Eagles

The crucial lesson Jeremy Maclin learned in his first NFL game

The crucial lesson Jeremy Maclin learned in his first NFL game

It was Jeremy Maclin’s first NFL game and his first lesson in how to be a professional.

Without catching a pass. 

This was opening day of 2009, Eagles-Panthers, down in Charlotte.

“This is how I knew what type of person [Andy Reid] was,” Maclin recalled Thursday. “I’m a rookie, and the whole training camp Kevin Curtis doesn’t practice, he’s hurt, and I’m going with the 1’s — me and D-Jack. Having a pretty decent camp for a rookie, so I’m thinking against Carolina I’m going to play.”

But he didn’t play. The Eagles’ lead kept getting bigger and bigger — 31-10 at halftime — and still Maclin rode the bench.

Finally, with the Eagles up 38-10 at the end of the third quarter, Reid took out Donovan McNabb, Brian Westbrook, DeSean Jacskon and the other starters.

Maclin thought he'd finally get his chance to catch some passes.

Maclin recalled that game Thursday on the Eagle Eye podcast with myself and Dave Zangaro.

We’re beating them pretty bad and Big Red comes up to me and he goes, ‘Hey, you ready to go in and block?’ Go in and block? What’s he talking about? But after thinking back on it he had a little smirk on his face, and I understood why he said that to me. You have to be a football player and the situation we were in, four-minute offense, we’re running the football, 'Mac go in there and block.' So I went in there and blocked my ass off. (Panthers players) were coming up to me, ‘Why you ain’t playing, dude?’ I don’t know! But as the weeks went on I started getting into the games (earlier) and I was starting (soon). But that’s Big Red in a nutshell right there. That’s him.

That was Big Red’s way of emphasizing to a 21-year-old rookie how important it was to be a complete player.

It wasn’t just about catching passes. It was about doing whatever the team needed to win.

Lot of people can be good receivers,” Maclin said. “Not everybody can be good football players. That’s what I prided myself on.

Even though he missed the entire 2013 season, Maclin is top-10 in Eagles history in catches, yards and touchdowns. Including his time with Reid in Kansas City and a year with the Ravens, he finished with 514 catches, 6,835 yards and 49 touchdowns in eight seasons.

Maclin said even though the Eagles went 4-12 under Reid in 2012, losing 11 of their last 12 games, the team was still disappointed when Reid was fired.

“Guys were mad, guys were angry, guys were upset,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a coach in this league that’s more respected and more liked than Big Red. I really don’t. And that’s not me being biased, that’s just me being around a lot of guys in a lot of places, and that seems to be the consensus to how people feel about it. So I think immediately people were mad, people were upset. Me and Shady were pissed. We were so mad. And I didn’t know much about Chip [Kelly], but when he got there that spring (of 2013) and we got into OTAs you got a little juices flowing and your first impression is everything so guys kind of gravitated toward that, something new, something fresh. It wasn’t until we kind into the swing of things the light got shined on a bunch of the stuff that people have said and stuff people did not take very kindly to.”

Maclin spoke on the Eagle Eye podcast about how he was tempted to come out of retirement last offseason, about what it was like watching his friends on the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2017 and about his coaching career.

You can listen to the entire interview below.

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How the NFL’s perception of Carson Wentz has changed

How the NFL’s perception of Carson Wentz has changed

Two years ago, Carson Wentz came in at No. 3 on NFL Network’s list of the top 100 players in the league.

All he’s done since then is throw 48 touchdowns and 14 interceptions, complete 66 percent of his passes and fashion a 96.7 passer rating.

And drop out of the top 100.

It’s stupid, of course. We all understand Wentz should be in the top 100. He’s a really good player. But instead of complaining about it, let’s consider what it means.

Because it didn’t just happen. Nobody was out to get Carson. His fall out of the top-100 may be ridiculous, but it happened for a very real reason and represents a very real national perspective.

When he got hurt in L.A. late in the 2017 season, Wentz was 24 years old and the best young quarterback in football. Pat Mahomes and Deshaun Watson were rookies and Lamar Jackson was still at Louisville. 

Now Wentz is 27 and going into Year 5, and he’s just as talented as ever. His numbers considering his lack of receivers are crazy. That 96.7 passer rating throwing to Nelly, Mack Hollins and Alshon is 9th-highest in the NFL over the last two years. Yet he’s dropped from No. 3 entirely off the list.

It's all about perception.

