Josh Huff Steps up at Position of Need
To the uninitiated that means Philadelphia was using three wide receivers on 87.5 percent of their offensive snaps and other than slot receiver Jordan Matthews, the production coming from Riley Cooper, rookie Nelson Agholor, and second-year man Josh Huff was spotty at best.
And that had many wondering why Chip didn't try getting two backs or two tight ends on the field more often.
Despite the struggles of DeMarco Murray before his 83-yard, one-touchdown performance against the Saints, the running back position remains one of the deepest on the team and it wouldn't be all that difficult to play scat-back Darren Sproles with either Murray or Ryan Mathews. At tight end, Zach Ertz is more than capable of handling the slot duty while Brent Celek does the heavy lifting in-line as a traditional y-back.
So what gives? Why keep players like Cooper and Agholor on the field so consistently?
The answer lies in the defense. By putting three receivers on the field, most defenses are going to respond by playing a nickel defense and, in theory at least, that should make running the football far easier, something that hasn't come to fruition at least until the 186-yard performance against New Orleans.
To be more consistent in 11 personnel moving forward, though, someone was going to have to step up outside the numbers, whether it was Cooper, Agholor, Huff or even veteran Miles Austin.
The hope was that the learning curve wouldn't be so steep for Agholor, who has the highest ceiling among all the contenders mentioned and the speed to keep defenses honest.
The moribund Saints were a relief for most of the Eagles' struggling offensive players but not Agholor. For the second straight week the former Southern California star, who caught just one pass for five yards before leaving with an ankle injury, caused a TD to be called back, this time due to an offensive pass interference call.
Until those mental mistakes stop, it's probably a prudent idea to ride the hot hand, which was Huff this week.
Huff spent most of training camp and the preseason running with the No. 1s but was taking a back seat by Week 1. A death to someone very close to the speedy receiver, although with a tweaked hamstring the day before the Jets game set Huff back even further.
Sunday was a different story and it started from play one as Huff took the opening kickoff back 40 yards. He finished the contest with four catches for 78 yards with a 41-yard TD catch when two of the Saints' defensive backs decided to play Keystone Cops and run into each other.
"My confidence was already high," Huff claimed. "That's been my goal ever since the season started. I've prepared every week like I was going to have my number called ... I just need to keep preparing until my number is called again and try to help us win games."
Huff isn't Jeremy Maclin, never mind an All-Pro like Julio Jones, but he sure looked like a contributor against New Orleans and that's a step in the right direction.
“This is something that we've been working hard for all offseason," Huff said. "You're going to have your ups and downs in this league but you have to learn to bounce back from both losses and wins. We have a goal set and we're ready to continue working toward that."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen