Eagles Insider

DeVonta Smith adjusts to life in a run-first offense

Eagles Insider

The more they run, the less they throw, and the Eagles’ new-found running attack has meant fewer targets for every receiver, tight end and running back on the roster.

There just aren't very many passes to go around.

The Eagles have gone from 37 pass attempts per game through the Raiders in Week 7 to 22 per game the last four games. So 15 targets per game have evaporated.

The running game has worked wonders. The Eagles are 3-1 with a last-second loss the last four weeks with this unstoppable ground attack that came out of the blue.

But what about receivers? They’ve been all but forgotten.

“As an offense, I think everybody is happy with the direction that the offense is going in,” DeVonta Smith said Wednesday. “As long as we’re winning games, that’s all that everyone cares about. When your number is called, everybody is ready to make a play.

“Whatever’s working for the team. That’s what we were doing and it’s working for us, why go away from it? If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”

Smith has gotten his targets. He’s caught 14 passes for 258 yards and three TDs the last four games. And Dallas Goedert has 16 catches for 205 yards during that stretch.

Every other wide receiver, tight end and running back on the roster has a combined 21 receptions for 138 yards over the last four games.

That's 34 1/2 yards per game combined for everybody not named Smith or Goedert.

Nobody other than Smith or Goedert has more than 33 yards in a game since Week 7.

 

Nobody other than Smith or Goedert has caught more than two passes in a game since Week 7.

“Those guys are coming in every day, they’re chipping away, it doesn’t affect them,” Smith said. “You don’t see any signs of it affecting them. They’re coming in still working every day doing the things they need to do an I  know most definitely when their number’s called, they’ll be ready.”

The Eagles’ run-pass ratio – so out of whack the first two months of the season – has done a complete reversal.

Safe to say the Eagles are the first team in NFL history to throw 37 times the first seven weeks of a season and 22 the next four.

“When (the run) is that successful, you enjoy just watching those guys get their chance to do what they do,” Smith said. “And eventually it’s going to open up the passing game sooner or later.”

This is an unselfish group of wide receivers, and they’re all willing blockers, and that’s a big part of the running game that's been operating at such a high level.

Smith says all the WRs like blocking and take a lot of pride in it.

“I feel like as a receiver that’s your time just to get your shot back at a DB,” Smith said. “They always get to hit you every play, but you don’t necessarily get to really be physical with them, but with blocking that’s your time.”

Smith is having a very good rookie season. His 664 receiving yards are already 8th-most in Eagles history by a rookie, and he’s on pace for 1,026, which would break DeSean Jackson’s franchise rookie record of 912 set in 16 games in 2008.

He’s also on pace for 71 catches, which would be second-most by an Eagles rookie behind Keith Jackson’s 81 in 1988, still the NFL record for a rookie tight end.

Goedert ranks seventh among tight ends this year with 491 yards in 10 games and is on pace for a career-high 785 yards.

Everybody else?

Just waiting their turn.

You might think it’s difficult to stay engaged when you’re never getting the ball, but Smith said you can’t let that happen.

“You can’t get bored with the basic fundamentals,” he said. “Never get bored with the fundamentals. So keep that the main thing. Keep doing the fundamentals. And when your number’s called, make your play.”

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