After dust settles, ranking top 10 receivers in NFC East

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After dust settles, ranking top 10 receivers in NFC East

A year ago, Jamison Crowder was a Redskin, Golden Tate was a Lion, DeSean Jackson was a Buccaneer, Terrance Williams was a Cowboy, Odell Beckham Jr. was a Giant, Amari Cooper was a Raider, Cole Beasley was a Cowboy.

The NFC East wide receiver landscape has changed dramatically since then.

Crowder signed with the Jets, Beasley signed with the Bills, Tate was traded to the Eagles and then signed with the Giants, D-Jack was traded to the Eagles, OBJ to the Browns, Cooper to the Cowboys, and Williams is now a free agent.

What does it all mean? Which NFC East team now has the best wide receivers?

We decided to rank the top 10 receivers in the division, taking into account both what they did last year and their consistency over the past several seasons.

1. Amari Cooper, Cowboys
In four NFL seasons, he’s averaged 70 catches, 977 yards and six TDs, and the 24-year-old Cooper gave the Cowboys a real lift after coming over from Oakland. His 217 yards in Dallas in December is second-most ever against the Eagles. You can debate the other spots on this list, but not No. 1.

2. Alshon Jeffery, Eagles
Alshon gets the nod for the No. 2 spot because of his consistency. He hasn’t had a 1,000-yard season since 2014 in Chicago, but he’s one of only eight WRs with at least 750 yards in each of the last four seasons, and his 5,814 yards since 2013 are 10th-most in the NFL over the last six years.

3. DeSean Jackson, Eagles
Jackson has really built up a body of work in 11 NFL seasons. He’s one of only six players in NFL history with 10,000 receiving yards and over 17 yards per catch. The two years in Tampa weren’t great ones, but he’s still as explosive as anybody and led the league in yards per catch for the NFL-record fourth time last year.

4. Golden Tate, Giants
I didn’t want to rank Tate this high because the Golden Tate we saw in eight games was pretty mediocre (3.8 catches and 35 yards per game). But Tate did catch 75 balls for 795 yards in 15 games last year, and his 510 catches since 2013 are 6th-most in the NFL and his 5,917 yards are 8th-most.

5. Sterling Shepard, Giants
Shepard isn’t spectacular, but he has piled up 190 catches, 2,286 yards and 14 TDs in his first three seasons, which puts him right around what Jeffery and Jackson have done. Close call between him and Nelly for No. 5.

6. Nelson Agholor, Eagles
Nelly’s numbers are modest, but you can’t understate his importance to the Eagles in terms of big plays, and his Super Bowl performance was exceptional. And for the sake of comparison, he’s one of only 14 WRs in the league with 60 catches, 700 yards and 4 TDs in each of the last two seasons.

7. Michael Gallup, Cowboys
The Cowboys’ rookie third-round pick out of Colorado State had a promising rookie year with 33-for-507 and was the only rookie wide receiver in the NFC East to catch a pass. He finished with a career-best 119 yards in the playoff loss to the Rams, fourth-most yards ever by a rookie wide receiver in a postseason game. And he’s only 22.

8. Josh Doctson, Redskins
After barely playing as a rookie, Doctson has averaged 40-for-517 and 4 TDs the last two years for the Redskins. OK production but certainly not close to what the Redskins expected when they made him the 22nd pick in the 2016 draft.

9. Paul Richardson, Redskins
Richardson was only 20-for-262 in seven games in Washington last year but did have a 700-yard season a year earlier for the Seahawks with six TDs so he makes the list based on that.

10. Allen Hurns, Cowboys
Since his 1,000-yard season with the Jaguars in 2015, Hurns has averaged just 31 catches for 419 yards and 2 1/2 TDs per year for the Jaguars and Cowboys.

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Why the Eagles called their ill-advised fake FG vs. Vikings

Why the Eagles called their ill-advised fake FG vs. Vikings

MINNEAPOLIS — On Sunday, the Eagles returned to U.S. Bank Stadium, where Doug Pederson once called one of the most famous trick plays in NFL history.

This time, his trick play didn’t work out so well.

It was just a bad idea.

Late in the second quarter of the Eagles’ blowout loss to the Vikings, Pederson called a fake field goal on 4th-and-4. Kicker Jake Elliott took a direct snap and the play was designed to be a pass to Dallas Goedert, who would — in theory — either go for a touchdown or step out of bounds to give the Eagles another shot at the end zone.

That didn’t happen.

“I was the only receiver there,” Goedert said. “We had the look that we wanted. The linebacker played over towards my side a little bit more. It still might have been there, but it obviously wasn’t exactly how we wanted it to go. In hindsight, those three points would have been nice.”

Basically, the Eagles expected No. 41 Anthony Harris to sit in the middle and not take away Goedert on the short side of the field. Earlier in the game, on a 53-yard field goal, Harris broke to his right, but the ball was on the other hash. The Vikings left the short side wide open for Goedert. That, along with the Vikings’ tape, influenced the fake.

On the fake, if the Eagles didn’t like what they saw as they lined up, they were going to kick the 39-yard field goal. But the Eagles got the look they wanted pre-snap. It’s just that Harris went with Goedert this time.

“Yeah, we had the look we wanted, tried to take advantage of it, get a little bit closer opportunity to maybe shoot it in the end zone after that,” Pederson said. “They made a great play.”

This is a play the Eagles have been working on in practice, but Elliott said this was the first time he’s ever thrown a pass in the game. The design is for Elliott to throw the ball immediately, but when he got the ball, he thought Goedert was too covered. Elliott tried to make something happen, but even if Goedert comes back and catches the ball, the clock would probably run out. The Eagles had no timeouts and didn’t even have a QB on the field to clock it.

This play call from Pederson was a bad one for two reasons:

1. Kicking the FG would have given the Eagles three points and they were getting the ball back after half. As it turns out, the Eagles scored on the opening drive of the second half to cut the lead to seven (24-17). But had they gotten those three points, they could have tried a two-point conversion to put them down three.

2. If you’re gonna go for it, just go for it. Why put the ball in your kicker’s hand instead of Carson Wentz’s? If the Eagles would have converted with Wentz, they would have had enough time to clock the ball and try for the end zone, if that was the idea.

“I mean, hey, Coach made the call, and if it works, it would have been awesome,” Wentz said, “and it didn't, so that's football.”

There were plenty of other reasons why the Eagles lost on Sunday, but this fake field goal just wasn’t a good call from Pederson. Ultimately, maybe it didn’t matter, but a better play call there certainly wouldn’t have hurt.

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What's next after Eagles' latest cornerback catastrophe?

What's next after Eagles' latest cornerback catastrophe?

MINNEAPOLIS — After the game, Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas spoke about putting the game behind them, learning from their mistakes, moving on.

But this was such a thorough collapse by the Eagles’ two third-year corners it really makes you wonder if that’s even possible.

Kirk Cousins attacked both Jones and Douglas all afternoon Sunday to the tune of 333 yards, four touchdowns and a 38-20 dismantling of the Eagles at U.S. Bank Stadium.

The Eagles have now allowed 16 touchdowns passes in six games, and the only QB who didn’t throw one — Luke Falk — isn’t even in the league anymore.

We’re a confident group,” Douglas said. “We know what we can do. You’re not about to play in the league and not have a bad game. Everybody has bad games, as a team and as individuals. So we’ve got to just find out what we did wrong, fix it all up and move on, because we know the Cowboys are going to watch the film and try to do the same thing.

Douglas allowed two long touchdowns to Stefon Diggs, and Jones allowed an Adam Thielen touchdown, mis-played a short Diggs catch into a big play and was just shaky all day.

Douglas has played fairly consistent this year, but Jones has struggled both to stay healthy and to perform when he is on the field.

Sunday was a terrible day for both of them.

“We’re still putting pieces together,” Jones said. “We haven’t came to form. We know what we’re capable of and we’re still trying to do that.”

This is the first time since 1965 the Eagles have allowed five TD passes of 40 yards or more in their first six games. 

They allowed just three last year.

It’s very frustrating,” Jones said. “Obviously you try to eliminate those and make it hard for them to drive down the field, but when we give it to them easy it’s pretty frustrating.

Safety Malcolm Jenkins took the blame for the second long Diggs touchdown.

“I should have been back there.,” he said. “I just vacated the deep end of the field. We just did too many things to give them extra tries. We turned it on one point and it started to turn around, but it was too late.”

How do you put this sort of embarrassment behind you?

It’s not hard at all,” Jones said. “Watch film, go over your mistakes, what you need to do to get better and just practice. We have a game next week, we can’t think about this one. It’s over. We lost already. We’ve got to move on as a team. We’ve got the Cowboys, a divisional game and we’ve just got to move on to that.

Jones didn’t play against the Jets because of his nagging hamstring. He left the Vikings game briefly “to get right” but did finish.

He was a second-round pick, and so far we just haven’t seen it.

“I feel like I’m very close,” he said. “I just have to put the pieces together.”

Jalen Mills should be back this week, and Ronald Darby, Cre’Von LeBlanc and Avonte Maddox are all expected to return at some point this year.

But let’s be honest. 

It’s not enough.

The Eagles need help. Jones and Douglas are still young players and could get better.

But right now, if this team has serious playoff aspirations, their corners just aren’t good enough.

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