As someone who has watched and re-watched every Eagles game over the past five seasons, I’m getting tired of the notion that the Eagles receiving core has become a deficiency with DeSean Jackson‘s release. While having number 10 on gameday certainly worked to the Eagles advantage, I’m a firm believer that the return of Jeremy Maclin, who is and always has been a more complete receiver than DeSean, will allow the Eagles offense to continue to soar. Nick Foles spoke to reporters today (including CSN Philly’s Geoff Mosher), and seemed to be on the same wavelength as me.
“It’s just not going to be No. 10. It’s going to be someone else stepping in,” Foles said Wednesday. “We’re going to be doing our offense, doing what we do. I expect the same plays we made last year, I expect to run those plays again. Obviously, defenses will be able to study that and come out with a plan, but I expect my receivers to make plays when they’re out there.”
“We’ll have guys step up,” he said. “We have Mac back, which is exciting. We’ll see what happens in the draft coming up and we also have guys coming in that they’ve got to step in and make plays. DeSean is a great receiver. He’s very talented. He’s unique in how he’s so fast and can get open and things like that. He’s a hard guy to replace, but we’ll have someone step in and do a great job in their own way.”
While Foles was quick to shoot down the idea that Jackson didn’t deserve any credit for last season’s top-five offense, his statements show his trust in Chip Kelly‘s offense, and they also show the increased leadership role that he seems to be embracing.
When it comes to Kelly’s offense, clearly Jackson was a great fit, but why would Jeremy Maclin, who has great speed and had more receptions and receiving yards than Jackson in 2011 and 2012 not continue to produce at a higher level than Jackson, upon his return? The idea that he isn’t at 100 percent is really a stretch considering that he is now nearly nine months removed from the injury, and will be a full year by the time the preseason hits. Maclin is going to produce like a number one receiver this year.
Foles also pointed out the breakout season that Riley Cooper had, that saw him actually catch more passes of 20 plus yards than Jackson, and demonstrate that he is one of the best blocking wideouts in the entire league.
“Coop had a great year and then they couldn’t double DeSean,” Foles said. “And then if they want to double both guys, well then you got LeSean McCoy running the ball and if I keep it as well we’ll get some yards.”
Throw in the fact that Kelly, who loved to use two tight-end sets in college, only scratched the surface with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz last year, and there seems to be a good case to be made that the Eagles offense could improve in 2014, rather than regress. Will their improvement be because Jackson isn’t here? No, but throw in four legitimate receiving options (which is before the draft), an elite offensive-line, perhaps the best running-back in the NFL, a quarterback who had a special Sophomore season, and an offensive genius leading the crew, and I’m not too worried about life after DeSean. In fact, I’m pretty damn excited, and I think the feeling in the locker room is mutual.