Receivers not strong for Eagles despite high draft picks
Nov. 18, 2015
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Three high draft picks in the past two years haven't boosted the Eagles wide receivers the way they'd hoped.
The Eagles spent three high draft picks on wide receivers the past two years, using a second-round pick on Jordan Matthews and a third-round pick on Josh Huff in 2014 and a first-round pick, the 20th overall, on Nelson Agholor in the 2015 draft.
Throw in veterans Riley Cooper and Miles Austin and the wide receivers were supposed to be strong for the Eagles offense this season. Things haven't gone that way.
Matthews has 51 receptions and 552 yards in nine games, but nine drops. Huff, who was expected to have a breakout season in his second year, has 18 catches for 174 yards. And Agholor, who missed three games with a sprained ankle, has 11 catches for 137 yards.
Cooper hasn't even been targeted in three games and Austin has dropped passes and had a part in Mark Sanchez's end-zone interception on Sunday.
"I think what's important is we all get better," Eagles offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "have different combinations of guys, right, and so the challenge is, the challenge is to score points. It doesn't matter how we score them."
The Eagles have gotten production from tight ends Zach Ertz (36 for 382) and Brent Celek (four for 134 on Sunday). The running backs have combined to catch 78 passes.
It's the lack of production from the wide receivers, especially the outside receivers, that has been puzzling.
The Eagles face a Tampa Bay defense on Sunday that has allowed five different wide receivers to go over 100 yards this season.
"I don't believe it's an obstacle because I think there are a lot of things we're doing in targeting our inside receivers and our tight ends just because a matchup is a part of our game plan," coach Chip Kelly said.
"We know in play-action pass, some of the deep over routes and things like that are going to be difficult for them to catch," he said. "So we don't really care who we get the production from, as long as we're getting production from the entire offense."
Eagles quarterback Sam Bradford sat out of practice again as he recovers from a concussion and a shoulder injury suffered in the team's 20-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins last Sunday. Bradford was one of three players who have not passed the concussion protocol as of Wednesday. Running back Ryan Mathews and offensive lineman Josh Andrews were the other two. Left tackle Jason Peters, who has missed the past two games with a back injury, was also out of practice Wednesday.