[Editorial note: promoted from the FanPosts.] -- Six months ago back in September when our beloved Eagles were 3-0, it's fair to say I (along with many of you) was overjoyed by the production of our receivers. I was well aware of the small sample size at the time, but man, Nelson Agholor was catching passes and even caught a receiving TD!; if you didn't view the first edition of this post, just know that I was thrilled about this apparent 'new Agholor', who already had half of the amount of receptions in just 3 games (11) than he had all of 2015 (23). Oh yeah, he also had NO drops!! Meanwhile, Jordan Matthews had already accumulated a total of 204 yards and 2 TDs, Zach Ertz had 6 receptions out of 7 targets for 58 yards through 3 games, and Darren Sproles was wheeling and dealing for 160 receiving yards and 1 TD. This was truly the start of a new era in Eagles history, right? Wrong. It was all a mirage, you see.
** Glossary** GP= Games Played | REC= Receptions | YPC/R= Yards Per Catch/ Receptions | YAC= Yards After Catch | Fum= Fumbles ** Also, as you may notice there are different shades of gray; the lighter shade is used for our TEs, and the darker shade is used for our RBs who are occasionally used as receivers.
In 3 games, former 1st round pick Nelson Agholor already had 120 yards; remember, he had 283 total yards in 2015. If one follows statistical trends, then that person would naturally assume that Nelson surpassed his total yards in 2015 since he was already half-way there in 2016 after just 3 games. Nelson did indeed pass 283 yards by the end of the 2016 season, but he finished with a whopping 365. To put this in perspective, in the remaining 12 games that Nelson played he averaged 20 yards a game. Safety Malcolm Jenkins had as many INTs (3) during the 2016 season as Agholor has had thus far in his career.
It's hard to envision what Chip Kelly saw in Agholor when reading over his strengths and weaknesses coming out of college-- lack of physicality, struggles as a run-blocker, especially when considering that he chose him over guys like CB Byron Jones, LB Landon Collins, and Mychal Kendricks' more talented brother, ILB Eric Kendricks. Perhaps if Chip didn't get rid of DeSean Jackson, or fought to keep Maclin, then Agholor would have been a fine 4th option, but to invest that high in a player who had questionable skills and put him alongside a receiver who hadn't yet netted 1000 yards is a head-scratcher, to say the least.
He consistently negated potential big plays this season (again), and certainly played a significant role in Wentz's numbers being lower than they should have been-- fewer TDs, 15+ yard plays, etc.
We all remember this play that erased an Ertz TD, and also any momentum we had in what was a close game in Seattle. Agholor was so bad this season (again) that coach Pederson decided to bench him due to 'psychological issues'. It turns out his benching was a positive move that lasted a total of 5 minutes, as Agholor went back to dropping passes in his 1st return. But let's not get too fixated on Agholor's problems because he certainly isn't the only one on this roster with stone- hands. (Agholor GIF via @JimmyKempski)
Next up is Jordan "this will be his year!!" Matthews. For consecutive seasons now, there has been much debate surrounding Jordan Matthews and the reasons for his rather consistent woes: He hasn't had a stable QB situation! There's too much pressure on him to perform since we don't have any good receivers!! Chip got rid of all the good black players!
In 2014, Jordan Matthews was ranked as a top 20 receiver in receiving TDs, and 36th overall out of 433 in receiving yards. In 2016, he was ranked 76th overall in receiving TDs finishing with just 3, and 48th in receiving yards. His most glaring numbers this year were such: 3 TDs, 1 fumble, 6 drops. I've always respected his work ethic, and this continues to be another excuse many fans elude to when discussing his potential, but these numbers are flat out ridiculous for all of the wrong reasons. For a player who works so hard, it's difficult to fathom his lack of quality production, unless of course we accept the fact that every player isn't destined to become an elite player when they're at their peak. In 3 seasons, Jordan Matthews has yet to hit the 1,000 yds mark (yes, he was really close in 2015!) and surpass 10 TDs. With this, I've maintained my belief that JMatt is no more than a 2nd option, probably most comfortable as a 3rd. While he makes good plays from time to time, his flaws overshadow any production, imo. Furthermore, I think it's fair to say that we've seen JMatt hit his peak when he wasn't a 1st option while playing alongside Maclin. The Eagles will certainly have to think deeply when assessing JMatt's upcoming potential contract extension, nonetheless.
Awful, ill-advised drops have become far too common with JMatt, much like Agholor. Unlike Agholor, however, Jordan Matthews' strengths coming out of college haven't really appeared to come to fruition in the pros, such as his soft hands and sticky fingers.
It's beyond incomprehensible to understand why he's capable of making a fine play, followed by a rookie brain-fart the very next despite his time in the league.
I won't do too much on Jordan since King Haan recently dedicated an entire FanPost to him. I'll end saying Jordan's inability to toe- tap alone is worthy of devaluing his skills, and a variable as to why now-former WR coach Greg Lewis was fired, I'm sure.
Speaking of 3rd options, the Eagles decided to try things out with Dorial Green-Beckham; a move that received a pretty good reception considering who we traded him for. If I learned anything, however, it's to take some things as they are: Beckham was criticized in Tennessee for playing with minimal effort and failing to work to maximize his skills, which I comically thought could be comparable to a player like Josh Gordon, given their similar body types. We all saw the same results, so I won't go in-depth about Beckham. Let's just continue with the term "mental midget" when assessing his game thus far. He had the potential to become Wentz's most dangerous red-zone target due to his size, and instead allowed receivers a foot smaller to out-physical him (is that a word?). The appeal was a guy who could jump up and grab passes, but that was rarely the case. He actually regressed from his 2015 rookie campaign, where he had over 500 yards and 4 TDs. As the chart shows, he and Agholor had very similar, unappealing stats this past season. Given the small investment, I wouldn't say he's worth dumping but I highly doubt he will be an Eagle beyond the 2017 season. We were expecting to see this
but to no avail. I previously mentioned he's a big body receiver that just needs to work on body and hand control more, and my analysis hasn't changed one bit. At this point, it's merely a summary of the kid.
TE Zach Ertz was our most productive player on offense as the chart shows, eclipsing more yards and TDs than Jordan Matthews, but he hasn't earned the nickname 'Mr. December' for no reason so I decided to dig a little deeper when looking at his numbers. He finished with 816 yards and 4 TDs, but 364 of those yards came in the remaining 4 games, along with 2 TDs. Prior to our matchup with Washington in December, Zach hadn't reached 100 yards in a single game. Though the numbers tell otherwise, I truly believe Trey Burton was just as productive as Ertz when targeted; he was rarely targeted throughout the duration of the season, but when his targets went up, so did his receptions and yards on a consistent basis rather than for only 4 games out of 16.
Oh, Josh Huff, Ye.
Allow this to be a brief intermission period, which will be used as an Ode to Brent Celek, my fav
This stud here, Darren Sproles, had more receiving yards and a better catching % than Agholor and Beckham; he's a RB (first). His preparation and versatility is admirable. I hope the Eagles can get him a ring before it's all said and done, as his NFL days are sadly nearing an end. He's been more available than the younger Ryan Mathews and certainly more disciplined. We're fortunate to have his presence while we develop Wendell Smallwood who has similar skill-sets, nonetheless.
The numbers are available for our other receiving options, none of which are worthy of diving deeply in. I'll just say this: Paul Turner appears to be the crux of jokes when talking about the Eagles 'savior', but I don't want to undermine 9 receptions out of 14 targets and 126 yards in 4 games. He isn't an amazingly athletic player nor does he have unique physical traits, but I value his work-ethics and overall, what he brings to this team when given the opportunity. He'll never be more than a 3rd option and likely won't even make the 53 again, but respect to the man for showing up when his number was called. I'm glad he at least got a chance.
Lastly, like the first post, I'd like to end this post analyzing Wentz and his what he brings to this team. In his pre-season debut, I immediately fell in love with Carson's demeanor and drive to be proficient. He appeared poised right out the gate, reacting well to pressure and making adjustments with the throw.
He showed us the ability to step through the pressure and hit his target, scramble when necessary (as shown above in the Pitt GIF), and stand tall in the pocket when given the protection.
I posted some similarities and differences between Sam Bradford and Carson Wentz in the 1st edition of this post, and feel it's relevant to quote. **Note: remember this was 3 games in, so the numbers have since then changed)
Looking in to the numbers, Carson Wentz has been sacked a total 4 times thus far for 18 yards, while Sam Bradford has been sacked 6 times for 50 total yards with the Vikings. Mobility definitely seems to be a huge factor in these numbers, as Sam typically does not scramble.
Notice the Passing Yards After Catch stat (423)... it seems to indicate that Carson is placing the ball in a way that allows his receivers to gain significant yardage after the catch at a more successful rate than Bradford. Remember the hits our receivers would take going up for a Bradford pass [or Mark Sanchez for that matter]?
Carson finished with 1,831 PYAC (Passing Yards After Catch) and 3,782 total passing yards. 2016 MVP Matt Ryan, who made his NFL debut in 2008, didn't reach 3,720 passing yards until the 2011 season and he had FHOFs Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez prior to that year. For another comparison, Dak Prescott finished with 1,534 PYAC and 3,667 passing yards. Carson finished with 23.7 passing completions per game to Dak's 19.4. Carson was victim to 33 sacks and 253 passing yards lost to penalties, to Dak's 25 sacks and 101 passing yards lost. Carson wasn't flawless by any means, but to see his numbers in numerous categories be better than OROY Dak's despite his lack of OL and receiving help is both encouraging and frustrating.
As mentioned above, it's quite disappointing looking at Carson's numbers including his 16 TDs to 14 INTs when considering the number of TD drops by our receivers, to name a few. I believe he would have reached 20 TDs (and less INTs) and 4,000 yards easy had guys made simple plays. This is why it's so critical for the organization to get Carson help: I want to believe this is Carson's floor, and if it is then watch out NFL. If the FO is able to get him help, then Carson can represent the new wave of QBs in the NFL, leading the Eagles to multiple playoff appearances again and hopefully a Lombardi trophy. I love the fact that he's working with QB guru Adam Dedeaux to work on his mechanics which occasionally were flawed throughout the season. Hopefully this training will pay off. I'm confident they will.
Well, this post is always longer than anticipated so I'll end it with Carson's 2016 stats. My motive for doing this 2nd edition post is to statistically understand why it's important we get Carson help. Fans continue to do mock drafts, and we constantly debate about who the Eagles should target in FA solely because of the lack of quality options on the team. The numbers correlate with the lack of production, and fortunately it appears the organization is well aware of this given recent rumors to potential WR acquisitions. Anyway, thank you all for reading through this. If you guys enjoy this post, then I'll be more than happy to stick with the routine going in to the 2017 season and beyond (2 editions, beginning of the season and end). Until then, GO EAGLES except Agholor.