Since being drafted in the first round of the 2009 draft, wide receiver Jeremy Maclin has become one of the most consistent players on the Eagles' offense. In three years and five games, Maclin has 209 catches, the most on the team in that time span. And fortunately for the Eagles, some of his greatest games have come against this week's opponent - the Falcons.
In Week 2 of the 2011 season Maclin had a career day in Atlanta, hauling in 13 passes for 171 yards and two touchdowns. In three games against the Falcons, the receiver has 24 total catches for 413 yards and four touchdowns. And though last year's performance was the best of his young career, Maclin downplayed the significance of his individual stats.
"I think we just took advantage of what the defense was giving us and the kind of looks we were being given, and when my number was called I stepped up and made plays," Maclin told NFL Network's Fran Charles on Thursday. "There's still a play there that sticks out, the fourth-down drop I had last year to kind of end that. But throughout the course of the game we were patient and took what the defense gave us."
The Eagles' offense will need to replicate this formula Sunday. Through six games the Eagles offense has struggled, ranking 31st in scoring and 13th in passing offense. Turnovers and inconsistent play has plagued the offense, and according to Pro Football Focus, quarterback Michael Vick has been under more pressure than any quarterback in the league. Fixing this requires more than just improved play along the offensive line, or even quicker decisions. It requires the entire offense stepping up.
"The fact that he has been hit so many times is something that we have to correct as a team, whether it be the O-line or the running backs or the receivers not getting open in time, or even Mike not making the right reads," Maclin explained. "When Mike's clean, when he's not getting hit, he's one of the best passers in this league, so we have to continue to try to change things and keep it that way."
When the Eagles reconvened from their bye week, head coach Andy Reid reminded his players that there are still 10 games to go. And most importantly, accountability will be paramount through the last 10 games of the season.
"One thing we talked about this week, coming off our bye, is just try to hold everybody accountable," Maclin said. "Everybody go out there and do their job and be accountable to your team. Everybody has to own up to responsibility and get out there and perform and do what we came here to do, and that's win football games."
While the offense has been inconsistent, they have also shown flashes of brilliance. Maclin's 70-yard catch-and-run touchdown against the Lions was a prime example of the offense's big-play capability. And the team's ability to drive down the field in clutch fourth quarter situations showed that mental toughness is not an issue. So despite the factors that have hindered the offense, Maclin believes his Eagles can tangle with anyone – including Atlanta.
"We know that this is going to be a hard, tough-fought game," Maclin said. "But we're also confident and positive that if we go out there and everyone is accountable; everybody does their job, we feel like we can not only compete with anybody but beat anybody. We understand that they're undefeated and they're playing very good football right now. But I think we have the recipe to knock them off of that."
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