Eagles Mailbag: Re-signing Golden Tate, missing LeGarrette Blount, more

Eagles Mailbag: Re-signing Golden Tate, missing LeGarrette Blount, more

We asked for mailbag questions and you guys came through again. Since we got enough, I have split them into two separate posts. 

One today, one on Sunday morning as you spend the day preparing for Eagles-Cowboys on Sunday Night Football. 

Let’s dive in: 

It’s an interesting question and, in a vacuum, the answer is obviously yes. Even though he’s 30, there haven’t been many more productive players than Golden Tate in recent NFL history. Here’s the problem: Alshon Jeffery’s cap number is nearly $15 million next season. If they keep Nelson Agholor on his fifth-year option, that’s around another $9.5 million (they’ve already exercised the option but it’s not guaranteed). So we’re talking about nearly $25 million between two receivers after the Eagles are allocating less than $17 million for that entire position group in cap space coming into this season. Would the Eagles be willing to spend over $30 million on three players at one position? To put that into perspective, just one team (the Buccaneers) allocated over $30 million to receivers this season.

Still, it’s possible the Eagles might re-sign Tate. They could even part ways with Agholor if they don’t want to keep him on that fifth-year option deal or they could sign him to a long-term deal and alleviate some cap space for 2019. But this is also the first offseason with the opportunity to extend Carson Wentz, which could absolutely change anything. It’s a little bit of a double-edged sword; the better Tate plays these last eight games, the more expensive he’ll be to keep. I don’t think it’s likely, but I’ll never rule Howie Roseman out. 

It’s easy to look at this running backs group and the trouble the Eagles have had keeping leads and miss LeGarrette Blount. But he wouldn’t have been the answer. 

Out in Detroit, Blount signed a one-year, $2 million deal and lost his starting job after three games. He’s carried the ball 65 times and has an average of 2.7 yards per carry. There are 60 players in the NFL with at least 40 carries this season. Blount is dead last among them in yards per carry. 

Give credit to that guy for everything he did while he was here, but the Eagles were wise to move on. 

I think the Eagles will finish the season with nine or 10 wins. Of their eight games, five of them are in this lousy division. I don’t think it’s out of the question to sweep those games, which would put them at nine wins alone. But even if they win four out of five, they have to be able to win at least one tough game —  at NO,  at LAR or vs. HOU. 

I get why everyone is so excited to finally see Jordan Mailata. He’s the most intriguing prospect we’ve ever seen. But I just don’t think he’s ready. With injuries to the offensive line, maybe he’ll be active for an emergency situation, but I can’t see him playing. And I know everyone wants to see him at running back, but I don’t see that happening either … at least not right now. 

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Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

Miles Sanders chasing records and more in 10 Roob Stats

We've got some overall defense, some Zach Ertz and some Miles Sanders in this week's edition of 10 Roob Stats.

Yes, we can always come up with positive stats even when the Eagles lose!

—> The Eagles have held three straight opponents to 17 or fewer points and fewer than 300 yards. This is only the second time that’s happened in the last 11 years. They also did it against the Steelers, Bears and Browns — the first three games of the Doug Pederson Era. Only the Patriots and 49ers have also had such streaks this year.

—> Carson Wentz’s current streak of 13 straight games with a touchdown pass is 3rd-longest in Eagles history, behind Wentz’s 22-game streak over the 2016 through 2018 seasons and Randall Cunningham’s 18-game streak in 1987 and 1988.

—> Wentz played his 50th career game Sunday. Among all QBs in NFL history in their first 50 games, he ranks 9th in most TD passes, 9th in passing yards, 12th in accuracy, second in completions and 3rd in interception percentage and has the 4th-highest passer rating.

—> Zach Ertz’s nine catches Sunday give him 55 this year. He’s the first player in Eagles history with six straight 50-catch seasons. Keith Byars [1988-92], Jeremy Maclin [2009-14], and Brian Westbrook [2004-08] had five.

—> Zach Ertz now has 17 career nine-catch games. Only Tony Gonzalez [25] and Jason Witten [20] have more in NFL history among tight ends. The last two games mark the fourth time in his career he’s had nine catches in consecutive games. The only other players in Eagles history to do that once are Pete Pihos in 1955 Terrell Owens in 2005.

—> One more Ertz: He’s increased his career total to 492 receptions, 20th-most in NFL history by a tight end. He only needs 14 to pass six more tight ends and move into 14th place. At his current rate, he’ll be in the all-time top-10 by Week 3 of next season.

—> The Eagles allowed 14 TD drives of 60 yards or more the first six games of the season. They’ve allowed 4 the last four games.

—> They’ve also held six straight home opponents under 100 rushing yards, the 6th-longest streak in franchise history and 3rd-longest since 1955.

