much explanation, I think just about everyone is in agreement here. However, let’s take a look at Maclin’s contribution, in context with the rest of the league.
For his career (4 seasons), Maclin’s average per season numbers are:
Take a close look. He’s only played all 16 games once and has actually averaged closer to 14 games per season. He averages just over 4 catches a game. He averages just UNDER 60 yards per game. 4 catches, 60 yards. Not a stat line that jumps off the page, is it?
His season averages (remarkably consistent from his rookie year) obviously look the same. 65 catches a year for 860 yards are good numbers, but how good?
Well, last season:
- There were 33 receivers who caught more than 64.5 passes. Maclin, with 69, was among them (though 27 receivers caught more).
- 30 receivers registered more than 860 yards. Maclin ranked 31st, with 857 (told you he was consistent).
As I said, Maclin is a decent receiver, but he’s far from irreplaceable. Compared with the rest of the league, he’s nearly the definition (statistically) of an average starting WR (assuming 2 starters per team).
The Eagles, in particular, are well positioned to handle a serious injury to the WR corps.
The biggest point here is that the Eagles, prior to the injury, were likely to be running a lot of 2 WR sets anyway (presumably the result of multi-TE sets). That means the team does not need to be quite as deep as has been necessary in the past. Desean Jackson is a key player, because the team needs his speed to help stretch defenses and open up the underneath game (or hit home runs if defenses commit low).
Outside of that, the Eagles WR needs mainly consist of guys who can produce at a league average level. They don’t need game breakers, just a couple of players who can catch the ball and take advantage of limited defensive attention. Between Avant, Cooper, maybe Damaris, and the rest of the potentials, I think the team’s covered.
Remember, the Eagles aren’t trying to replace a top-flight guy here. In fact, it’s not all that difficult to replace a large portion of Maclin’s production. Let’s say 80%. That means, based on Maclin’s career averages, 51.6 catches and 690 yards.
Last season, 57 receivers had more than 690 yards receiving. 73 WRs had more than 600 yards receiving. Not exactly an exclusive club.
Also, 67 players caught more than 51 passes last year. Again, not that exclusive, not hard to replicate.
In other words, Brandon Gibson-level production from last year gets you 80% of Maclin.
Basically, if this season goes poorly, it will NOT be because the team was missing Maclin. Comparing to last year, this injury loss isn’t even on the same planet as losing Jason Peters
It sucks for Maclin and gives beat writers a storyline to run with, but isn’t actually that big of a hit for the team. Want to know how the Eagles will replace Maclin?
- Change the offense to emphasize the RB and TE spots (already being done prior to injury)
- Find a league average WR to take the #2 spot on the field. Wait, do we still have Jason Avant? Yes? Then we’re done.
The Jason Phillips injury, on the other hand….