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A positive spin on the Eagles’ wide receivers

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On the bright side ...

NFL: Dallas Cowboys at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

“Philadelphia has the NFL’s best group of wide receivers.”

Remember when PFF touted this not too long ago? It was just a short seven months and one March ago. Well, what the hell happened? Let’s take a stroll through memory lane, shall we?

We’re in the middle of hot girl summer, the stocks look “tremendous,” and Julie Ertz is kicking ass and taking names in the World Cup. Howie Roseman and company just drafted a receiver in the mold of Alshon Jeffery. Just a few months ago, the Birds brought back the fan-favorite DeSean Jackson. The team was only a year or so removed from Nelson Agholor’s terrific decent 2017 season, and the young wideout is now working with a HOF receiver. Mack Hollins is still a mystery, but a mystery with upside [Author’s note: LOL] The team has the best group of wide receivers, and fans are stoked. Here’s the lineup right now:

  • Alshon Jeffery
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Nelson Agholor
  • Mack Hollins
  • JJ Arcega-Whiteside

Fast forward to today. The world is crumbling. The draft is going to take place without Roger Goodell getting booed, and all of a sudden, the Eagles are seemingly hanging Carson Wentz out to dry by not addressing the league’s worst wide receiving corps. We’re all having flashbacks of the days when we cheered for the likes of Riley Cooper. Currently, the WRs are as follows:

  • Alshon Jeffery
  • DeSean Jackson
  • Nelson Agholor
  • Mack Hollins
  • JJ Arcega-Whiteside

So doing basic math here, we can all agree that Nelson Agholor and Mack Hollins are the difference between the best and the worst units in the league, right? Obviously not. The real answer probably lies somewhere in the middle. Although it seemed that everything possible that could go wrong with the WRs last year did go wrong, it’s also reasonably safe to assume the group would not have lived up to the expectations they set after week 1, regardless of the outcome. Similarly, the current group isn’t completely devoid of talent.

Alshon Jeffery

Although Alshon Jeffery may be stirring up some drama in the locker room, there is absolutely no reason to believe his talent level is drastically different than this time last year. Alshon only played in 10 games but still managed to accrue 490 yds and 4 TDs with a team-high (among qualified WRs) 1.71 yards per route ran. While Jeffery definitely needs to shut up about his teammates, if he could get somewhere in the 800 yds, 6 TD range, his contribution would undoubtedly be noticed.

DeSean Jackson

Which one of the following numbers stands out most?

16 15 14 15 11 16 13 9 15 13 10 3

Probably the 3, right? It’s because the other numbers are all significantly larger. Jackson got hurt last year, and while he is definitely not getting any younger, he should be able to contribute a few dramatic moments to the season. His speed on crossing routes could also really open up space for Jeffery, Ertz, Goedert, and JJAW. While we won’t ever see a 1000+ yd receiver again, if Jackson puts up 500 yds, 5 TDs, I’ll be happy.

JJ Arcega-Whiteside

In total last year, JJAW got real snaps (40+) in six games and got significant playing time in another six or games. Somehow on 331 snaps as a receiver, JJAW was targeted just 19 times. Of those 19 times, only 10 were caught. On those 10 passes, Arcega-Whiteside was able to gain 169 yards and even found the endzone once. Now, I certainly think it is fair to say that his rookie year was underwhelming, at best. I am not going to argue with you if you tell me that there were better options for the team to draft. However, I will draw the line with people acting like JJAW is entirely useless and Nelson Agholor 2.0. He was thrown into an offense where even if he shined, he was, at best, the 15th best-known player on the field. There are a lot of personalities in Philly, and I tend to think it could be overwhelming for new players to find their own groove with too many superstars around. [Note, this is why I think the team did not choose to resign Jenkins on defense. New voices, new faces, new leadership]. Arcega-Whiteside may not be a superstar, but he really doesn’t have to be. If he can be a capable 5th or 6th option for Wentz, he will be just fine.

The best of the rest

Whether it be Greg Ward Jr., Robert Davis, Deontay Burnett, a wide receiver drafted a few weeks from now, or someone else entirely, the Eagles do have some other names who have shown promise in small sample sizes. It’s definitely hard to put all of our faith in any of these guys accurately, but between Carson, the Defense, and the Tight-Ends, what we have should be good enough to win. One more solid addition could really bring everything together.

Overall, I think it was ludicrous to call the 2019 group the best, and I believe it is equally such to call the current group the worst.