Eagles

Eagles' trio of wide receivers is best group in team history

Eagles' trio of wide receivers is best group in team history

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)

2017
Nelson Agholor [62 catches-768 yards, 8 TDs]
Alshon Jeffery [57-789, 9]
Torrey Smith [36-430, 2]

2014
Jeremy Maclin [85-1,318, 10]
Jordan Matthews [67-872, 8]
Riley Cooper [55-577, 3]

2010
DeSean Jackson [47-1,056, 6]
Jeremy Maclin [70-964, 10]
Jason Avant [51-573, 1]

2011
DeSean Jackson [58-961, 4]
Jeremy Maclin [63-859, 5]
Jason Avant [52-679, 1]

2002
Todd Pinkston [60-798, 7]
James Thrash [52-635, 6]
Antonio Freeman [46-600, 4]

Top duos (up through 1990)

1961
Tommy McDonald [64-1,144, 13]
Pete Retzlaff [50-769, 8]

1967
Ben Hawkins [59-1,265, 10]
Gary Ballman [36-524, 6]

1969
Harold Jackson [65-1,116, 9]
Ben Hawkins [43-761, 8]

1980
Harold Carmichael [48-815, 9]
Charlie Smith [47-825, 3]

1990
Calvin Williams [37-602, 9]
Fred Barnett [36-721, 8]

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• A progress report for Eagles' draft picks after spring practices 

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce egregiously snubbed by NFL's all-decade voters

Jason Kelce was the best center in the NFL over the last decade and no fraud all-decade team is going to change that.

The NFL on Monday announced its team of the decade, and it was good to see LeSean McCoy, Darren Sproles, Fletcher Cox and Jason Peters named. All are deserving.

But the absence of Kelce is egregious. 

Not surprisingly, the same people who haven’t figured out that Eric Allen was one of the greatest cornerbacks to ever play the game — the Pro Football Hall of Fame voters — are the same people who have decided that Kelce wasn’t one of the two best centers in the NFL from 2010 through 2019.

Alex Mack and Maurkice Pouncey were the centers named to the team of the decade, and guess what.

Kelce has made first-team all-pro more than both of them combined.

Kelce three times, Pouncey twice, Mack zip.

Pouncey deserves one of the two slots. He’s made eight Pro Bowls with the Steelers and played on six playoff teams and a Super Bowl loser. Hell of a career.

Mack? Ask any defensive tackle in the NFL if he’d rather face Kelce or Alex Mack. 

Mack’s been a really good player, and he does have more Pro Bowls than Kelce. But he was a 1st-round pick, and those guys tend to make Pro Bowls much earlier than 6th-round picks like Kelce. 

Kelce didn’t make his first Pro Bowl until his fourth season, and he was absurdly snubbed in the Pro Bowl voting in 2017 and 2018, when he was the best center in football, made first-team all-pro both times and didn’t get picked to the Pro Bowl team.

Kelce is the only active player in the NFL that’s had two all-pro seasons in which he didn’t make the Pro Bowl and one of only six in history.

It’s tough making up ground when you’re a 6th-round pick. You come into the league with no hype, and unless you see the guy play every Sunday you can’t imagine he’s really that good.

The rest of the country finally realized in 2017 what we already knew. Kelce guy is a beast. It took way too long. And judging by this NFL all-decade team people still haven’t figured out how good he is.

Kelce has added a dimension of athleticism to the center position that may be unprecedented. What he lacks in size and strength he makes up for in determination, intelligence and leverage. 

Kelce is one of six centers in NFL history to make first-team all-pro three straight years, the only one to do it in the last 20 years. All the others are Hall of Famers.

He’s also one of only seven centers in NFL history to be named all-pro three times AND to win a Super Bowl or NFL Championship. He’s the only one to do it in the last 35 years.

Kelce did make the Pro Football Writers Association all-decade team, so at least somebody got it right.

The thing that’s really disturbing is that Kelce is building a Hall of Fame resume, and the people that snubbed him for this honor could very well do the same when he’s in the Hall of Fame conversation. All-decade teams are one of the leading criteria Hall of Fame voters cite when justifying their picks.

All I know is Kelce is one of the smartest, toughest guys I’ve ever seen. He’s played through injuries that would have ended most guys’ seasons and some guys’ careers.

And he’s done it at a consistently high level since beating out Jamaal Jackson for the starting job in the summer of 2011.

Kelce probably doesn’t give a darn about all this. He’s never been one to take individual honors seriously. That’s not why he plays the game. 

He plays the game for moments like Feb. 4, 2018, and that’s something that none of the so-called experts can ever take away.

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NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

NFL to reverse controversial pass interference rule for 2020 season: report

After a one-year flirtation with pass interference challenges didn't really solve anything, the NFL is expected to end the experiment.

Pass interference replay "almost certainly will not be extended", according to a report Monday from NFL.com's Judy Battista:

This isn't terribly surprising. The rule was put in place largely because Sean Payton and the New Orleans Saints complained very loudly after an enormous missed call in the 2018-19 postseason.

That crucial uncalled pass interference, you might recall, was committed by new Eagles cornerback Nickell Robey-Coleman:

The 2019 regular season allowed coaches to challenge pass interference calls, either called or uncalled, but the results were a mixture of underwhelming and frustrating.

Eagles fans probably remember this very obvious Avonte Maddox pass interference that wasn't called, was challenged by Packers coach Matt LaFleur, and then still wasn't called:

That was insane.

"The cumulative effect of the misses, plus the replay spotlight on these misses, has really taken its toll," former NFL ref and current NBC rules analyst Terry McAulay told the New York Times last November.

The line for what constitutes pass interference was shown - as football watchers already knew - to be an indistinct and ever-moving line, and the ability to challenge the calls just created one more layer of aggrivation.

If the league does indeed remove the rule, it will be a victory. Fans, players, and coaches will still yell about missed pass interference calls - but at least they won't have to do it twice.

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