It is fashionable, taking the pulse of the public and media this week in the wake of Sunday's loss to Seattle and preceding the prime-time NFC East showdown against Dallas, to take the Eagles' wide receiver corps to task. The suggestion is out there that the Eagles aren't good enough at wide receiver to win big in this league, and press conferences with coaches have, in part, covered the A To Z of Riley Cooper and what he brings to the offense.
Understood. We saw the way Seattle closed out the offense on Sunday. The passing game wasn't there. It's fair to note that the running game wasn't there, either, which is why head coach Chip Kelly and offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur and every offensive player who has talked to a reporter this week has said the same thing: The lack of production was an offense-wide thing, not centered on any one phase or any singular player.
On a more global view, the coaching staff has said repeatedly that the wide receivers are playing well, and that the changes the Eagles made in the offseason have worked out just fine. The numbers - just the facts, please - bear that out.
Here is your key paragraph: In terms of production from the top three wide receivers of each team - and in the Eagles' case it's Jeremy Maclin, Cooper and Jordan Matthews - the Eagles rank:
Fourth in the NFL in receptions, with 176
Seventh in the NFL in receiving yards, with 2,288
Fifth in the NFL in receiving touchdowns, with 18
Denver and Green Bay are the only two teams that rank higher than the Eagles in all three categories.
Furthermore, the Eagles can point to production from the wide receivers against the "better" defenses, with the exception of the Seattle game. Maclin had 11 catches, 187 yards and two touchdowns in Arizona, and Cooper caught 5 passes for 88 yards and Matthews added 6 and 47 as quarterback Nick Foles threw for 411 yards. At San Francisco, the offense had little success for most of the day and the running game was limited to 22 yards, but Cooper had 6 catches and 54 yards and Maclin caught 5 passes for 68 yards.
In the Week 2 win at Indianapolis, the Eagles gained 458 total yards of offense and Foles threw for 331 yards. The Eagles moved the ball up and down the field, scored 30 points and showed just how valuable Darren Sproles is to the offense.
On Thanksgiving in the win at Dallas, the Eagles went to the passing game early and took a lead and then turned the offense over to the running game, which gained 256 yards. Maclin caught 8 passes for 101 yards, Matthews had 4 and 51 and Cooper caught 4 passes for 32 yards.
Finally, there's this: The output from the top three wide receivers has topped the 2013 production - when the Eagles set a franchise record for points scored and led the NFL in explosive plays and running the football - by 9 catches already, and is just 326 yards and one touchdown shy of the top three receivers (DeSean Jackson, Cooper and Jason Avant) with three games to play.
This isn't to suggest that everything has been perfect for the offense. It hasn't. The Eagles have had some injuries and some inconsistency, and they've played with two quarterbacks. It's also not meant to cement the idea that the Eagles are set at wide receiver for the future, because Kelly always wants to challenge his roster.
It's just that the wide receivers here have been productive, and that the coaches are telling the truth when they say so.