Here’s a video of me celebrating when the Eagles drafted Stanford WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside with the 53rd overall pick of the 2019 NFL Draft.
So anyway this is when I crashed the stream bc the Eagles picked J-JAW pic.twitter.com/P0VuwmroHk— Benjamin Solak (@BenjaminSolak) April 28, 2019
I was a fan of J.J. Arcega-Whiteside — one of the biggest. I own that, and I’ll learn from that.
NOT FOR NOTHING, but DK Metcalf was a Top-10 player on my board. Of course, Eagles fans never seem to care about that much.
The Eagles selected Arcega-Whiteside with the 53rd pick, and he has yet to hit 53 receiving yards 10 weeks into his sophomore season. The speed and intensity with which Arcega-Whiteside busted is the stuff of legend: he was never good, not even once.
But this article isn’t just a J-JAW bash (it kinda is). Rather, it’s a deep dive into Philadelphia’s favorite “What If?” of recent football memory, the rallying cry of every distraught Eagles fan in the wake of another devastating, dumbfounding loss: what if the Eagles had done the painfully obvious thing on that fateful April night in Nashville, and drafted DK Metcalf instead of
J.J. Arcega-Whiteside literally anyone else?
For an undertaking like this, you need guidelines. It isn’t enough to say that the Eagles would be better, and it is closer, but still not enough to say they would be a lot better. To treat this question with the care it deserves, we need to go game by game and consider the impact that one fully functional, ever dangerous Metcalf would have had.
For each game, we’ll list the final score, the top Eagles receiver’s stat line, and Metcalf’s stat line from the same week for Seattle. We won’t give the Eagles’ Metcalf’s production outright — we’ll just kinda look at it and feel it out. If we’re particularly pissed at the Eagles for losing that game, we’ll still make them lose. If we think they got screwed by the refs, and it was kinda close, we’ll make them win. That kinda thing.
Will we make up hypothetical stat lines for Metcalf? Yes. Will they be realistic? If you’re still reading to this point, you don’t really care about that, do you?
Is Metcalf replacing JJAW one-to-one? Not really. And I mean, replacing JJAW is essentially catching one slant every five games and recovering a Miles Sanders fumble for a touchdown. With that said, we will still be calculating Metcalf’s WAJJAW — that’s his Wins Above J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Mostly because I like the acronym.
That’s pretty much it. No real rules. Just trying to figure out exactly how sad I should be.
Eagles’ leading receiver: DeSean Jackson (9 targets, 8 catches, 154 yards, 2 touchdowns)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 4 catches, 89 yards
The Eagles won this game, and with DeSean healthy, wouldn’t even have really needed Metcalf in this one. Remember this game? Remember when things looked good?
Philadelphia Eagles: 20-24 @ Atlanta Falcons
Eagles’ leading receiver: Nelson Agholor (11 targets, 8 catches, 107 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 7 targets, 3 receptions, 61 yards, 1 touchdown
This was the first of many games (first of two consecutive weeks, as well) that the Eagles had a wide receiver drop a game-winning touchdown.
This week, it was Nelson Agholor, believed to have exorcised his demons during the drop-free 2018 season. On an otherwise strong performance, Agholor did that which he always seemed to do in the clutch when he was an Eagle: he dropped his highest-leverage target of the day, an in-stride vertical ball on the sideline that would have spelled a footrace to the end zone.
When watching this play live, I thought it was a miscommunication between Oliver and Neal. While Neal should be more aware of the coverage and drop deeper, Oliver can't allow Agholor to accelerate downfield so easily. What a break for the Falcons. pic.twitter.com/UPW39bI13G— Allen Strk (@Allen_Strk) September 19, 2019
With a score, the Eagles take a 3 point lead, and turn things over to the defense to an Atlanta team with all three timeouts and just under 2 minutes to go. Maybe they would have won; maybe not. In that it is our first coin-flip game, we’ll give the Eagles the dub.
Philadelphia Eagles: 24-27 v. Detroit Lions
Eagles’ leading receiver: Nelson Agholor (12 targets, 8 catches, 50 yards, 2 touchdowns)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 2 receptions, 67 yards
And our second stop on the Early Season Backbreaking Drops Tour. If you don’t remember, this is the game that ended J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s career. Not really, but probably.
With 49 seconds left in a three point game, Arcega-Whiteside saw his seventh career target in what could have been a defining moment: single coverage, a bit of separation, two yards out from paydirt and infamy.
For the second week an Eagles comeback is derailed by a drop pic.twitter.com/qQH5ZISKD0— Tyler Jackson (@TjackRH) September 22, 2019
Suffice to say that, even with a quality Agholor performance, exchanging Metcalf for JJAW straight up would have spelled a 31-27 win for Philadelphia, even with Metcalf not having the best hands in the world. This is a fantasy land, so we’re able to claim he caught it, and from then on, was trusted completely by Carson Wentz and the coaching staff.
Philadelphia Eagles: 34-27 @ Green Bay Packers
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (9 targets, 3 catches, 38 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 4 targets, 1 reception, 6 yards
The Eagles won this game, but none of their WRs were even that good, so a bad Metcalf game doesn’t really matter.
Philadelphia Eagles: 31-6 v. New York Jets
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (8 targets, 6 catches, 52 yards)
DK Metcalf: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 44 yards, 1 touchdown
It was the Luke Falk led Jets, nothing mattered.
Philadelphia Eagles: 20-38 @ Minnesota Vikings
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (12 targets, 10 catches, 76 yards, 1 touchdowns)
DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 69 yards
Okay, so here we have an honest-to-goodness loss, even with a good WR performance from Alshon. For any who have eliminated the game from their memory banks: the Eagles gave up back-to-back 50+ yard touchdown receptions to Stefon Diggs and Jake Elliott threw a pick. It was a really dumb game, and not even DK Metcalf can fix dumb.
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-37 @ Dallas Cowboys
Eagles’ leading receiver: Nelson Agholor (3 targets, 2 catches, 24 yards)
DK Metcalf: 9 targets, 4 receptions, 53 yards
The Eagles WRs absolutely blew in this one, and no Metcalfian effort would have turned this losing effort around.
Or could it have?
Philadelphia Eagles: 31-13 @ Buffalo Bills
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (6 targets, 4 catches, 64 yards)
DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 13 yards, 2 touchdowns
There were 20 MPH gusts in this game. Would have liked to have seen a 18 yard rocket of a deep dig from Wentz to Metcalf anyway. Win.
Philadelphia Eagles: 22-14 v. Chicago Bears
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (8 targets, 4 receptions, 36 yards)
DK Metcalf: 9 targets, 6 receptions, 123 yards, 1 touchdown
I do not remember this game, and am stunned that it exists. Win.
Philadelphia Eagles: 10-17 v. New England Patriots
Eagles’ leading receiver: Nelson Agholor (9 targets, 4 receptions, 40 yards)
DK Metcalf: 10 targets, 6 receptions, 70 yards
And we’re back to our regularly scheduled programming of critical Eagles drops. The culprit this week was once again Nelson Agholor, who saw this absolute teardrop of an end line pass from Carson Wentz slip right through his fingers.
4th & 10, Wentz heaves it to Nelson Agholor who NEARLY comes down with it in the back of the end zone. But he doesn't, which gives the #Patriots the ball back with :58 seconds left in the game. pic.twitter.com/0Ug6VoDZtb— Devon Clements (@DevclemNFL) November 18, 2019
Would Metcalf run this route from the slot? Probably not. But the Eagles got absolutely zero production out of their wideouts in this game, so maybe they wouldn’t have been down 7 late — and if Metcalf were around, they wouldn’t have been running this play anyway.
Now, assuming we force overtime, we have to lose this coin flip, because we won the Atlanta one. But you can just call it a win in your heart to feel better.
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-17 v. Seattle Seahawks
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (7 targets, 6 catches, 40 yards)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 35 yards
Interesting one here. If you take Metcalf’s pedestrian performance away from the Seahawks, they likely score the same 17 points they did in the game — but if you add Metcalf to the Eagles, can they score an extra 8 and make this a game?
Probably not. I don’t know who the Seahwaks would have drafted at 64 were Metcalf unavailable. Let’s call it Terry McLaurin and pretend he went for 8/75/1 against the Birds. That’s just their luck.
Philadelphia Eagles: 31-37 @ Miami Dolphins
Eagles’ leading receiver: Alshon Jeffery (16 targets, 9 catches, 137 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 75 yards
There was a pretty critical drop in this game — Zach Ertz dropped a nice one in the end zone — but it wasn’t enough to make a difference, and it wasn’t a WR anyway. We’ll always remember this game as the last time Alshon Jeffery was, you know, a thing.
Philadelphia Eagles: 23-17 v. New York Giants
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (9 targets, 4 receptions, 34 yards)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 78 yards
So begins the stretch of games in which Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, and Mack Hollins all were not available in Philadelphia: Ward’s Watch, if you will. The Eagles will win each of the next four games — a large reason why the fanbase is still accepting the idea of Greg Ward as an NFL caliber receiver — but will have only modest WR production in each.
Just thing about what Metcalf could have done with all that volume.
Philadelphia Eagles: 37-27 @ Washington Football Team
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (9 targets, 7 receptions, 61 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 36 yards, 1 touchdown
Philadelphia Eagles: 17-9 v. Dallas Cowboys
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (5 targets, 4 receptions, 71 yards)
DK Metcalf: 1 target, 0 receptions
Could having Metcalf have...actually cost the Eagles a game?
No. He would never get blanked in Philadelphia. In fact, he’d average 110 yards and 1.5 touchdowns against Dallas. LET ME DREAM.
Philadelphia Eagles: 34-17 @ New York Giants
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (7 targets, 6 receptions, 43 yards)
DK Metcalf: 12 targets, 6 receptions, 81 yards, 1 touchdown
Win win win!
Wild Card Round
Philadelphia Eagles: 9-17 v. Seattle Seahawks
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (4 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards)
DK Metcalf: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 160 yards, 1 touchdown
It’s easy to forget that the Eagles — led by Josh McCown! — played in the playoffs last year. It’s even easier to forget that their entire WR output belonged to Greg Ward and Deontay Burnett, totaled 4 catches and 29 yards on 5 targets, and accordingly was about...35% of the work DK Metcalf did? This isn’t an exact science.
Even with McCown in for the Eagles, yes, unquestionably yes: if they could Time Heist the Seahawks and take Metcalf for this game, in which he was probably the best player on the field, then they would have won a playoff game.
With Josh McCown.
Philadelphia Eagles: ? - ? v. Green Bay Packers
Eagles’ leading receiver: ?
DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 4 receptions, 49 yards
The Eagles, of course, did not actually play in the divisional round. If they did, it would have been with Josh McCown against a red-hot Packers offense, and they would have lost.
Metcalf would have caught 12 of 12 targets for 150 and 2 scores. And you can’t prove me wrong.
Actual Record: 9-7, exit in wild card round
Metcalf Record: 11-5, exit in divisional round
Wins Above J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WAJJAW): 3.0
Philadelphia Eagles: 17-27 @ Washington Football team
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (7 targets, 5 receptions, 31 yards)
DK Metcalf: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 95 yards, 1 touchdown
If you’re willing to recall any facts from this forsaken season, you’ll remember that in Week 1, the Eagles were like “We’re a downfield passing offense! We have vertical threats now!” and it was absolutely terrible. So even though it was a two-score deficit, I’m giving the Eagles the win with Metcalf here. He would have had a game reminiscent of Jackson’s 2019 season opener against Washington, kick off his season much the same way he actually did for Seattle this year.
Philadelphia Eagles: 19-37 v. Los Angeles Rams
Eagles’ leading receiver: DeSean Jackson (9 targets, 6 receptions, 64 yards)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 92 yards, 1 touchdown
Unfortunately, I don’t think Metcalf is worth 18 points, especially against a Rams team that was able to lock him dow—wait...do we have that information? Like, that game technically doesn’t exist.
Either way, still a loss. Just because Metcalf is good doesn’t mean the Eagles are.
Philadelphia Eagles: 23-23 v. Cincinnati Bengals
Eagles’ leading receiver: Greg Ward (11 targets, 8 receptions, 72 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 110 yards, 1 touchdown
Perfect example of a Metcalf WAJJAW here. Metcalf had better output on less volume than Ward, and accordingly with Metcalf in Philadelphia, this is an easy win.
Or a loss. I don’t care. Just not a tie.
Philadelphia Eagles: 25-20 @ San Francisco 49ers
Eagles’ leading receiver: Travis Fulgham (3 targets, 2 receptions, 57 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 106 yards
This is the first of the Travis Fulgham explosion games, which raises an interesting question: would there have been any room for Fulgham’s emergence if Metcalf were rostered in Philadelphia?
