One thing we all thought heading into this Eagles season was that the wide receiver position was weak, very weak. This past game against the Detroit Lions helped to solidify this thought into a deep, deep reality. With four games now in the books for head coach Doug Pederson (3-1), it’s incredibly apparent and clear that the Philadelphia Eagles need to target and acquire a true No. 1 wide receiver in the future. Whether it’s via trade in the offseason, free agency or the draft (the likely choice), it needs to happen for this team to propel and strengthen their offense in the years to come.
Don’t get me wrong, I truly like their current designated No. 1 receiver, Jordan Matthews. I even bought his jersey shortly after he was drafted over two years ago. However, whether it’s coaching, ability or talent, he hasn’t bestowed confidence on us fans, and statistically, that he’s up to the No. 1 receiver task. Seemingly, plays are not drawn up for him as the undeniable “go-to” receiver in critical moments (see the end of the Detroit game).
We talk about what kind of role Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham might play in the future, but that very notion and discussion is indicative of No. 2 and 3 receiver status. Let’s not forget about running back Darren Sproles. Oh, that’s right. He’s a running back. But hey, at least he’s one of the top receivers on the team.
Let’s for a moment take a look at how the Eagles receivers (and a running back) have fared this year statistically with rookie quarterback Carson Wentz at the helm.
#1 – Jordan Matthews: 19 catches (30 targets), 269 yards, 2 TDs, 6 catches for over 20+ yards
#2 – Darren Sproles: 14 catches (17 targets), 183 yards, 1 TD, 2 catches for over 20+ yards
#3 – Nelson Agholor: 13 catches (22 targets), 147 yards, 1 TD, 1 catch for over 20+ yards
#4 – Dorial Green-Beckham: 10 catches (14 targets), 108 yards, 0 TDs, 1 catch for over 20+ yards
#5 – Josh Huff: 8 catches (12 targets), 24 yards, 1 TD, 0 catches for over 20+ yards.
With the Eagles four true wide receivers, running backs who have contributed as well as tight ends, they’re ranked 22nd in receiving yards according to NFL.com. Expected? Yes. But it’s difficult to comprehend and even accept this when a first-round draft pick (No. 20 overall) from a year ago only has 13 catches through four games. I know, that was an old regime, but Agholor was still a late first-round to early second-round graded wide out. He was the fourth wide receiver taken in the 2015 draft. He’s been anything but dominant – even in a No. 2 role.
Here’s a look at other teams who have that dominant, true No. 1 receiver and where they rank league-wide in receiving: Atlanta Falcons (Julio Jones) ranked 1st, Cincinnati Bengals (A.J. Green) ranked 3rd, Pittsburgh Steelers (Antonio Brown) ranked 4th.
As Wentz continues to develop his craft as the future franchise quarterback for the Eagles, he needs and deserves that genuine No. 1 wide receiver. It will put him and the offense atop of the NFL and in a position where winning playoff games are possible. I’m astonished at what he’s done with the lack of talent he currently works with week to week. Imagine Wentz with a dangerous receiver such as Julio Jones or A.J. Green.
After the loss to the Lions, it was 100-percent and clearly evident that the offense desperately needs to address acquiring better talent at the receiver position next year. It should be a top priority. The two players who are likely out the door next season are Huff (undeniably) and Agholor (understandably). The front office, in my opinion, cannot fill these holes fast enough. We saw how the Eagles front office took weaknesses in the offseason and transformed them into strengths (QB, LB, OL). This should, can and must be done next season with the wide receiver position.