Eagles Insider

It's never too soon for Eagles to overhaul WR position

Eagles Insider

It’s not like there’s a ton of options. It’s not like there are a bunch of hotshot prospects waiting around on the practice squad. It’s not like you’re going to sign someone off the street in the middle of January who’s going to help.

The Eagles are going into the postseason with two legitimate NFL wide receivers in their regular rotation.

And that’s a scary place to be.

DeVonta Smith has had a very good rookie year, and Quez Watkins has shown that he’s a solid receiver as well as a 23-year-old 6th-round pick.

Beyond that?

If we didn’t know it already, the meaningless loss against the Cowboys Saturday night showed us the cupboard is bare beyond those two, and that really makes life difficult for the 23-year-old quarterback who’s going to lead the Eagles into the postseason.

It’s clear the Eagles wanted to use the Cowboys game to get Jalen Reagor’s confidence up after another miserable season and to get J.J. Arcega-Whiteside some easy catches in a no-pressure game with nothing at stake.

 

Is it too much to ask your former 1st-round pick and 2nd-round pick to make some plays?

Apparently it is.

Saturday’s game only magnified the biggest issue the Eagles have, and that’s wide receiver depth. The Cowboys came in without Michael Gallup, and their fourth option behind Amari Cooper, CeeDee Lamb and Gallup – Cedrick Wilson - had five catches for 119 yards and two touchdowns.

Meanwhile, Reagor was doing his usual thing – five offensive touches for a pathetically ineffective 29 yards – and JJAW was doing his usual thing – dropping passes at every possible opportunity.

Reagor finished the season with 299 receiving yards and a ridiculous 3.2 average on 10 rushing attempts. Not to mention a paltry 7.3 punt return average. The Eagles kept trying to invent ways to use him and he came up small every time.

The last 1st-round WR who wasn’t a rookie to start at least a dozen games and not reach 300 receiving yards? It was 32-year-old Andre Rison 22 years ago.

Meanwhile practice squad running back Jason Huntley steps on the field for the first time this year and on the third kick return of his life busts it for 35 yards and shows more elusiveness on one play than Reagor has shown in his career.

Then there’s Arcega-Whiteside, who by all accounts puts in the work, has a great attitude, gives everything he has on special teams but just can’t play. Cannot play. Drops a touchdown that goes right through his hands and misses another that turns into an interception. Waits all year, finally gets an opportunity and then this.

The Eagles wanted to use the Dallas game to get Reagor and JJAW some confidence going into the playoffs, but their performance only hammered home what we already know.

They shouldn’t be on the field.

The Eagles are a better team if they’re not playing, and it’s not even about who else they have because that’s irrelevant. It’s about them making plays that help teams lose.

Reagor averaged 44 snaps per game this year, and Greg Ward averaged 14 but somehow Ward did more with his seven catches than Reagor did with his 33. Scored more touchdowns. Had as many 25-yard catches.

I’m not under any illusions that Ward is a star, but he catches the football and once it’s in his hands he moves in a forward direction.

 

Ward hasn't been a big part of the offense. He’s had seven or fewer snaps in six of the last nine games. Huntley didn’t play all year until Saturday night. Kenny Gainwell has had nine games with three or fewer touches.

Yet all those guys make plays that Reagor and JJAW only dream of.

There’s no rule that says you have to play the same guys in the postseason that you played during the regular season.

If the Eagles truly want to have the best possible chance to win a wild-card game, Reagor should be inactive this coming weekend. Ward and Gainwell in the slot gives Hurts a couple reliable targets and gives the Eagles a better chance to win.

Nick Sirianni owes it to his owner, his players and this city to give the Eagles the best chance to win this weekend, and that means Reagor inactive and no sign of JJAW except on special teams.

But beyond that, the grim reality is that an NFL team that’s been trying to upgrade the wide receiver position for years goes into the offseason with a desperate need to upgrade the wide receiver position.

Reagor is what he is. JJAW is what he is. They were catastrophic draft picks, and the Eagles must cut their losses, start over and rebuild the WR corps around Smith and Watkins. If Ward is a part of it? That’s OK.

You have this world-class offensive line, a deep and talented stable of running backs, a Pro Bowl-caliber tight end and a promising young quarterback who had an auspicious first season as a starter.

Add a couple more receivers who can actually catch the football and make plays - granted that's easier said than done - and this offense would be unstoppable.

I don’t care where Reagor and JJAW were drafted. The Eagles have to move on. Now would be a good time to start.