Eagles

What if the Eagles hadn't drafted Nelson Agholor?

What if the Eagles hadn't drafted Nelson Agholor?

Nelson Agholor is just a year-and-a-half removed from being the 20th overall pick in the NFL draft.

It's safe to say the Eagles' second-year receiver has been a disappointment. Agholor has posted just 44 catches for 499 yards with two touchdowns in 20 NFL games. He's also had only four catches over 20 yards and averaged just 11.3 yards per catch.

Looking back at that draft, Chip Kelly, in his first and only season as the team's GM, made a terrible mistake: He drafted for need. With Jeremy Maclin's leaving in free agency after posting 85 catches for 1,318 yards and 10 touchdowns, the Eagles desperately needed help at wide receiver. Many projected Agholor to be Maclin's ideal replacement. That has not come to fruition.

Looking at the picks after No. 20, there really weren't many great options. Here is a list of the players taken after Agholor in the first round:

21. Bengals: Cedric Ogbuehi, OT, Texas A&M

22. Steelers: Bud Dupree, OLB, Kentucky      

23. Broncos (from Lions): Shane Ray, DE, Missouri     

24. Cardinals: D.J. Humphries, OT, Florida

25. Panthers: Shaq Thompson, OLB, Washington       

26. Ravens: Breshad Perriman, WR, Central Florida

27. Cowboys: Byron Jones, CB, Connecticut 

28. Lions (from Broncos): Laken Tomlinson, OG, Duke           

29. Colts: Phillip Dorsett, WR, Miami           

30. Packers: Damarious Randall, FS, Arizona State  

31. Saints (from Seahawks): Stephone Anthony, ILB              

32. Patriots: Malcom Brown, DT, Texas

There really isn't much to swoon over here. There are only four picks that would've been definitively better: Byron Jones, Damarious Randall, Stephone Anthony and Malcom Brown. With Anthony, you can't complain too much because Chip would go on to draft Jordan Hicks two rounds later. You can't really complain about Brown either with Fletcher Cox and Bennie Logan in the fold. 

Jones, an athletic freak, has turned into an important piece of the Cowboys' surprising secondary. Randall has potential and would be an upgrade over just about any corner on the Eagles' roster (although he is currently sidelined with a groin injury).

Many Eagles fans were clamoring for offensive linemen, which is fair considering Lane Johnson was the only lineman the team drafted during Kelly's tenure. None of the linemen taken after Agholor have really panned out either.

The two receivers are kind of mired in the same spot as Agholor. Breshad Perriman's issue has simply been health. He missed his entire rookie season with a partially torn PCL. During this training camp, he partially tore his ACL, but he's made the decision to play through the injury.

What's scary is that Perriman's numbers aren't that far off from Agholor's. Perriman this season has 14 catches for 183 yards. So Agholor has only seven more catches and 33 more yards than a guy who suffered an ACL injury in training camp. Perriman also has three catches of 20-plus yards to Agholor's one. That's troubling.

The other receiver is Phillip Dorsett. Dorsett is a burner, but he hasn't exploded on the scene like many thought he would in the Colts' offense. Dorsett has 36 catches for 511 yards and two touchdowns in 18 career games. Like Agholor, Dorsett has struggled to get open. Unlike Agholor, Dorsett has also been kept off the top of the depth chart by T.Y. Hilton and Donte Moncrief.

Maybe Jones or Randall could have flourished in the Eagles' secondary. Maybe if the Eagles had taken Perriman and he stayed healthy, he would have provided them a legitimate deep threat. Maybe had they taken Dorsett, he would have performed better with the volume of reps Agholor has received. 

Unfortunately, the Eagles can't deal in hypotheticals, as a certain head coach used to say. Agholor was the pick and he's likely here to stay. It's now up to Howie Roseman to clean up another Chip Kelly mess and get Carson Wentz a legitimate receiver.

Doug Pederson's struggles at heart of disappointing season

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Doug Pederson's struggles at heart of disappointing season

It’s easy to dismiss this year as a Super Bowl letdown or Super Bowl hangover, whatever you want to call it.

Short offseason … injuries … coaching changes … it was inevitable.

All Super Bowl champs go through the same challenges a year later. They lose good coaches. They're faced with a much shorter offseason. They hit the banquet circuit and write books. They have the proverbial bulls-eye on their back the next fall.

But most Super Bowl teams don’t do this. 

The reality is that the 2018 season has become one of the most disappointing seasons in recent Eagles history because Super Bowl teams a year later rarely – very rarely – struggle the way the Eagles have struggled.

This year should have been about getting back in the playoffs and making another deep run. Not scuffling just to try to get back to .500, getting swept by the Cowboys and being unable to find any offensive consistency.

Since the NFL’s current playoff system went into effect in 1990, only nine Super Bowl champions have failed to reach the playoffs the next season, and only two have had a losing record – the 1998 Broncos and the 2002 Buccaneers.

Two in almost three decades.

Since the inception of the Super Bowl back in 1966, the average Super Bowl team a year later has had a .709 winning percentage, and the win totals have varied because of shorter seasons until 1977 and two strike seasons, but .709 in today’s NFL means roughly 11 ½ wins.

That’s what the typical Super Bowl team does a year later. Wins 11 or 12 games. Goes to the playoffs. Makes a run. Continues the momentum.

All of which really adds some clarity and perspective to just how disappointing this mess of a 2018 season is.

The Eagles are 6-7. Unless they win their last three games, they’ll be only 10th Super Bowl champion in half a century of Super Bowls not to register a winning record the next year.

If they lose two of their last three, which is certainly a possibility considering they face the 11-2 Rams and 9-4 Texans next, they’ll be only the third Super Bowl champ in the last 30 years to finish with a losing record.

