The Philadelphia Eagles ended the 2012-2013 regular season in a horrid and unfamiliar fashion. Usually, once the last 3-4 weeks of the regular season approach, the Eagles are commonly in some kind of contention for something.
Playoff Seeding. A Division title. Or, as was the case with the infamous "Dream Team",(A monicker QB Vince Young coined after signing a one year deal with the Eagles.) just trying to reach the .500 mark. The 2011-2012 Eagles were over loaded with talent. Tremendous talent. Probably too much talent considering the meticulous way Andy Reid went about forming the roster in the past.
The 2012-2013 regular season was one that was filled with disappointment followed by rage from the fans. In A season that couldn't end fast enough, giving fans nothing to hold their head on. The Eagles were, in fact, in contention after all. For the #1 overall pick in the upcoming draft.
After managing to scrape together enough wins to keep the Eagles from tying the franchise's worst record(3-13) set by the '98 Ray Rhodes led Eagles, changes needed to be made.
It was a long time coming, but changes did come. Andy Reid was let go. Disappointing veterans like Nnamdi Asomugha and Dominque Rodger-Cromartie were sent packing. And then Oregon Ducks' head coach Chip Kelly was brought in to resurrect the ailing Eagles. And also give the fans something they didn't have during last year's tumultuous 4-12 record.
Bringing in a fresh, innovative and unique style of offense to a team full of players that can run a 4.40 in their sleep. This Eagles team, to put it simple, just felt different.
Players, although saddened by the departure of the man responsible for bringing the majority of them into the NFL, couldn't help but let the intriguing hiring of Chip Kelly draw in excitement.
Guys like Jeremy Maclin, Desean Jackson, and Shady McCoy were immediately expected to flourish in the new system. While Michael Vick possessed the athletic ability and speed Kelly went for in the QB spot. It had the makings of a match made in Heaven!
I imagines guys like Shady McCoy and Desean Jackson, both dangerous playmakers in space, were probably having to hold back their drool caused from excitement once the coach was hired.
But there was one player on the roster a lot of the fans and coaches were looking forward to seeing play under new head coach Chip Kelly and his high powered offense.
The opportunity to see #18 finally reach and maybe eclipse the 1,000 yard mark we know he is capable of. Jeremy Maclin came close in 2010, his sophomore season, catching 60 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. Every season he's played with the Eagles brought with it a change at the starting QB spot.
Nick Foles, Maclin's fourth QB, is the latest QB to have thrown a pass to the 6'00" 200lb receiver
The QB's changed but Maclin didn't miss a beat.
In four seasons with the birds, he has a yearly average of 65 receptions, 864 yards receiving, and 7 receiving touchdowns.
A pretty impressive stat line for a player, at 25 years old, having to adjust to a different quarterback every year since his first.
.The former Missouri Tiger wide out was entering his 5th and final season under his current rookie deal. And the consensus amongst fans appeared to be that of a "no-pressure" situation. Maclin, having exceeded expectations of him since his first game as an Eagle, has been a model of consistency in his short four years with the Birds. With his performance Solid enough to give fans the reassurance that if he does or doesn’t reach the 1,000 yards plateau, that he would at least have a good enough season warrant a new contract.
All of that came to a screeching and sudden stop on July 27, 2013.
The most dreaded and feared term in all of the NFL:
"He's been carted off."
You of course tell yourself its something minor but when you also read, "a loud pop was heard." Reality starts to creep its ugly head in. This is serious. And serious it was. At the worst possible time in a young athletes career, he suffers a season ending injury in the final year of his contract. A tragic event that goes to show that the "Football Gods" can be so cruel at times.
The "next man up" theory was put into action as it so often does in this dangerous league. Jason Avant, the oldest receiver on the active roster with arguably the best hands of the bunch. And Riley Cooper, the four year vet coming off two unsatisfactory seasons to say the least. These were the Eagles next best options for an injured Maclin.
Assuming the objective and game plan to be simple in theory, given that neither player exemplified great speed at the position to be a deep ball threat. But the eight year , former Michigan Wolverine, veteran found his niche in this league. And, Avant, firmly finding his place as the "mid to medium long" yardage receiver, will catch anything you throw…in the stadium…with one finger…NAIL...!
Cooper had his work cut out for him, also coming in on the last year of his rookie deal, he, simply didn't show enough with his given opportunities to even think contract talks.
Not to mention the heat he brought on himself over a video that leaked of him violently threatening and using racial slurs towards a security employee during an apparent verbal altercation at an event in Philadelphia.
The event was a Kenny Chesney concert…at Lincoln Financial Field.
The one place in Philadelphia where you are bound to be more recognized than most regardless of how much playing time you've accumulated. Eagles fans know the roster. Even the practice squad. Personally.
We all make mistakes though and I like to think that maybe something about stepping on the field gave him some sort of "gamma radiation", Hulk like intensity, and he couldn’t control it. And that security guard was just caught in the middle of Cooper's rendition of the "HULK SMASH".
Only Riley will know what triggered such an emotional outburst of such a hate filled magnitude. Did the security guard make a joke about his plaid shirt and torn sleeves?
Riley, honestly looked like Larry the Cable Guy's jock nephew.
I just hope he learns to control that anger and rage, while as the comments and slurs don't bother me too much. We live in a society where certain words are deemed offensive as well as harmlessly playful based on the demeanor and of course, race, gender, and/or ethnicity of the person quoted saying said epithet.
Riley went out and had a season that surmounted expectations and he and, at the time, second year, newly appointed starter, Nick Foles built a strong chemistry. Finishing the season with 47 catches for 835 receiving yards and 8 TD's. Riley Cooper came into the season as the subpar talented villain, and came out a serious threat at the wide receiver position.
Alls well that ends well right?
Both receivers are slated to hit Free Agency come March. And it will be wise for the Eagles front office to put more emphasis on retaining Maclin other than Cooper. If the option to retain both players presents itself the Eagles should take it, with the market for each player most likely to be based on whole body of work and not this past season. Injured or not. Maclin is the more attractive option based on consistency and complete skills at the receiver position.
Did Cooper's performance raise enough eyebrows to warrant anything more than a two year deal with the second year being a team option?
Did he do enough in that one season to, in some sorts, "take advantage" of Maclin's injury and time away?
Can the Eagles afford to keep both players?
After all Jason Avant is going to be 31 years old at the start of next season. I could see Cooper at the team's slot position in the not so distant future. Only of course if there aren't any better options available. Riley Cooper at least showed he's worth having on the roster as an insurance option at worst.
One thing is for sure, Cooper definitely did enough to grab an eye or two from teams expecting to fill voids at the receiver spot with a year deal. And Maclin's numbers warrant atleast that. Taking into consideration the severity of the injury itself,
After the 24-22 playoff loss endured by the hands of the New Orlean Saints, there was this feeling that you couldn’t shake.
As a fan, the season was worth hanging your hat on. The Eagles went from 4-12 to 10-6 and NFC East champs. But you cant help but wonder:
"What if Jeremy Maclin was healthy this year?".
Once you realize you are beginning to grin ear to ear from the thought of he and Jackson causing opposing defensive coordinators to stay up as late as I am writing this.
Trying his best attempt to put together a game plan to tame this high powered offense while putting so much emphasis on these two that they are not just "Receiver X or Receiver Y" .Instead, these two mid- 20 year old receivers have earned just as much respect from opponents as any other weapon on this dynamic offense, they are represented by their names.
The opposing Defensive Coordinator then throws his green dry erase marker at the board sending the top of the marker rolling away, taking the coaches hopes of stopping them with it.
So Eagles fans rejoice in a successful season and let us begin the campaign for Jeremy Maclin's return!
Because if you thought the Eagles were good last year without J. Mac....
"You don't even know!"
**That face exactly**
The upcoming 2014 season is poised to be an exciting one. Bringing with it as much curiosity as it does expectations;
And one thing I expect is the #ReturnOfTheMac