Last year’s group of wide receivers was the Eagles’ best ever.
Not for long.
Alshon Jeffery is coming off a nine-touchdown regular season and exceptional postseason and should be fully healthy this fall. Nelson Agholor made huge strides in his third season, and there’s no reason to think he won’t be even better this year. And Mike Wallace, one of only nine receivers with 1,700 yards and a 14.0 average over the last two years, is a significant upgrade over Torrey Smith.
Try finding a better trio of receivers in Eagles history. You can’t.
Heck, there were a lot of years around here where the Eagles didn’t have one wide receiver as good as any of these guys.
The Eagles have a storied past in a lot of ways, but wide receiver has been a black hole for the franchise for most of the modern era.
Did you know that during the six-year period from 1998 through 2003, Eagles wide receivers combined for only seven 100-yard games in 105 games?
And during the 23 years from 1986 through 2008 — basically between Mike Quick’s heyday and DeSean Jackson’s first big year — Eagles receivers had a total of four Pro Bowl seasons? One by Fred Barnett in 1992, two by an aging Irving Fryar in 1996 and 1997 and then T.O. in 2004.
I mean, we used to get excited around here when Victor Bailey, Chris T. Jones and Reggie Brown were drafted.
It’s been that bad!
The DeSean-Maclin-Avant trio was the best in Eagles history until last year.
Then Jeffery proved to be a big-time big-play performer in his first year with the Eagles. He played hurt, he made crazy catches and he was incredibly consistent, especially in the postseason.
Agholor showed remarkable mental strength in shrugging off the disastrous start to his career and becoming a flashy playmaker.
Smith had his moments, but Wallace gives the Eagles the same sort of big-play speed as Smith with far better production (122 catches, 1,765 yards, 8 TDs the last two years compared to 56, 697, 5 for Smith).
Jeffery, Agholor and Wallace — then with the Steelers — each had at least 50 catches and at least 700 yards last year. Needless to say, the Eagles have never had three wide receivers the same year with 50 and 700.
This is going to be crazy.
How do you stop an offense that has Agholor, Jeffery and Wallace? What team has three corners that can match up with that trio?
And that’s not even considering Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert at tight end and running backs Jay Ajayi and Corey Clement coming out of the backfield.
Along with wideout depth from Mack Hollins and possibly Markus Wheaton, Shelton Gibson or Bryce Treggs.
And all of it operated by a quarterback who was enjoying a record-setting MVP season before he got hurt?
Good luck, NFL defenses.
You can’t stop this offense.
Best in Eagles history?
How can it not be?
Most of the great receivers in Eagles history never played with other really good receivers.
Mike Quick blossomed after Harold’s peak years, and the receivers he played alongside during his big seasons were guys like Kenny Jackson, Ron Johnson and Cris Carter before he got good. By the time Fred Barnett and Calvin Williams emerged as solid receivers, Quick’s knees were giving out and he was in his final season.
Harold Carmichael is the best in franchise history, but there was only one year in which a teammate had at least 600 yards — and that was the 1980 Super Bowl season, when Charlie Smith had his best year.
Harold Jackson and Ben Hawkins had some good years together but there was a never a productive third receiver. T.O. had Todd Pinkston and James Thrash. Irving Fryar had Chris T. Jones.
Now, obviously the game has changed a lot, and the third receiver — which 30 years ago wasn’t an important guy — is now a crucial part of any NFL offense. So we’ve included below both a post-1990 list of the top Eagles wide receiver trios and a 1990 and earlier list with the top duos.
But the most important thing is that the group the Eagles have assembled now is experienced, versatile, fast and productive. They make big plays, they get in the end zone, and they’re durable.
The Eagles won a Super Bowl last year with the best trio of receivers in franchise history.
Then they went out and got better.
Top trios (since 1991)
Nelson Agholor [62 catches-768 yards, 8 TDs]
Alshon Jeffery [57-789, 9]
Torrey Smith [36-430, 2]
Jeremy Maclin [85-1,318, 10]
Jordan Matthews [67-872, 8]
Riley Cooper [55-577, 3]
DeSean Jackson [47-1,056, 6]
Jeremy Maclin [70-964, 10]
Jason Avant [51-573, 1]
DeSean Jackson [58-961, 4]
Jeremy Maclin [63-859, 5]
Jason Avant [52-679, 1]
Todd Pinkston [60-798, 7]
James Thrash [52-635, 6]
Antonio Freeman [46-600, 4]
Top duos (up through 1990)
Tommy McDonald [64-1,144, 13]
Pete Retzlaff [50-769, 8]
Ben Hawkins [59-1,265, 10]
Gary Ballman [36-524, 6]
Harold Jackson [65-1,116, 9]
Ben Hawkins [43-761, 8]
Harold Carmichael [48-815, 9]
Charlie Smith [47-825, 3]
Calvin Williams [37-602, 9]
Fred Barnett [36-721, 8]