And the answer is sure. Yes. Probably? IDK, maybe not, but whatever. Eagles still win. And they should throw it to Fulgham more.
Philadelphia Eagles: 29-38 @ Pittsburgh Steelers
Eagles’ leading receiver: Travis Fulgham (13 targets, 10 receptions, 152 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 11 targets, 6 receptions, 93 yards, 2 touchdowns
In one of the few games in which an Eagles receiver arguably outperformed Metcalf, the Eagles unfortunately still take the loss. Unless they switched Metcalf’s position to middle linebacker after the Fulgham explosion, they still don’t have an answer for Chase Claypool in the slot.
Philadelphia Eagles: 28-30 v. Baltimore Ravens
Eagles’ leading receiver: Travis Fulgham (10 targets, 6 receptions, 75 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 23 yards
Tricky one here. Metcalf on the field for the 2 point conversion attempt after the Eagles heroically tie things up in the fourth quarter is an intriguing proposition — though he’s no Hakeem Butler. And perhaps with Metcalf available, the Eagles don’t need to cover a 18 point fourth-quarter deficit in the first place.
On the basis that Metcalf catches this ball and houses it, I’m giving the Eagles the win. I don’t care. This is my article.
WR HIGHTOWER FRUSTRANTE— Mundo Eagles (@MundoEagles) October 18, 2020
Tiene una gran velocidad y ha demostrado correr buenos routes y desmarcarse.
Pero este es el 2do Touchdown drop en 2 semanas.
Lo positivo por 3ra semana Wentz con excelentes pases largos.#Eagles pic.twitter.com/VL3ywMlKFb
Philadelphia Eagles: 22-21 v. New York Giants
Eagles’ leading receiver: Travis Fulgham (11 targets, 5 receptions, 73 yards)
DK Metcalf: 15 targets, 12 receptions, 161 yards, 2 touchdowns
The Eagles begged the Giants to beat them and New York wouldn’t acquiesce. Maybe Metcalf would have intimidates them into listening and actually finishing the job. At the very least this game wouldn’t have been as painful to watch with DeKaylin in midnight green.
Philadelphia Eagles: 23-9 v. Dallas Cowboys
Eagles’ leading receiver: Travis Fulgham (7 targets, 6 receptions, 78 yards, 1 touchdown)
DK Metcalf: 9 targets, 7 receptions, 108 yards, 1 touchdown
Wentz still throws three...two?...no, three picks in this one, Eagles still win, Metcalf wonders what life would be like with a quarterback like Russell Wilson throwing him the football.
Better, DK. Better.
Philadelphia Eagles: 17-27 @ New York Giants
Eagles’ leading receiver: Jalen Reagor (7 targets, 4 reception, 47 yards)
DK Metcalf: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 28 yards
In that this was the first game in which the Eagles were like “Fulgham who? What? How?” I refuse to give them the win with Metcalf. He could have been doing something crazy, like leading the league in yards/route run over the last five weeks, and the Eagles still would have neglected him to ensure they finally lost to the Giants.
Philadelphia Eagles: 17-22 @ Cleveland Browns
Eagles’ leading receiver: Jalen Reagor (5 targets, 4 receptions, 52 yards)
DK Metcalf: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 46 yards, 1 touchdown
I’m waffling on this one. The weather was bad, they ran the ball a lot, and dug themselves into their usual hole with turnovers and bad situational football. With that said, Wentz also was desperate for a decent receiver, as everyone played pretty poorly, including Fulgham.
But they still had no idea where Fulgham was, couldn’t pass protect at all, and didn’t look like a team interested in winning. So, a loss. At least Metcalf might have something spicy to say to the media afterward.
Actual Record: 3-6-1, embarrassment that the owner does not deign to view
Metcalf Record: 6-4, real football team with actual football skill and the like
Wins Above J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WAJJAW): 2.5
Actual Record: 12-13-1, head coach literally wants to be fired
Metcalf Record: 17-9, head coach wants to remain head coach
Wins Above J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (WAJJAW): 5.5
I am 5.5 losses worth of sad that the Eagles didn’t draft DK Metcalf.
Thanks for playing!