5 reasons why the Eagles have such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers

5 reasons why the Eagles have such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers

This isn’t about Jordan Matthews, who probably was the best option out there for the Eagles now that the trade deadline has passed.

It’s about how the Eagles wound up with such an insanely ineffective group of wide receivers that they had to bring Matthews back here for his third stint as an Eagle.

How did it get this bad?

Like most things, there’s no one simple answer. But let’s take a look at five contributing factors:

1. The draft

The Eagles have drafted eight wide receivers since 2010, the year after they took Jeremy Maclin. Who has the best career numbers of those eight? Jordan Matthews, of course. Next on the list is Nelson Agholor, who has had his moments but has put up some of the worst numbers in NFL history by a first-round wide receiver. Riley Cooper had a decent year in 2013, but that’s about it. Josh Huff was a disaster as a third-round pick, Mack Hollins has done nothing to warrant being a fourth-round pick and JJ Arcega-Whiteside can’t even get on the field. It’s not just Howie Roseman. Agholor was a Chip Kelly pick and Huff was probably more of a Kelly pick, although Roseman was still the GM. The bottom line is none of them are elite. For the record, Cooper was drafted before Antonio Brown, Huff before John Brown and Agholor before Stefon Diggs. It’s too early to fairly compare JJAW with D.K. Metcalf, Terry McLaurin or Diontae Johnson, but the early returns aren’t encouraging.

2. Free agency 

Look at some of the outside receivers the Eagles have brought in. Last year, they added Kamar Aiken, Bryce Treggs, Mike Wallace, Markus Wheaton. They signed guys like Braxton Miller, Reggie Davis and Dorren Miller to the practice squad. This past summer, it was guys like Marken Michel, Charles Johnson, Johnny Holton, Devon Ross and Marcus Green. Greg Ward has been around for a few years but can’t get on the field. Now, some of these guys were just training camp legs, but none of them are even in the league at this point. You want your developmental guys to develop, and theirs aren’t.  

3. Trade deadline 

The Eagles didn’t make a move at the trade deadline, yet six days later Doug Pederson stood there at a press conference and talked about how important it was for the Eagles to add a receiver. It’s hard to imagine guys like Robby Anderson of the Jets, A.J. Green of the Bengals or DeVante Parker of the Dolphins couldn’t be had. The 49ers and Patriots are the NFL’s two best teams right now, and they went out and got receivers. The 49ers traded 2nd- and 3rd-round picks to the Broncos for Emmanuel Sanders and a 5. The Patriots got Mohamed Sanu from the Falcons for a 2nd-round pick. It’s a lot to give up, but the Eagles have plenty of picks, and even Roseman would have to admit the Eagles have a better chance of landing a productive receiver in a trade than through the draft.

4. Coaching 

The Eagles’ wide receivers coach is Carson Walch. He’s their fifth wide receivers coach in five years following Bob Bicknell in 2015, Greg Lewis in 2016, Mike Groh in 2017 and Gunter Brewer in 2018. When multiple players regress at the same time — and you can say that about Jeffery, Agholor and Hollins — and young players don’t progress the way they should, like JJAW, the first person you look at is the position coach. The lack of continuity at the position isn’t ideal, and so far the results under Walch are dreadful.

5. Compensatory picks

When last year ended, Matthews and Golden Tate were both on the roster. In fact, they were the only wide receivers to catch postseason TD passes last year — Tate the 4th-down game-winner in Chicago and Matthews a 37-yarder against the Saints. The Eagles elected to let both of them go, presumably to help them with the compensatory pick formula. Tate is averaging 64 yards per game for the Giants, and Matthews is now back after spending the offseason and bits of this year with the 49ers. If the Eagles like Matthews enough to keep bringing him back, why not just keep him in the first place? Sometimes it seems like Roseman’s decision making is geared too heavily to maximizing the team’s compensatory pick stash instead of simply putting the best 53-man roster on the field.

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Report: Jordan Howard expected to miss Eagles-Patriots Week 11 game with injury

Report: Jordan Howard expected to miss Eagles-Patriots Week 11 game with injury

Eagles leading rusher Jordan Howard is not expected to play Sunday as he deals with a shoulder injury, according to a report by ESPN's Adam Schefter.

The Eagles have officially listed Howard as questionable for the team's Super Bowl rematch Sunday afternoon against the Patriots at the Linc.

Howard suffered a stinger in the Eagles’ win on Nov. 3 against the Bears, his former team.

That means Jay Ajayi, who the Eagles re-signed on Friday, should be active for the first time in over a year and will likely have a role.

