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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Eagle Eye podcast: A wild win in Washington

Eagle Eye podcast: A wild win in Washington

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast presented by Nissan, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro break down the Eagles’ wild win over the Redskins. 

Looking at the playoff picture. Carson Wentz’s good and bad plays. Miles Sanders is a stud. All the young guys are balling. 

• Big picture 
• Carson Wentz good and bad 
• Miles Sanders carries the load
• Greg Ward comes through late 
• Boston Scott has earned his role 
• All the young guys are earning it  
• The defense is a problem 
• Looking ahead to the Dallas matchup 

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

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Greg Ward plays hero with same mindset that got him here

Greg Ward plays hero with same mindset that got him here

LANDOVER, Md. — As the game-winning touchdown pass off Carson Wentz’s hand floated toward the back of the end zone, Greg Ward Jr. was thinking one thing. 

It’s pretty much the same thing he’s been thinking about for the last few years. 

“It’s mine regardless,” Ward said. “That was my whole mindset.”

There was no doubt in Ward’s mind that he was going to make that game-winning catch, just like there was no doubt he was going to be successful in the NFL. 

No matter how long it took. 

There really is something about the power of positivity. 

On Sunday, the 24-year-old Ward soared high to catch the pass over former Pro Bowler Josh Norman in the back of the end zone. It gave the Eagles a lead with just 32 seconds remaining in their 37-27 win over the Redskins at FedEx Field. 

On Sunday night, Ward was asked if he could have imagined making a catch like that when he was playing for the San Antonio Commanders of the short-lived Alliance of American Football. 

Of course he could. 

“You always think about big catches like that,” Ward said. “It is truly a blessing to be in that position and in that environment. I am truly blessed.”

It wasn’t just the game-winning catch either. In fact, on the game-winning drive, he ended up with four catches for 40 yards. And five of his seven catches on Sunday came in the fourth quarter. 

The former University of Houston quarterback, who was most recently called back up from the practice squad on Nov. 23, is pretty clutch. 

In a wild season, Ward’s journey has become one of the best stories of the year. Last week, Boston Scott credited Ward’s positive attitude for some of his success. Scott said the two have become close friends over the last couple of years and travel to the team facility together. That constant positivity rubbed off on Scott. 

Last week was the Boston Scott game. This week, Ward became the hero. 

“You couldn’t write a better story, man,” said Scott, who got a little emotional. “And to see story after story develop like that, it’s just insane man. God is just so good, man. I love seeing my boys eat. I love seeing my guys eat.”

Ward went undrafted out of Houston in 2017. The 5-11 college quarterback had the athleticism to make it in the NFL but had to learn the position. Now, that background as a quarterback might be helping him succeed. Even Jason Kelce said his background as a linebacker helps him play center; so there really is something to this. 

“I think he’s able to see the field very similar to Carson because he played quarterback,” Brandon Brooks said. “He’s been doing it in practice all year, so I don’t think anybody’s shocked or surprised. I’m just happy that everybody else is seeing it now and he’s getting the recognition he deserves. I’m happy for him.”

In the last three years, Ward has been waived from the roster or cut from the practice squad a total of six times. His transaction history with the Eagles reads like a CVS receipt. 

But he never gave up. 

And his first NFL touchdown was a game-winner with 32 seconds remaining in a very important game. The football will be an early Christmas present for his mom. 

“It just feels great, man,” he said. “It’s a blessing, man. Been through a lot. I’m here now, so that’s all I’m worried about.”

Click here to download the MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles