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Sunday Problems with Saturday Solutions: Big plays still in short supply

Problem solving.

Navy v Memphis Photo by Joe Murphy/Getty Images

The Eagles eked out a win on Sunday against the Bears but the flaws were abound. Despite getting out to an early lead in the first half, the offense shuttered while the defense could not hold the Bears forever, eventually allowing to close the game within one score. While some focus was given to the defense’s proclivity to allow big plays, the offense should have never let up on the gas to give the Bears a chance to close the gap. Week-to-week, it is increasingly clear the Eagles need a massive overhaul in their passing game.

Zach Ertz and Miles Sanders are the only two truly dynamic players in the Eagles passing game and neither of them are going to provide much needed juice on the outside. Alshon Jeffery looks slow and the best asset he’s ever had has faded as he continues to drop all kinds of passes. Nelson Agholor is averaging 17 yards per game over the last six weeks. With DeSean Jackson done for the year and the rest of the receivers wallowing in mediocrity, the Eagles are in a bad spot.

Adding speed to the offense is a must. There are pieces in place like Sanders and Ertz who will contribute for a long time and JJ Arcega-Whiteside is still a toss-up on whether he develops into a contributor. Regardless, the likelihood is that the Eagles will need two new wide receivers next year.

Saturday’s college games should provide an ounce of hope. One player who grabbed national attention is Memphis’ Antonio Gibson. The 6’2”, 220 pound senior had a monstrous game against ranked SMU where he six passes for 130 yards and a touchdown, rushed three times for 97 yards and a touchdown and chipped in a 97 yard touchdown return on a kick off, one of his three return attempts. For those keeping score, Gibson touched the ball 12 times all game and accumulated 386 yards and three touchdowns.

Look how this big bodied receiver moves with the ball in his hands.

Gibson made plays as a deep threat, after the catch and any other time the ball touched his hands. Currently, the senior wideout is leading the country in yards per reception at a 25.3 yard clip on 19 catches. He should be on everyone’s watch list after Saturday’s stellar game and it will be interesting to see what he does the rest of the season.

Across the country, Isaiah Hodgins quietly continues to be one of the best players in the country. The big bodied junior has the misfortune of playing for Oregon State where little attention is paid from year to year. However, he is making them a must watch team with dominant games week after week.

Seven catches for 150 yards and two touchdowns is a walk in the park for Hodgins. He is too big to man up for most cornerbacks but too quick to give cushion and space to. Hodgins is an athletic receiver who consistently bodies cornerbacks. His dominance this season should propel him into first round conversation, even as this wide receiver class tends to fill up.

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