Howard, in his first year with the Eagles, has 525 rushing yards, a 4.4 average and seven touchdowns, including one receiving. 

Since Week 4, Howard has been the 13th-leading rusher in the NFL, averaging 71 yards per game and 4.5 yards per carry.

Howard was limited in practice during the week and head coach Doug Pederson said Friday he had not been cleared for contact, which left him with a remote chance to be active on Sunday.

Howard has never missed a game because of injury. He didn’t play in the Bears' 2016 opener against the Texans — opening day of his rookie year — but he did dress for the game and was active, he just didn’t get onto the field.

Since then, he’s played in 57 of a possible 57 games.

Howard has the second-most rushing yards in the NFL since 2016 behind only Ezekiel Elliott of the Cowboys.

The Eagles are already down two running backs. Super Bowl hero Corey Clement is on Injured Reserve with a shoulder injury and Darren Sproles joined him on Injured Reserve this week with a season-ending quad injury.

The Eagles will go into Sunday with Miles Sanders, Ajayi and Boston Scott. They also have a rookie, De’Angelo Henderson, on the practice squad.

Sanders, after a slow start, is averaging 4.4 yards per carry on 76 for 336 and has 22 catches for 305 yards.

Ajayi, acquired by the Eagles from the Dolphins midway through the 2017 Super Bowl season, hasn’t played since injuring his knee in a game against the Vikings on Oct. 7 of last year.

Ajayi has battled knee injuries most of his career but his 4.5 career average is fifth best in the NFL since 2015 among running backs with at least 500 carries.

Scott has 16 carries for 68 yards, a 4.3 average in limited duty.

The Eagles have averaged 141 rushing yards in their last six games. The Patriots are allowing an NFL-worst 5.6 yards per carry over their last six games.

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Eagles send high-ranking official to Colin Kaepernick’s workout

Eagles send high-ranking official to Colin Kaepernick’s workout

According to those who attended Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Atlanta on Saturday, the Eagles were well represented.

The Eagles could have sent a regional or a low level scout to watch Kaepernick, but instead, they sent vice president of football operations Andrew Berry, which seems noteworthy.

On Friday, head coach Doug Pederson was asked if the Eagles would be in attendance at the workout.

“I would assume that we would,” Pederson said. “Obviously for us, we're in season so I can't be there. I’m comfortable with the guys we have, but I'm assuming that we would have somebody there.”

Pederson might be comfortable with the quarterbacks the Eagles have now, but it makes sense that the Eagles would at least take a look at Kaepernick. While Carson Wentz will be in Philly for a long time, his backups — Josh McCown and Nate Sudfeld — are both set to be unrestricted free agents after this season is up.

McCown will be 41 at the beginning of the 2020 season and Sudfeld has attempted just 25 career passes. The Eagles also have Kyle Lauletta on their practice squad.

Philadelphia, more than any other NFL city, should realize how important the backup quarterback position can be. Sure, maybe Kaepernick gets a crack at a starting job, but after three years out of the league, that’s certainly not a given. And the Eagles, with their progressive owner, might just be willing to sign Kaepernick despite potential backlash. Or maybe this leads nowhere.

Despite a last-minute move to a location 60 miles away from the Falcons’ facility, Berry and a few representatives from other NFL teams still made it to the workout.

The whole workout on Saturday was seemingly thrown together hastily and was organized by two sides that clearly have a contentious relationship. There were plenty of issues between them, including ones about the liability waiver, media availability and video footage. The move happened 15 minutes before the workout was scheduled to happen.

After the workout, Kaepernick explained why the move happened:

The NFL on Saturday released a statement saying it was “disappointed that Colin did not appear for his workout.” He didn’t appear for the workout at the Falcons’ facility, but the 32-year-old quarterback did appear at the high school sight in Georgia and apparently looked good.

The Eagles pride themselves on searching everywhere for talent and evaluating all options. Kaepernick is certainly an option. Of course, there’s a lot more to the Kaepernick story than a former Pro Bowl quarterback looking for a new team. The NFL in February settled a collusion grievance with Kaepernick and his former teammate Eric Reid. And Kaepernick hasn’t played since 2016, claiming collusion after he began a series of protests over social and racial injustice in the United States. He famously kneeled during the national anthem before games.

It’ll be interesting to see if this workout leads anywhere for Kaepernick or if the Eagles would actually pursue him. For the rest of this season, the Eagles are in a good spot when it comes to the quarterback position, but when this year is over, it’s more questionable. That’s probably why they looked at Kaepernick today.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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