Life After Jeremy Maclin: The Eagles' Options At Wide Receiver
By Scott Daniels
Options: they’re great. Two options are better than one, and three options are even better. In college football, the triple-option is a historically dangerous threat if executed properly, but sometimes too many options can be trying. One’s indecisiveness can lead to an impulsive choice — a choice that can trigger a domino effect of bad things.
For example, let’s take the diner: so many things on the menu, but nothing spectacular. When’s the last time you heard someone say that you must have the eggs benedict at John Doe’s Diner? And this is exactly the inherent problem with diners: There are too many things on the menu, and having too many options often leads a person to making the wrong choice.
Well, unfortunately for Chip Kelly and the Eagles, their situation is a bit more complex than choosing an entrée from a never-ending diner menu. Losing Jeremy Maclin for the season means they’ll have to dig into their roster in search of a replacement. Outside of DeSean Jackson, the wideouts gearing up to battle for that coveted No. 2 receiver spot are virtually nameless. Kelly will have to choose wisely for this position, and Maclin’s injury only complicates the already difficult task of making the Eagles legitimate contenders this season.
Here’s a look at the less than glamorous wide receiver situation.
DeSean Jackson was already the primary target in the air, so nothing changes there. The obvious choice to replace Maclin is Jason Avant, a possession receiver with silky smooth hands. Avant is serviceable, but isn’t too fond of gaining yards after the catch. He’ll miraculously grab the ball thrown way over his head, but he’s no Maclin in the open field.
Moving down the depth chart, the Eagles have Greg Salas, BJ Cunningham, Damaris Johnson and some guy named Arrelious Markus Benn (not to be confused with the guy Russel Crowe pledged allegiance to in the Gladiator). This crew is more anonymous than Julian Assange’s hacker community. I’d call them NFL journeymen, but none of them have been in the league long enough to actually “journey.”
Benn, Salas and Cunningham have height, but let’s see what they can do on Sunday before overly critiquing them. Johnson could actually evolve into a serious weapon for the Eagles if used properly. He’s an electric kick returner and could be utilized creatively by Kelly in a three- or four-receiver set. Watch for Johnson to rise in the depth chart if the Eagles aren’t seeing immediate production from Avant.
As for Riley Cooper, his shelf life is about to expire; stupidity and racism are a bad combination. Michael Vick has publically forgiven him, but the rest of his teammates did not. He's now a locker room cancer. It doesn’t help Cooper’s cause that he’s a third stringer at best. He’ll be gone by the weekend.
If you expect Maclin’s void to be filled immediately, think again … but don’t lose hope just yet. Kelly has two very good tight ends in Brent Celek and Zach Ertz, and the Eagles have plenty of options in the air beyond their wide receivers. In what is hopefully a wild and artistic offense predicated around multiple players, Maclin’s absence may not be as bad as it appears.