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Jeremy Maclin Leads a Group of Young, Promising Playmakers

Posted May 31, 2016

The veteran receiver likes what he’s been seeing from the young guys

Last season didn’t end the way he, or anyone else for that matter, wanted.

Jeremy Maclin’s debut season in Kansas City ended with him standing on the sideline during the 27-20 loss to the New England Patriots in the Divisional Round of the AFC playoffs.

After spraining his ankle in the 30-0 win over the Houston Texans in the Wild Card round the week before, Maclin tried to play through the injury against the Patriots but managed to play just 34 percent of the offensive snaps.

The injury was too much to play through effectively, and it’s something he was asked about when he spoke with the media last week at the beginning of OTAs.

“I’m good now and I think that’s the most important thing,” he said.

Maclin had a great first season for the Chiefs, catching a franchise-record (for a receiver) 87 passes for 1,088 yards with 8 touchdowns.

Maclin caught 6 touchdowns in the final six games of the regular season, and the Chiefs stormed back to earn a playoff berth after beginning the season with a 1-5 record.

It was exactly the kind of impact that general manager John Dorsey and coach Andy Reid were looking for when they signed Maclin to a multi-year contract last offseason.

Despite what many would describe as a successful season last year, Maclin is optimistic that the upcoming season could be even better.

“I feel just about as good as I’ve felt since I’ve been in the league,” Maclin noted. “I’m right in my prime, so I’m excited about this upcoming season.”

As if that’s not enough of a reason to be excited about where the offense could be headed next season, Maclin feels good about this group of young, talented playmakers joining him on the outside.

This offseason, Maclin took some personal responsibility in helping further along the development of third-year player Albert Wilson and second-year player Chris Conley.

They all stayed in Kansas City and trained together during the offseason.

In addition to everything he learned during his rookie year, Conley took advantage of that time and feels even more comfortable heading into his second season.

“It feels like night and day,” Conley explained. “Running plays is not about hearing the play call and wondering, 'Hey, where am I lining up and what do I have?' Now it's going out there and being the football player that I remember being—a playmaker.

“I feel more like that (now), and that’s a great feeling, knowing that you can go out there and compete.”

The time spent with Maclin this offseason was helpful for Conley.

“The conversations I have with Alex [Smith] are different,” he added. “The conversations I have with coach Reid and coach Culley are different.

“Now it's just about fine tuning and sharpening my game and learning all the little things that I can and adding those to my repertoire.”

Maclin, Conley and Wilson are now joined by a group of rookies who, although talented and full of athleticism, still have plenty to learn in regards to the finer details of playing the game at this level.

“They just haven’t done it yet,” Maclin said. “That’s not disrespect to them, they just haven’t done it. This is the reason why we do the things we do, kind of ease everybody into it (at OTAs).

“It’s a little different story once those big guys put the pads on and they’re flying at you. It’s our job to get those guys ready.”

Maclin is easily one of the youngest “old” guys on an NFL roster, leading the Chiefs receivers room at just 28 years old and in the prime of his career. The Chiefs brought in veterans Rod Streater and Mike Williams this offseason, but Maclin is the most seasoned on the field and welcomed the responsibility it gave him to be a mentor to the young players on the roster.

“You want that responsibility,” Maclin added. “That goes to show you kind of what they think of you here, kind of what the other guys think as well. I’m doing what I have to do to help these guys.

“Half of the battle is just leading by example, the other half is knowing each person’s individual personality, taking them aside, talking to them not just about football, but life in general.”

In looking at the offense as a whole, Maclin is confident about where the group is headed after ranking ninth in the NFL last season by averaging 25.3 points per game.

“I think we have basically gotten to the point where we know who we are, and we know what we’re capable of,” he said. “The things that we’re doing now on the offensive side of the ball is what we’re good at. Sometimes people try to do things that they want to do, but necessarily what they’re good at doing.

“As long as you stick to your strengths and put guys in position to be successful, I think we’re going to be in pretty good shape.”

Throughout his career, Reid has done a good job of putting guys in position to be successful.

Percentage of Yards Receiving for Reid's offense

Year

Running Backs

Receivers

Tight Ends

1999

17%

64%

19%

2000

30%

44%

26%

2001

30%

55%

15%

2002

25%

60%

15%

2003

29%

53%

18%

2004

25%

58%

16%

2005

22%

58%

20%

2006

25%

56%

19%

2007

23%

64%

13%

2008

19%

65%

16%

2009

14%

63%

23%

2010

19%

67%

14%

2011

8%

69%

23%

2012

12%

66%

22%

2013

27%

58%

15%

2014

17%

51%

32%

2015

13%

57%

30%

Whether it’s leaning on the running backs in the passing game, as was the case back in 2013 with a healthy Jamaal Charles, or taking advantage of the blossoming star in tight end Travis Kelce over the past two years, Reid has spread the ball around quite a bit throughout his career.

One of the young players who looks to be promising through just a few days of OTAs is rookie Demarcus Robinson, who has made some fantastic plays throughout rookie minicamp and has continued to show that during OTAs.

“Just like every young guy he has a lot to learn, but he's a football player,” Maclin said of the former Florida Gator. “I think that definitely goes farther than just being an athlete. That means you understand the game and that means you understand the things that it takes to be successful in this league.

“[Robinson] just has to fine tune some things and continue to get in the playbook, but I think he has a promising career.”

Conley, who was in this position just a year ago, recognizes a similarity in the players the Chiefs continue to bring in each year.

“They draft guys who are ready to learn and are good listeners,” he explained. “So it’s not like you have to drive anything too hard. You usually only have to hit things once.”

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