‘It’s Where We Are:’ The Eagles’ Offensive Philosophy Shift
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - You're likely going to see a name added to the depth chart at wide receiver before the Eagles next hit the field against the New England Patriots a week from Sunday.
It might be a familiar one like Jordan Matthews or a brand new Band-Aid but one thing is certain, it will not be is a savior.
There are reasons players are on the street in the NFL during November. For the Eagles to really improve down the stretch at what's been an incredibly disappointing position in 2019 the help has to come from within, particularly from underachieving veterans Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor, and missing in action rookie J.J. Arcega-Whiteside.
"We've got to take a look at it, obviously. It's real," coach Doug Pederson said about the position Monday, hours before news broke of DeSean Jackson's core-muscle surgery. "We're around the halfway point of our season, and we've got time this week to make these decisions."
A Matthews-type could serve as an upgrade over Mack Hollins, a special-teams player currently miscast as a starting NFL WR due to the abdomen injury of Jackson, who underwent surgery under the auspices of Dr. Williams Meyers Tuesday morning, and the inability [or unwillingless] of the coaching staff to ramp up Arcega-Whiteside's cross-training to the Z position.
"I think I mentioned last week that, even in Mack's case, when you're the sixth, possibly seventh guy in the progression or in the scheme of things, sometimes it's hard to get the ball going in that direction," Pederson explained. "We go in thinking the Alshon’s and DeSean’s and Nelly’s and the tight ends, backs and stuff like that, and we ask a lot of those other guys, too, in the run game and they do some great things there.
"The ball is going to find, usually, the open guy, and find the completion that way, and we just have to continue to work.
The guess here is the training wheels come off during the self-scout of the bye week and Philadelphia starts to get Arcega-Whiteside more involved. Jeffery, however, also needs to bounce back from a difficult start which partially stems from calf and ankle injuries, and turn around what is shaping up as his worst professional season while Agholor needs to fight through his latest crisis of confidence to at least became more of a contributor.
"I think number one is the mental side of the offense," Pederson said when asked about Arcega-Whiteside's limited role. "How much do they know? How much can they take from the classroom to the practice field and then does it translate to the game? Then what they do in practice. In young players cases, like J.J. being behind Alshon for instance, he's kind of learning from Alshon. He's doing everything right. He's practicing hard.
"And sometimes it's just hard to get on the field because of that and one of the things that we like about J.J. is his versatility, the fact that he can play really all three spots and move him around. So being able to do that, obviously allows us to find a position or at least find some snaps for guys like that, and I think moving forward, that's something -- that's kind of what this week is for, for us, as a staff on offense, is to see how we can maximize our potential that way."
The ship has already sailed on the WR corps being great as some speculated it could be before the season and now the goal is simply competency as the Eagles shift their identity toward 12 personnel where both Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert are on the field together.
"I still think you run your offense, and we still have to put our best players on the field at the time," Pederson said. "It's where we are."
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen