It was evident that the most consistent production this season came from the wide receiver position. There were significant strides made this season for DeSean Jackson, Jeremy Maclin, Jason Avant and even Riley Cooper. Although Jackson was involved in some unforgettable moments, it was the play of Jeremy Maclin that spoke volumes this season.
DeSean Jackson: DeSean Jackson is without a doubt one the league’s most dangerous wide receivers when he gets into space. This season was able to take advantage of Mike Vick’s strong arm as he led the team in receiving yards with 1,056 yards off of just 47 receptions. Jackson provided the team with exciting plays in blink of an eye and he will forever be linked to “Miracle at the Meadowlands II”. We also can’t forget about the 91 yard go ahead touchdown dash against the Cowboys in Week 14. That being said DeSean Jackson was far too inconsistent this season. There were games where he was absolutely brilliant (vs. Cowboys – 4 catches for 210 yards) but there were also games where he was nowhere to be found (vs. Vikings – 2 catches for 32 yards). Jackson will look to improve upon this in the 2011 season.
2011 Outlook – DeSean Jackson is entering the final year in his rookie contract. Jackson has expressed his desire towards renewing his contract with the team. Jackson is currently slated to make $565,000 next season. I expect that something gets done once the CBA gets resolved. One issue to worry about however is that Jackson is going to demand a large sum of money and from the sounds of it he will not attend offseason meetings until he gets his contract. It will be interesting to see if the Eagles front-office will match Jackson’s demands despite his inconsistency and prone to injury.
Jeremy Maclin: In just his second season in the NFL, Jeremy Maclin had a breakout year. Statistically, this was Maclin’s best season as he caught 70 passes for 964 yards and 10 touchdowns. Maclin instantly became Michael Vick’s primary target and was the Eagles most consistent player this season in my opinion. There’s no doubt that Maclin is the perfect complement to DeSean Jackson because Maclin is willing to spread the field vertically and also take advantage of the middle of the field.
2011 Outlook – Maclin still has 3 years remaining on his rookie contract and we should expect him to have another big season in 2011.
Jason Avant: Avant is without a doubt one of the best slot receivers in the game. Jason had a decent season with his stats being about identical to that in 2009. Vick didn’t use Avant as much as I would have liked to see towards the end of the regular season, but this changed in the playoff loss to the GB Packers. When the Eagles were trying to complete their comeback, Avant was the go to guy. Avant had 7 catches for 93 yards and the only touchdown pass on the day for the Eagles. Avant has hands like glue and completes the WR trio of Jackson and Maclin.
2011 Outlook – Jason Avant received a 5 year deal worth $18 million last season. I expect the Eagles to continue to use Avant more in the red zone and 3rd down situations. Jason Avant has turned into one of the league’s top slot WR and this should continue in 2011.
Riley Cooper: After being drafted by the Eagles in the 2010 draft, Riley Cooper instantly became a fan favorite of the Eagles. Cooper for the most part displayed his talents on special teams but he showed some potential despite his lack of playing time. Cooper will be remembered in the 2010 season for recovering the onside kick during the Eagles epic comeback of the Giants and also for being the target on Vick’s last pass attempt of the year, which resulted in a season-ending interception.
2011 Outlook – Riley Cooper will continue to be an integral part of the Eagles’ special teams in 2011. Riley should see some more playing time and I am hoping that the Eagles begin to use his size in the red zone. Cooper is not going to supply much spunk but he does a lot of the little things right. Cooper has 3 years remaining on his contract with the Eagles.
Chad Hall: Chad Hall’s only real playing time came in a meaningless Week 17 matchup against the Cowboys. He saw limited action on special teams and lacked the big-play capability that is needed to succeed on kick returns. Chad Hall is very comparable former Eagle, Reno Mahe. Hall is expected to face fierce competition in the offseason.
2011 Outlook – Although this is a great story, I do not really see a role that Chad Hall fits into on this team. The Eagles tried to use him in the wildcat a little bit this season, but Hall is just not big enough to pick up the tough yards. I would be surprised if Chad Hall remains with the Eagles come 2011.