And the first two were the 1999 Broncos – in the first year after John Elway retired – and the 2003 Buccaneers, who haven’t won a playoff game since their 2002 Super Bowl title.

It wasn't supposed to be like this.

If you win a Super Bowl, you’re an elite team with elite players and elite coaches and you don’t find yourself sitting 6-7 and searching for answers with three weeks to go.

And there’s no one easy reason the Eagles find themselves likely to go down as one of the bigger disappointments among Super Bowl champions throughout history.

Carson Wentz is clearly not all the way back physically. The injuries that have decimated the defense can’t be ignored. The losses of Frank Reich and John DeFilippo hurt a lot.

But ultimately it all goes back to Doug Pederson.

He’s just been a bad coach this year.

That magical concoction of aggressiveness, confidence, swagger, and daring has disappeared. The magic play-calling touch is gone. The ability to brilliantly utilize all the Eagles’ offensive personnel has evaporated.

The Eagles consistently found ways last year to take over games because Pederson had this uncanny instinct for finding ways to apply tremendous pressure on opposing defenses with his creativity and innovation.

What happened to that? It’s just gone. When’s the last time an Eagles’ play call wowed you? Or caught an opposing defense completely off-guard?

A year later, Doug’s offense looks predictable, uninspired and conventional.

Stale.

This team week after week is unprepared and out of sorts for the first quarter or first half.

This is all on Doug.

Now, Doug’s not going anywhere. Not for a while.

Super Bowl LII earned him at least a couple more years to get this thing going again. But I do expect changes on the coaching staff, and offensive coordinator Mike Groh is an obvious candidate.

But what really has to change is Doug. He has to rediscover that magical touch that carried the Eagles last year or next year won’t be any better.

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Eagles’ defense plays record number of snaps

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Eagles’ defense plays record number of snaps

ARLINGTON, Texas — The Cowboys were on the field for 45:33 in the Eagles’ 29-23 overtime loss at AT&T Stadium on Sunday afternoon. 

It was the second highest time of possession ever against the Eagles. 

And it certainly showed up in the snap counts. 

The Eagles’ defense played an incredible 99 total snaps. Thirteen of those plays came in overtime, but even if this game ended in regulation, the Eagles still would have played a season high. 

As it turns out, the 99 defensive snaps is the most the team has played under Jim Schwartz or previous defensive coordinator Billy Davis. The previous high under Schwartz was 89 vs. the Giants in 2016. Davis’ defense once played 95 against Oakland in 2013. 

This game came the week after the defense played just 45 snaps, the fewest in the Schwartz Era. 

Malcolm Jenkins, Corey Graham, Rasul Douglas and Nigel Bradham played all 99 on Sunday.

Other defensive snap count notes: 

- Josh Sweat left the game with an ankle injury after six snaps, which left a three-man DE rotation. Brandon Graham played 83, Michael Bennett 74 and Chris Long 58. 

- Fletcher Cox played 79 snaps. His previous season-high was 65. But, then again, a lot of players had season highs in snaps on Sunday. 

- Sidney Jones played 37 snaps before getting pulled again late because of his lingering hamstring injury. De’Vante Bausby replaced him and played 61 snaps. Both players were beaten on touchdowns by Amari Cooper. 

Offensive snap count notes: 

- Darren Sproles led the way for running backs with 22 of 52 snaps (42 percent), while Josh Adams had 21, Wendell Smallwood had four and Corey Clement had four before leaving with a knee injury. Adams had a big run early but finished with just seven carries for 36 yards.

- Alshon Jeffery played 51 snaps and had six catches for 50 yards and a touchdown. Nelson Agholor had 49 snaps with two catches for 49 yards. His long was a 42-yarder that set up the touchdown at the end of regulation. 

- Dallas Goedert played 31 snaps and made the most of them. He had four catches for 44 yards and a touchdown and should have had a 75-yarder that got called back for a bogus OPI. 

- Golden Tate played just 20 snaps (38 percent) and had one catch for seven yards. Hard to not look across the sideline and see what Amari Cooper did. He played 90 snaps and had 10 catches for 217 yards and three touchdowns. Safe to say that trade is looking better than the Tate trade. 

Offense 

Brandon Brooks: 52 snaps (100 percent)
Lane Johnson: 52 (100)
Carson Wentz: 52 (100)
Jason Peters: 52 (100)
Alshon Jeffery: 51 (98)
Nelson Agholor: 49 (94)
Jason Kelce: 49 (94)
Zach Ertz: 44 (85)
Dallas Goedert: 31 (60)
Stefen Wisniewski: 30 (58)
Isaac Seumalo: 25 (48)
Darren Sproles: 22 (42)
Josh Adams: 21 (40)
Golden Tate: 20 (38)
Jordan Matthews 11 (21)
Wendell Smallwood: 4 (8)
Corey Clement: 4 (8)
Richard Rodgers: 2 (4)
Halapoulivaati Vaitai: 1 (2)

Defense 

Malcolm Jenkins: 99 snaps (100 percent)
Corey Graham: 99 (100)
Rasul Douglas: 99 (100)
Nigel Bradham: 99 (100)
Brandon Graham: 83 (84)
Fletcher Cox: 79 (80)
Michael Bennett: 74 (75)
Cre’Von LeBlanc: 71 (72)
Kamu Grugier-Hill: 64 (65)
De’Vante Bausby: 61 (62)
Chris Long: 58 (59)
Haloti Ngata: 46 (46)
Sidney Jones: 37 (37)
Treyvon Hester: 32 (32)
Tre Sullivan: 31 (31)
Nate Gerry: 29 (29)
Bruce Hector: 20 (20)
Josh Sweat: 6 (6)
LaRoy Reynolds: 1 (1)
Deiondre’ Hall: 1 (1)

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