Carson is no longer seen as this hot young quarterback taking the league by storm. He’s now perceived as injury prone and incapable of carrying a football team from opening day through a deep playoff run.

It’s amazing how perception can change so quickly, but that’s what happens. This year’s Next Biggest Thing is next year’s Washed-Up Has-Been.

The reality for Wentz is somewhere in between. When he’s been healthy, he’s been really good. But he’s going into Year 5 and the sum total of his postseason career is a 3-yard completion to Boston Scott.

So it’s really hard to fairly rank Wentz because he’s 27 and hasn’t won a playoff game. Hasn’t even finished one.

And this is a fickle business. 

Kyler Murray had a nice rookie year and I think he’s going to be really good, but he has no business being ranked ahead of Wentz. Josh Allen did some exciting things last year, but he has no business being ranked ahead of Wentz.

But people look at those guys now the same way they looked at Wentz two years ago. Young, exciting, improving, full of potential. Part of a new wave of NFL quarterbacks.

And when you look at the big picture, there’s a sense that young QBs are leaving Wentz by the wayside.

Mahomes and Watson are three years younger than Wentz. Jackson is four years younger. 

They’re now the hot young QBs. Now they're the future.  

That’s just natural.  Maybe it’s not fair that while you’re out there throwing 48 TDs and 14 INTs your reputation takes a hit, but that’s life.

I liked Carson’s answer when I asked him last week about not being in the top 100

“You can always use anything and everything as just a little bit of extra motivation,” he said. “I'm not going to let that cause me to lose any sleep or anything, but I do look forward to going out this year and showing what I can do.”

I’m glad he’s pissed. Or as close to pissed as Carson gets. I want angry Carson. 

Because you can hang your head and feel bad about being snubbed by somebody’s list or you can shrug it off and go do something about it and win some games and get to the playoffs and prove you really are one of the 100 best players in the league or maybe one of the 10 best.

In the end, only Carson truly controls how he's perceived. In the end, Carson's vote is the only one that counts. 

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Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Fletcher Cox spills details from Eagles D-line getaway at his ranch

Eagles defensive tackle Bruce Hector grew up in Tampa, Florida, and went to college at South Florida. Bruce Hector is 6-foot-2, 296 pounds. 

Bruce Hector had never ridden a horse. Of course he hadn’t. 

That changed in May when Fletcher Cox hosted most of his defensive line teammates at his ranch in Texas. 

Hector and Derek Barnett rode horses for the first time. The guy shot skeet — “everybody sucked at first until about 20 minutes into it,” Cox said — and Malik Jackson, whom Cox affectionately referred to as a “Cali Kid” got to spend some quality time with mosquitos and flies. 

It was one of those things, it was very important to me that I did that, to let those guys know ‘hey, I’m here for you, let’s all get together and get it done,’” Cox said. “Once the guys got there, we had everything laid out, food, places to stay. And guys enjoyed it.

In addition to all the activities Cox’s ranch has to offer, the Eagles’ defensive linemen also worked out together while trying to stay safe during COVID-19. 

Aside from the horses who had to support 300-pound linemen, the real MVPs of the getaway were Stephanie and Sue, two women who work on Cox’s ranch and were in charge of making sure everything was clean for the Eagles as they got together during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

The Eagles’ Pro Bowl defensive lineman said Stephanie and Sue “really stayed on top of it.” 

“I asked them, ‘hey when guys wake up go in their room, make sure you’re spraying everything down, make sure you’re washing the bedspread, making sure that everything is getting sprayed every day,’” Cox said. 

And they did. 

Aside from that, the only people working out on the fields were Cox and his teammates. In an offseason where the Eagles lost all of OTAs and minicamps, Cox felt like he had to step up and get the group together. Without those workouts, the Eagles’ defensive line wouldn’t have been together until training camp this month.  

“I knew I had the place to get all the guys down to my place in Texas,” Cox said. “I reached out to all the guys. I told the guys, ‘hey if you feel safe coming down, let’s all get together as a group, as a D-line unit and try to knock some things out.’ Let’s get a couple days where we can get some work in and just kind of hang out and be around each other.”

Cox, 29, has really grown into his role as a leader on the team, similarly to Carson Wentz, who got a group of receivers together this offseason in Houston. 

On Wednesday, Cox said the defensive line will need to lead the Eagles in 2020 and he’s probably right. That makes his role even more important. He’s the leader of the group that has to lead the team. 

Give him a lot of credit for getting his teammates together during a difficult and unusual offseason. Give that horse a ton of credit too. 

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