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3 Effects of Jeremy Maclin’s Torn ACL for the Eagles

The Philadelphia Eagles received devastating news Saturday afternoon, hearing that wide receiver Jeremy Maclin, who left practice with an apparent knee injury, had indeed tore his anterior cruciate ligament (ACL). This injury will likely sideline Maclin for the entire 2013 season.

For a new coach and a new system that could have used a player like Maclin, this is quite a setback. While it gives other players an opportunity, it is also a contract year for Maclin; not only are the Eagles losing a player who fits a system, but he would have also been incentivized by the money he could earn/lose from his performance this season.

That said, here are ways the Eagles will be affected by Maclin’s injury:

1. The Learning Curve for Chip Kelly’s Offense Will Be Steep(er)

Kelly directing traffic during camp (via Courier-Post)

Chip Kelly is not your average head coach, nor is he an offensive game-planner who looks to settle or follow the status quo. Maclin, the team’s co-No. 1 receiver along with DeSean Jackson, figured to be a strong part of the team’s more fast-paced, vertical passing game, but now Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur will have to rely on less explosive, less experienced receivers.

With any new offense and any new style, it takes time for players to gel, especially quarterbacks and their wide receivers. Maclin already had a strong rap with quarterbacks Nick Foles and Michael Vick, the two guys competing for the starting job, so there’s the comfortability factor. In addition, Kelly has likely started designing his offense assuming the services of Maclin, so there’s the adjustability factor as well.

This is not to say that the Eagles’ offensive will not be explosive in 2013; in fact, I fully expect it to be more potent than it was last season under Andy Reid and Marty Mornhinweg. It is just that it will take more time to come together and will likely not have the success it would have with Maclin in the fold.

2. Riley Cooper and Jason Avant’s Jobs Are Safe

Cooper has now become rather untouchable (via SBNation)

The Eagles have a lot of guys who will competing for roster spots at the wide receiver position. In fact, with DeSean Jackson the only real “lock,” players like Arrelious Benn, Riley Cooper, Jason Avant, Ifeanyi Momah, Russell Shepard, Greg Salas, Damaris Johnson will all be competing for a spot on the 53-man roster. In all likelihood, Kelly will keep four of those seven, and with Maclin on the team neither Jason Avant nor Riley Cooper could sleep peacefully this summer.

Now, however, both are relatively untouchable. Cooper, at 6’3″, has been thriving in Kelly’s system of deep, back-shoulder throws thus far, and his veteran presence on the outside is needed more than ever. In addition, with the team’s 1A option at wideout gone, Avant, next up on the ladder, can’t be let go of. He is too important of an outlet for Foles and Vick to be cut with Maclin on the shelf.

3. Offense to Rely More Heavily on Tight Ends, Backs

If Ertz can fix drop problem, he will be integral part of offense (via Eagles.NFL.com)

We already knew tight ends and running backs would be a big part of Chip Kelly’s offense. With Brent Celek already on the roster, he signed James Casey, formerly of the Texans, and then drafted Stanford standout Zach Ertz in the second round. In addition, he is the one who helped engineer the Patriots’ deadly two-tight end sets last summer, and many predicted he would employ similar schemes in Philadelphia.

Now, that it is all but a certainty. With DeSean Jackson the lone 1000-yard receiver on the roster, expect Kelly to run loads of two tight-end sets to both free up his wideouts and also open up opportunities for easy throws across the middle to his hulking tight ends.

Also, at Oregon, Kelly relied heavily on his running backs to make key catches out of the backfield. LaMichael James and Kenjon Barner both averaged nearly 20 receptions a year from 2010 to 2012, mostly on dump-offs that turned into big games because of their athleticism. LeSean McCoy is a similar type of player, one who can turn a short pass into a big gain because of his ability to make people miss and his cut-back skills. Expect Kelly to utilize him much more effectively in that regard than Andy Reid did.

 

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Tags: , , , , , , ,

Categories: Eagles, Editorial

Author:Manav Khandelwal

I am the founder of Khandyman Sports, and follow all Philadelphia pro sports teams religiously. I also write for the Hoop76, covering the Sixers for ESPN, and am a credentialed Flyers reporter for Main Line Media News.

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Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Riley Cooper Returns to Eagles Practice | Khandyman Sports - August 6, 2013

    […] that Jeremy Maclin is out for the season with a torn anterior cruciate ligament (ACL), Cooper has to step up if the Eagles’ passing […]

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