Responding to criticism of the Eagles' wide receivers, Jeremy Maclin took to social media on Monday morning, posting a graphic that showed where the team's top three receivers rank among other trios in the NFL. They are No. 4 in receptions, No. 7 in yards, and No. 5 in touchdowns.
But 44 percent of the catches, 53 percent of the yards, and 55 percent of the touchdowns have come from Maclin. There is no dispute about his production, which has put him among the top receivers in the NFL. It's the other pieces that draw more scrutiny.
Washington wide receiver DeSean Jackson told The Inquirer, "It's Maclin, and that's all they've got." The Eagles released Jackson in March after re-signing Maclin and Riley Cooper. They supplemented their starters with Jordan Matthews and Josh Huff on the second day of the NFL draft.
After Maclin, the Eagles' top receiver is Matthews with 56 catches for 709 yards and seven touchdowns. Cooper has 48 catches for 487 yards and one touchdown. That's a spike in catches from his 2013 campaign but a decline in yards and touchdowns.
"I like them," Maclin said. "We've got two young guys who are going to be very good in this league. Jordan's made numerous plays this year. Huff didn't have a preseason [because of injury] . . . so he's still coming along, but he's getting there. You saw the big catch-and-run Sunday night. And Coop, the big plays haven't been there like they were last year, but he's had opportunities. The ball's overthrown or we haven't been able to connect, but he's doing a good job."
Maclin pointed out that the Eagles have played with two starting quarterbacks: Nick Foles and Mark Sanchez. No trio that has played with two quarterbacks this season is higher in any of the categories that Maclin cited.
"Both guys are very capable, but in the NFL, when you switch quarterbacks, it does take some time to get used to," Maclin said.
This is Maclin's first exposure to being the undisputed top receiver because he had teamed with Jackson during the previous four seasons he played. Although he has capably replaced Jackson, imaginations can wonder about how the two would have functioned together in Chip Kelly's offense.
"Just a lot of big plays," running back LeSean McCoy said. "A lot of space. A lot of yards. That's what I would think. But you never know."
Cooper's productivity as the No. 2 receiver has been a subject of debate, but the team has stood behind him. The Eagles contend that he's creating separation, that his dropped passes can be counted on one hand, and that he fulfills other roles in the offense such as blocking.
Kelly sounded as if he believed the Eagles have effectively compensated for the loss of Jackson.
"If you look at our catches, those three receivers already have more catches, from what I've been told, than last year," Kelly said. "I think our receiving corps has done a really good job, all three of those guys."
Kelly is accurate in that point. The Eagles offense has 324 receptions in 14 games this season. It had 310 receptions in 16 games last season. But the Eagles had 4,406 receiving yards last season compared with 3,915 yards this season, with 2.1 more yards per catch. Even if they surpass the 2013 mark in yards, they still are likely to trail in yards per catch.
One of the positives among the receiving corps has been the emergence of Matthews, although his production has waned in the last two games. He did not record a single catch on Sunday night. Kelly did not think defenses were playing Matthews any differently, and the rookie receiver agreed.
"If they're going to change up something and focus on someone, it's going to be [Maclin], to be completely honest," Matthews said. "If a team goes out and says, '81's going to beat us, let's go out and change something,' I don't think that's happening."
Maclin is clearly the receiver to stop for opponents. After recovering from a torn anterior cruciate ligament last season, Maclin answered any question about whether he could replace Jackson as No. 1 receiver. He is on pace to finish the season with 89 catches, 1,379 yards, and 11 touchdowns. All of those numbers would surpass Jackson's production from last season.
One of Maclin's best games came in the first meeting with Jackson's Redskins. Maclin totaled eight catches for 154 yards and one touchdown, and he was particularly emotional after the game.
"Whenever the ball comes my way, just be reliable for the team, and that's something I always preach and always live by," Maclin said. "As far as duplicating the [Washington] game, I don't know; we've got to see how the ball is falling. But I'm definitely going to be in the right spot, and I'm going to let Mark know he can trust me."
Wide Receiver Shuffle: Has It Worked?
The Eagles wide receivers this year have more catches than last year's group, but last year's receivers had a higher average per catch. As happened last year with DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin has more yards than the other two receivers combined. Here is a comparison of this year's wide receivers group and last year's through 14 games:
Receiver Rec. Yds. Avg. TD
Jeremy Maclin 78 1,207 15.5 10
Jordan Matthews 56 709 12.7 7
Riley Cooper 48 487 10.1 1
Totals 182 2,403 13.2 18
Receiver Rec. Yds. Avg. TD
DeSean Jackson 75 1,275 17.0 9
Riley Cooper 41 743 18.1 7
Jason Avant 32 376 11.8 2
Totals 148 2,394 16.2 18