Eagles

Blame Eagles' coaching staff more than Mack Hollins

Blame Eagles' coaching staff more than Mack Hollins

Mack Hollins was an easy target of ridicule from Eagles fans earlier this season when he was playing a ton of snaps and wasn’t catching any passes. 

He deserved a lot of that criticism. 

But the coaching staff deserves more of the blame. Because for over a month, they played that guy, the guy who went eight games without a catch, over their second-round pick. 

The coaching staff had its reasons — it kept saying JJ Arcega-Whiteside needed more time cross-training, Hollins was grading out well — but none of those reasons were good enough. And after weeks of watching Hollins take dozens of fruitless snaps, they should have pulled the plug much earlier. 

Finally, in the last couple games, the Eagles have started to play Arcega-Whiteside more and Hollins less. And, on Tuesday, they finally waived Hollins. He's now a Miami Dolphin (see story).

At his weekly news conference, offensive coordinator Mike Groh was asked, in retrospect, if all those snaps that went to Hollins this season would have been better spent on Arcega-Whiteside or even Greg Ward. 

“I think that Mack did an outstanding job while he was here and I wish him all the best,” Groh said. “But we have a lot of confidence in Greg and JJ moving forward, and Alshon and Nelly and really all the skill guys that are here. And we’re going to continue trying to go out there and improve each and every day. We’re excited and we’re looking forward to Monday Night Football and playing the New York Giants.”

So Groh didn’t answer the question and I can’t really blame him. 

After all, ultimately, the head coach is in charge of figuring out which offensive players are on the field. And Groh’s options were to either admit a mistake or plead insanity.  

Hollins last caught a pass in the Green Bay game back on Sept. 26. Just take a look at how long it took the Eagles to move on from Hollins in the eight games after he stopped catching passes: 

There wasn’t always a direct correlation between the snap counts for these three, but there was certainly a loose correlation. And Hollins’ snaps definitely took away from Arcega-Whiteside’s opportunity. 

I don’t know if Arcega-Whiteside will end up being any good or not. But I do know the Eagles used a second-round pick on him and they should have been more eager to find out earlier. 

In the final eight games of his time with the Eagles, Hollins played 204 snaps and didn’t register a single catch. Sure, a big reason for his lack of production was game plan. The Eagles have other guys they’d rather get the ball to. But for a receiver to be on the field that much and not catch a ball is truly unbelievable. 

And they played him over a second-round pick for over a month! 

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Eagle Eye podcast: LeSean McCoy wants to be remembered as an Eagle

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Eagle Eye podcast: LeSean McCoy wants to be remembered as an Eagle

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Dave Zangaro react to LeSean McCoy saying he wants to retire as an Eagle. 

Plus, breaking down the hire of Marquand Manuel and what it means for the coaching staff. Andrew Berry is gone. And some things you didn’t know about Andy Reid. 

And the guys remember Kobe Bryant and the time he spoke to the 2017 Eagles. 

• Putting Shady’s career into context
• Is he as Hall of Famer? 
• The Marquand Manuel hire 
• Still no offensive coordinator  
• Andrew Berry is gone 
• Things you didn’t know about Reid 
• 2004 Eagles vs. 2019 Chiefs 
• Remembering Kobe Bryant 

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Fix two things and Eagles are a Super Bowl contender

Fix two things and Eagles are a Super Bowl contender

When you look at the Eagles’ roster, it’s definitely one of those good news-bad news type of situations.

The bad news? The Eagles need to completely rebuild wide receiver and cornerback from the ground up.

The wide receiver position is in shambles, with a couple long-ago Pro Bowlers with uncertain futures, a 2nd-rounder who showed little as a rookie, a bus load of practice squad alums and a one-time Super Bowl hero facing free agency after a disastrous season.

The cornerback position is worse, filled with heralded draft picks who’ve underachieved, later-round picks who’ve been inconsistent and veteran free agents who can’t stay healthy.

The good news? Other than those two debacles, they’re in pretty good shape.

This isn’t the worst situation in the world. This isn’t a complete rebuild. There’s a lot to like about the Eagles’ roster.

On offense? There’s an elite quarterback, two electrifying and versatile young running backs, an offensive line stocked with Pro Bowlers and two big-time tight ends.

On defense? There’s a solid if somewhat underachieving defensive line that’s potentially one of the league’s best units. There’s an unspectacular but competent group of linebackers. There are two veteran safeties that both have question marks next to their names but aren’t huge concerns.

Special teams? They’re fine.

You don’t need an all-pro at every position to win a Super Bowl, as we learned in 2017. You just need to be solid across the board, great in a few critical areas, stay relatively healthy and have a coach that knows how to make the whole thing work.

And the reality is the Eagles are good enough everywhere other than cornerback and wide receiver to compete for a Super Bowl.

Granted, the two areas where they need total rebuilds are two of the most important areas in the modern, pass-obsessed NFL.

And that’s not to say there aren’t other needs. The Eagles can get better across the board.

But if Howie Roseman and his staff can figure out wide receiver and cornerback through free agency and the draft, there’s no reason this team can’t be as good as anybody in 2020.

It’s a lot to ask. There’s a reason those two areas are lacking.

Years of poor drafting, poor free agency signings and poor player evaluations have left the roster sorely lacking at corner and receiver.

The Eagles overcame it to win a Super Bowl largely because guys like Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Nelson Agholor had the best seasons of their lives, and free agents like Alshon Jeffery, Torrey Smith and Patrick Robinson played over their heads.

If the Eagles are going to fix these two areas it’s going to have to be through a combination of free agency and the draft.

There are some intriguing corners who could be available in free agency – Chris Harris, Byron Jones, James Bradberry, Trae Waynes. And someone like Robby Anderson would make a lot of sense at WR.

Fair to say the CB issue runs even deeper than WR because at least you can hope DeSean Jackson comes back healthy, although at 33 who knows? And at least Alshon Jeffery is under contract, although there’s a lot of questions there as well. And Greg Ward is at worst a functional slot. So at least there’s a starting point.

Cornerback is a total rebuild. Can you count on getting anything out of Sidney Jones or Rasul Douglas? Do you even want to keep Mills or Darby? Can you get consistent play out of Avonte Maddox or Cre’von LeBlanc? It’s possible – maybe even likely - that neither 2020 starting corner is on the roster right now.  

Don’t get me wrong, there’s definitely a lot of work to be done.

The good news is Roseman has the luxury of being able to focus a good chunk of his energy on two specific areas.

The bad news is that they’re historically his two worst areas.

Which is how the Eagles got into this position in the first place.

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