After an incredibly promising start to his professional career, Philadelphia Eagles WR DeSean Jackson put together an awful 2011 campaign, followed by an uneventful 2012 season, before breaking his ribs in Week 12.
And while Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin never put up the same type of monster statistics that Jackson did in his prime, he still showed tremendous potential early in his career. Maclin has still not performed even close to expectations, and even though he has shown moments of brilliance, he is nowhere near the discussion of an elite, or even impressive, NFL wide receiver.
So the question is, will this duo of Eagles wide-outs ever shine again?
Hesitantly, my answer is a very circumstantial, yes.
Every wide receiver is a product of the quarterback throwing to him. Cut and dry, hands-down, no discussion. When a receiver is dealing with a struggling or novice quarterback, it does not just hamper his production, but it can absolutely butcher it.
Some perfect examples of elite NFL wide-outs who experienced great difficulties due to quarterback issues alone are WR Randy Moss when he was with the Oakland Raiders, and Indianapolis Colts WR Reggie Wayne just last year with QB Peyton Manning sidelined for the season.
So when you look at the quarterbacks that Maclin and Jackson have been catching passes from throughout their careers, you can see just why their production has been so limited.
The Maclin-Jackson duo has played with QB Donovan McNabb during his massive decline, QB Kevin Kolb, who is a flat-out scrub, QB Michael Vick who is an inaccurate, run-first signal-caller, and QB Nick Foles who has proven to be an unimpressive and under-prepared rookie. So in reality, neither wide-out has ever played for a pure pocket-passer in the prime of his career.
In Jackson’s second NFL season, he engineered some of the most explosive plays that I have ever witnessed at any level of football. With the speed, elusiveness, hands, and route-running abilities that Jackson has displayed throughout his career, it would be foolish to believe that his days of stardom are finished.
Even though Jackson lacked the touchdowns and long catch-and-runs in 2012 that once made him famous, he was actually on track to put up career highs in both receptions and receiving yardage this season before his injury.
When it comes to evaluating Maclin’s career to date, I am commonly dumbfounded. Maclin has developed one of those reputations in the NFL, where he will have a huge game one week, and then follow it up with an absolute dud. He will look like a Pro Bowler one series, and then a reserve player the next.
He has truly been a model of inconsistency in his short professional career, and has also been hampered with an array of injuries during his time in the league.
With head coach Andy Reid now gone and Vick soon to follow, the Eagles need to continue to change their direction by delegating Foles to backup duty. The Eagles are desperate for a solid franchise quarterback, whether it be the product of a trade or an early, high-profile draft pick.
With a consistently productive QB at the helm, Maclin and Jackson will both have a great chance at revitalizing their once blossoming NFL careers.
But without some serious quarterback help, be prepared for the Eagles’ receiving duo to continue disappointing fans, and falling from relevance.
Please follow Joe on Twitter @Joe_RantNFL for all Eagles/NFL insight.