Alshon Jeffery isn’t going to come anywhere near his career high of 89 catches, and DeSean Jackson isn’t going to come anywhere near his career best of 82.
Zach Ertz set an NFL tight ends record with 116 catches last year but that figure is likely to plunge.
With four legit receivers, two big-time tight ends and a stable of talented of running backs — and just one football — Doug Pederson is facing quite a challenge.
Keeping everybody happy.
Combine the Eagles’ unprecedented offensive skill depth with Pederson’s insistence on spreading the ball around and you have a potentially tricky situation.
To run offense the way Pederson wants, you need complete buy-in and that's not always easy, because stats equal money.
Stats get guys to Pro Bowls. Stats trigger incentives. Stats get guys big new contracts.
They don’t win championships.
We won a championship without a [1,000]-yard receiver [or] 1,000-yard rusher. It can be done. You can move the ball around a little bit and still be successful.
The Eagles won a championship because Jay Ajayi and LeGarrette Blount set aside personal goals to do whatever the team needed. As did Jeffery, Ertz, Nelson Agholor and everybody else on that unforgettable 2017 team.
The Eagles didn’t even have a running back with 800 rushing yards that year or a wide receiver with 800 receiving yards.
But they had the No. 2 offense in the NFL at 29 points per game. And a parade.
Pederson knows it’s not always easy for skill guys to sacrifice personal accomplishments for team goals. No wide receiver or running back has made a Pro Bowl under Pederson, and no back or receiver has come close to a 1,000-yard season.
But the Eagles win. A lot.
The key for Pederson is constant communication with his guys and continually reminding them of the bigger picture.
Because even the most unselfish guy in the world wants the ball.
You need special people to play in this kind of system. Pederson believes the Eagles have them.
Those are the conversations you just got to have with them. You just have to sit down and say, ‘Listen, there's going to be times when you get either no targets, one target, you might get 10 targets. The bottom line is winning the game, and how are you helping us win the game?’ It just has to come through a lot of conversation and just making sure, even schematically on offense, that as we put game plans together, we keep all those guys in mind. We've got to because that's the beauty of where we are, having multiple weapons on offense.
Look at the math.
The Eagles have averaged about 23½ completed passes per game in three years under Pederson.
If you give Ertz eight catches, Jeffery and Agholor five each, Dallas Goedert and Jackson four each and Darren Sproles and the other running backs six, that’s 32 catches.
Somebody isn’t going to get as many catches as they want.
There's just one ball, and [I need to] communicate that to players. If defenses come in here and want to take DeSean away, then you got two tight ends and two other receivers and running backs that you can kind of exploit and get touches to. So it all kind of gets predicated on how teams want to approach us and how to attack us.
The Eagles haven’t had a 1,000-yard wide receiver in a season they won a playoff game since T.O. in 2004.
They haven’t had a 1,000-yard rusher in a season they won a playoff game since Brian Westbrook in 2006.
Eagles running backs and wide receivers might not be what you’re looking for on your fantasy team, but balance is a heck of a recipe for success.
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