It's been made abundantly clear to Eagles fans that the organization has no intention of signing another receiver to replace the injured Kevin Curtis, meaning Anquan Boldin or otherwise. Okay, fine. I suppose we'll have to live with that. After all, the Birds' receiving corps turned in a fine performance at Foxboro against the Pats last night, DeSean Jackson in particular. The rookie receiver hauled in 4 passes for 67 yards in the first half, and capped off his big night with an amazing 76-yard punt return for a touchdown (not two minutes after fellow rookie Quintin Demps scored on a 101-yard kickoff return). Jason Avant made a nice grab of a Donovan McNabb laser for a TD, and Hank Baskett would have scored had he not bobbled the ball and fumbled it out of the end zone for a touchback. Greg Lewis even chimed in with a couple nice catches. All in all, a pretty good day's work for a much-maligned receiving corps.
Which brings me to team GM Tom Heckert's comments, printed this morning in the Inquirer. When asked about the team's reluctance to pursue legitimate number 1 receivers, he said, "We all hear it. Everybody hears it. Why don't we have a big stud? But if you can get that out of your mind for one second - I know it's difficult for a lot of people - but we think we have six really, really good receivers." The blatant swipe at the fans in that statement aside (I'll get to that in a bit), let's analyze the part about "six really, really good receivers."
Well, Tom, as of right now, you don't have six receivers. You have four. Kevin Curtis, the number 1, is hurt (maybe you haven't heard), out for at least a month, maybe two, with a debilitating sports hernia, which McNabb and L.J. Smith are certainly familiar with. This injury takes a long time to recover from, and woe to he who attempts to come back too early. This injury cost Donovan his 2005 season, and cost L.J. his 2007 season. It's too early to tell how long Curtis will be out, but don't expect him back anytime soon. Reggie Brown, the number 2, is currently hobbled with a strained left hamstring, and that's a nasty, nagging ailment that tends to worsen with the normal wear and tear of everyday life in the NFL. He isn't expected back until the Sept. 7th opener. So as of right now, our healthy starters are Baskett, Lewis, Avant, and Jackson. And as for the "really, really good part"...come on, Tom, be serious. Hank Baskett shows flashes of talent from time to time, but his end-zone fumble last night threw into sharp relief the fact that he is simply not as reliable as the team wishes he was. In 32 NFL games, Hank has 38 receptions for 606 yards and 3 touchdowns. That's really, really good? Calling Greg Lewis "really really good" is just plain stupid, because he's not. The numbers don't lie: in 24 starts, he has 60 catches for 760 yards...and 1 touchdown (6 in his career). That's really, really good? And Jason Avant? In 23 games, he has 30 receptions for 335 yards and 3 touchdowns. So between the three of them, they have 12 touchdowns. That's really, really good? The only receiver they have right now that other teams should account for is DeSean, as he's shown how agile and lightning-quick he can be, as well as sure-handed. But, he's a rookie. And yes, he's undersized (though this hasn't proven to be a problem). I expect big things out of him, but you can't ask him to step up and be the team's number 1 receiver this early; it's not fair to him, and it paints a big target on his back. So, in terms of raw achievement and statistics, Heckert is sorely mistaken in saying his current receivers are "really, really good."
And now for that little tidbit about how "difficult" it is for "a lot of people" to remove the thought of a legitimate stud receiver from their minds. Since I can only assume that by "a lot of people," you mean "the fans," I guess it is difficult for us, Tom. It's difficult for the fans to stop thinking about what things would be like if we put a Pro Bowler on the field and watched him run over, around, and through opposing secondaries all day, scoring at will. Silly us, we didn't know that that's unrealistic, that that's not what "really really good" receivers do. I guess the "really really good" receivers, since that's what you called the ones you currently have healthy, are the ones who can't get open, who can't run good routes, who aren't reliable pass-catchers, and who haven't lived up to expectations in general. And if they are "really really good," Tom, why have McNabb and Westbrook repeatedly stated the need for more playmakers? And if the front office is truly confident that the team can win the Super Bowl with these receivers, as you stated in today's Inquirer piece, why did you guys make an offer for Randy Moss in the off-season? And when that fell through, why did you inquire about Larry Fitzgerald? And Chad Johnson? And Roy Williams? Seems to me that if you really believed that your receiving corps was "really really good," you wouldn't have bothered with any of these guys.
I realize that we, the fans, are only wasting our breath and energy when we plead for a stud receiver. So for my part, I won't do it anymore. But I will say that I'm sick and tired of the organization taking cheap potshots at the fans. They say we can win the Super Bowl with the receiving corps as it is, but not six months ago, they pursued a who's-who list of Pro Bowl receivers? How stupid does the front office think we are? And last night, basically trundling perpetual yes-man Dave Spadaro out on the sidelines at the game to shill his over-the-top optimistic bullshit and tell the viewers that no new receivers will be looked at? Jesus Christ. You're right, Tom, it is difficult for us fans to not think about how good the team could be with a true number 1 receiver. But don't you dare treat us like morons and act like we're being unreasonable and unrealistic when we say that guys like Baskett, Lewis and Avant aren't the kind of receivers we need, especially when you guys tried to address those needs in the recent past and failed. And as for Cap'n Andy, his terse, standoffish attitude with the fans is getting old. Fast. He may not like constant pleas for a stud receiver, or criticism in general for that matter, but what we don't like is losing games we should win, and shitty, pissy, one-word answers to questions asking why the team lost. You may think our current receivers, those that can still walk anyway, are "really really good," Tom, and I hope that for the team's sake you end up being right. But you made some awfully cavalier comments today, and in them you took a pretty lousy cheap shot at the fans. You better hope and pray that things don't start going south, because after all, if the team wasn't able to sign a stud receiver, who's the guy they'll blame? Take one guess, go ahead. That's right, it's you, the GM! Really really good, Tom. Really really good.