With DeSean Jackson all but declared out for this Sunday's game against the Tennessee Titans, the focus at receiver turns to second-year man Jeremy Maclin. The scrutiny on Maclin this week brings up an interesting question - should we have been focusing more on Maclin all along?
It's widely accepted that Jackson is the team's No. 1 receiver and the focus of opposing defense's game plans. Considering Jackson's Pro Bowl pedigree and status as one of the game's most dangerous players, that's undoubtedly fair. But could the Eagles have a pair of "No. 1 receivers?"
Well, since opening day of the 2009 season, Maclin's rookie year, Jackson has 85 catches for 1,576 yards and 13 touchdown receptions. Maclin? He's got 87 receptions for 1,324 yards and 11 scores. This season, Maclin is tied for second in the NFL with six touchdown catches and he has the third-highest yards-per-reception (16.6) among players with over 400 receiving yards.
"We only make each other better," Maclin said of his partnership with Jackson. "I think that's one of the more important things when you have two guys with as much talent as we do. You kind of feed off each other. You see him making big plays out there, I want to make big plays. He sees me, he wants to make big plays. I think we kind of feed off each other."
So how will the offense fare this week without Jackson to push Maclin? Jason Avant takes Jackson's place in the base offense, with rookies Riley Cooper and Chad Hall able to contribute on offense as well. That's certainly a drop-off in name recognition, but how will it change the style of an offense that has put up 51 points over the last two weeks?
"There may be a few things here and there (that change)," Maclin said, "but it's pretty much still the same type of plays that we usually run.
"There are playmakers all around this offense, so you can't single out one guy and try to shut him down."
As for how the Titans choose to defend the Eagles, does Maclin expect to see the kind of attention that Jackson has been given in past games?
"It's possible," he said, "but I think we'll do things to put me in places to get the ball in my hands."
When asked about Maclin, quarterback Kevin Kolb noted that the 22-year-old Missouri product has made a concerted effort to work on his overall game.
"I think the one thing that helps Mac a lot is his focus, his determination," Kolb said. "When he gets to the ball, he doesn't think anybody can cover him. He doesn't think anybody can get past him when he's blocking. That aggression that he has helps in all aspects. That's why he finds himself so wide open sometimes."
"I've become a more complete player," Maclin added. "That was my goal for this year and I'm only going to continue to get better."
That's a scary thought for the rest of the league.
-- Posted by Bo Wulf, 6:15 p.m., October 20