Eagles Wake-Up Call: Outside Help Wanted


Photo by Jeff Fusco

Photo by Jeff Fusco

Questioned about the lack of production from his outside receivers, Chip Kelly pointed away from his group of wideouts and towards the game plan.

“I don’t believe it’s an obstacle,” he said of their low output, “because I think there’s a lot of things that we’re doing in targeting our inside receivers and our tight ends just because of matchups. We knew going into this game that our tight ends and our inside receivers were going to be huge components in terms of what we’re trying to do. So we’re trying to get the ball to those guys.

“We don’t really care who we get the production from as long as we’re getting production from the entire offense.”

That explanation might hold up if this was a one-week deal. The Eagles did go directly after the middle of Miami’s defense (despite the Dolphins being depleted at cornerback) and it paid dividends, with Brent Celek and Zach Ertz combining for 11 grabs for 202 yards. Given that chosen route of attack, you can rationalize the zero-catch nights out of Riley Cooper and Miles Austin as more or less a product of circumstance if you are so inclined.

Only Sunday was not an isolated event. Cooper has been held without a catch in five of the nine games and  has not posted a reception since October 19 against the Giants.  Austin has been blanked in four games so far and has hauled in just 12 of his 28 targets for a 43 percent catch rate. Considering Cooper is making $4 million this season and Austin $2.3 million, it’s fair to expect far more than what they’ve provided.

And they are not alone in their struggles. Josh Huff and Nelson Agholor (injured for a good portion of the year) have been even less productive.

Here’s where they rank in receiving yards relative to the rest of the league:

Austin — 124th  (212 yards)
Cooper — 131st (205 yards)
Huff — 154th (174 yards)
Agholor — 182nd (137 yards)

While Cooper did not get any balls thrown his way, Austin was targeted four times against the Dolphins. He had a drop down the sideline, gave questionable effort in the end zone on the Mark Sanchez pick and was unable to get both feet in bounds on a near touchdown in the fourth.

Austin near TD

Not the easiest play in the world. Same could be said for the drop. But high degree of difficulty is kind of the name of the game in pro sports. Sometimes you just have to make a play for your quarterback.

The receivers have failed in a big way in that regard overall. Jordan Matthews (51 catches, 552 yards, 2 TDs), despite some early stumbles, has one less catch than the other four wideouts combined. He’s drawn 80 targets compared to 98 total for the rest of the group. That might be because of game plan, as Kelly suggested, but more a game plan based on the strengths and limitations of the Eagles’ personnel, not the opponents’.

On Monday, Kelly once again referenced the fine line between winning and losing at this level; how one play in a team’s favor can help determine the outcome. Stands to reason that playmakers will help tip those scales in your favor, and to this point, the Eagles have been critically lacking in that department on the outside.

WHAT YOU MISSED

According to reports, Sam Bradford could miss two games with a left shoulder injury and a concussion.

Comprehensive day-after notes, including a rumination on the breaking of trust in Kelly’s third year.

“It was right there at our fingertips.” Numerous Eagles acknowledge they let one get away against Miami.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Jeff McLane of the Philadelphia Inquirer breaks down what he learned from the Eagles’ loss to Miami, including a growing bad feeling about this team.

The Sixers could never lose this badly. It takes a team with a lot of talent – and the Eagles certainly have it – to lose in such utterly pathetic fashion. There was a botched field goal, a blocked punt, a bad snap, three fumbles the Eagles luckily recovered, seven ill-timed penalties (one of which negated a touchdown), at least four dropped passes, and an ill-fated interception.

More than any of the Eagles’ losses this season, this one felt most like some of the sloppy defeats that occurred late in Andy Reid’s tenure. Reid and his players kept insisting they had a good team and enough talent to win in the NFL. But a steady stream of mistakes and boneheaded moments suggested otherwise. And in the end, all that was left were the bones of a good team, or perhaps a poorly constructed team.

Chip Kelly has said intelligence is paramount in his evaluation of players. He has acquired a bunch of players who fit the mold. And yet, a smart coach and smart players continue to do dumb things to lose games.

Tommy Lawlor offers his take on the state of the team.

I understand the complaints about talent and coaching extend to the whole team. My point is just to show that playing the blame game doesn’t always solve anything. There are times when it is completely clear that change is needed. Rob Ryan did an awful job with the Saints defense last year. They are on pace  to be one of the worst defenses in NFL history this season. That is an extreme and obvious example where the coaching wasn’t anywhere close to being good enough. And that has cost Rob Ryan his job.

There are plenty of people who don’t like Chip Kelly as coach. Some hate him as the GM. Some dislike him in both roles. That’s fine. I’m still a believer in Chip and his ideas. Does that mean I agree with everything he does? Heck no. Does that mean he can’t have bad days? Of course not.

COMING UP

Bill Davis and Pat Shurmur will address the media at 11:45 prior to practice.