—> The Eagles are on pace to allow fewer than 1,400 rushing yards ad fewer than 3.8 per carry in the same season for only the second time since 1991 and the sixth time since 1955.

—> He didn’t have a huge game Sunday, but Miles Sanders did add 47 scrimmage yards to his 2019 total and now ranks second among all rookie NFL running backs with 688 scrimmage yards, behind only Josh Jacobs of the Raiders, who has 1,067 (and 97 more touches).

—> Sanders’ 688 yards are most ever by an Eagles rookie running back after 10 games (35 more than Lee Bouggess in 1970) and second-most by any rookie, behind only DeSean Jackson (732). Sanders needs to average 52 yards from scrimmage the rest of the season for 1,000. The only Eagles rookie to reach 1,000 scrimmage yards was Jackson (1,008 in 2008). The most by a running back was LeSean McCoy’s 945 in 2009.

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Why Mike Groh thinks it’s ‘probably not fair’ to say Nelson Agholor has regressed

Why Mike Groh thinks it’s ‘probably not fair’ to say Nelson Agholor has regressed

Despite some pretty clear statistical evidence and the benefit of the eye test, Eagles offensive coordinator Mike Groh on Tuesday pushed back against the idea that Nelson Agholor has regressed this year. 

“I would say that that’s probably not fair,” Groh said. 

But through 10 games in 2019, Agholor has just 36 catches for 322 yards and three touchdowns. He has four drops and has caught the ball on just 57.1 percent of his targets. That ranks 62nd in catch percentage out of 72 receivers with at least 50 targets this season. 

So why doesn’t Groh think it’s fair to say Agholor has regressed? 

I would say that over the last two years, he’s had to wear a lot of different hats in our offense due to the attrition at the position. One of his strengths is his mental flexibility and his ability to learn. He knows the entire system as well as everybody, so he’s able to handle a lot from that standpoint. The flip side of that coin is he gets moved around. 

“In 2017, he was able to really stay in one spot each and every week. We were healthy the entire year. We had the same three, four guys rotating and performing the same job. His job description has changed the last couple of years due to necessity and I understand the question, but to me, he’s still the same player.

Some of that is certainly fair. Agholor has been asked to do a lot more this season than he was in 2017, when he was strictly a slot receiver with a healthy Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith manning the outside receiver positions. 

But thanks to injuries this year to DeSean Jackson and Jeffery, the Eagles have been relying on Agholor. He’s left too many plays on the field. 

Even just from a statistical standpoint, he’s regressed. Look at his yards per game in his career: 

2015: 21.8 
2016: 24.3
2017: 48.0
2018: 46.0 
2019: 32.2 

The guy we’re seeing every Sunday in 2019 looks a lot more like the 2016 version of Agholor than the 2017 version. And the guy we’re seeing in 2019 is getting paid $9.4 million to do it. 

With that contract and with his role in the offense, it’s not unrealistic to expect Agholor to make some difficult catches, but he’s even struggled with routine ones at times this season. 

On Sunday, there were two plays that really stood out. Sure, he made a great leaping grab in the middle of the field, but failed to haul in two potential touchdown passes. 

The one that everyone keeps talking about was on fourth down late in the fourth quarter. It would have been a really good catch, but receivers are sometimes allowed to make really good catches. 

“On the last play, when they went zero (blitz) and we laid the ball out there, Carson was trying to give him an opportunity to make a play,” Groh said. “That’s a tough adjustment based on the direction and the target line we have him on and where the ball kind of fell back over his inside shoulder. He’s the kind of guy that would say he would love to make that play. But that wasn’t a routine play, that would have been a really, really good play. And two guys making a good play in the circumstances that called for, but we didn’t get it done.”

The other play came earlier in the game. It was an off-script chance at the back of the end zone and it looked like Agholor just lost where he was on the field.  

“That play was really designed for a different coverage structure,” Groh said. “And he had a completely — really a completely different assignment had they played the intended or expected coverage, and so he was really just reacting to the situation as the play got extended. And then the ball took him to the corner of the end zone on that one.”

Agholor is 26 now and in his fifth NFL season. He’s had a really strange career and it seems like he has now returned to the bottom of the bell curve. 

He’ll be a free agent after this season and it’s hard to imagine he’ll be back in Philadelphia next year. It’s even harder to figure out what his worth will be on the open market. 

But there are still six games left in this season and the Eagles would get a huge boost if Agholor can help out a little more. 

“Got a lot of confidence in Nelson Agholor,” Groh said. “He’s one of the reasons we’ve had success here and I know he’ll continue to be one.”

Groh might truly believe that, but it’s likely to be a hard sell for everyone else. 

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