By Vince Quinn
PHILADELPHIA (CBS) --- Over the course of the offseason the question was a simple one for the Eagles: How do you replace DeSean Jackson's production?
In the 2013 season Jackson had a career year with 82 catches for 1332 yards and 9 TD's. He might have cured cancer and found the Lindbergh baby too for all I know--there was quite an uproar when he was cut and rule of thumb is that you can't cut game-breaking, baby-saving talent like that. Meanwhile, Jeremy Maclin was a forgotten man as he recovered from a torn ACL during the madly scientific success of 2013. He was also Jackson's perfect replacement.
Again, the question was always "how do we replace Jackson's production" not "how do we replace that qualities that Jackson has?"
That being said, after three games Maclin has shown that he's more than capable of matching Jackson's 2013 production. As of now Maclin has put up 16 catches for 298 yards and three touchdowns while averaging 18.5 yards a reception for the birds. If you were to average out those numbers he'll finish the year with an 85/1589/16 line. For a more conservative estimate, see Jackson's production of 82/1332/9.
Audio Roadshow Poll: 71% of fans say Jeremy Maclin will have 1,000 yards receiving
Is this surprising? Not in the least. It makes plenty of sense when you consider the two receivers' history with the Birds.
When Andy Reid was head coach of the Eagles Jackson and Maclin performed different roles. Jackson was used as a firework to get the party started while Maclin would tell people to have fun but take their shoes off in the house. The prime example: only nine of Maclin's 29 touchdowns prior to this season were over 25 yards while only seven of Jackson's 23 under Reid weren't over 25.
However, the mid-range possessive role wasn't Maclin's billing when he came out of college. A top receiver prospect from Missouri, here's how Maclin was described in his NFL.com draft profile: "Explosive straight-line speed and quickness out of his breaks. Agile. Can make defenders miss in tight quarters. Natural playmaker who is a threat to score ---from any distance -- on every snap."
Now Maclin is thriving in the proper role with a team that specializes on yards after the catch. In 2013 they led the league in yards after the catch per reception and have the most total yards after the catch this season. As a result, Maclin's been able to use his speed to beat defenders in the open field and create big plays. He has two touchdowns this year alone that are over 25 yards (68, 27) with a third that was called back due to a Jason Kelce penalty. Remember that he had nine in four full seasons under Reid.
It's shaping up to be a year to remember for Maclin and time to forget about....what was his name?
Vincent Quinn is a contributing sports blogger for CBS Philly. You can follow him on Twitter @ItsVinceQuinn.
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