McMullen on the Eagles: ‘Receiving’ the Message
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - The Eagles' offense still hasn't hit its stride in 2015 but just about every position has improved since the dark days of early September.
The much-maligned offensive line has settled down and performed very well in recent weeks while DeMarco Murray has become more and more productive. Even embattled quarterback Sam Bradford, although clearly not a fit for what Chip Kelly wants to do on offense, has picked up his game and been an asset in both Carolina and Dallas.
The one group that hasn't been able to carry its water, however, is the receivers and for a look at just how bad Bob Bicknell's students have been so far in 2015 we turn to the highly-regarded, player-grading website Pro Football Focus.
To date there are 118 NFL receivers who have played enough snaps to be graded by PFF and in between No. 1, Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown, and the Mr. Irrelevant of the wide-receiving world, the Raiders' Seth Roberts, there are five Eagles, perceived starters Jordan Matthews, Riley Cooper and Josh Huff, along with rookie Nelson Agholor and veteran Bradford favorite Miles Austin.
The top-rated Philadelphia wideout, according to PFF, is Cooper, who lands at No. 87 on the list and his positive grade, if you want to call it that, is almost entirely based on his run-blocking prowess.
Matthews is the high-volume guy of the corps and hopefully turned a corner in North Texas with by far his best game of the year, a nine-catch, 133-yard performance, including the 41-yard, game-winning touchdown in overtime, against the Cowboys. Egregious drops, though, have plagued the slot receiver throughout the campaign and despite 48 receptions for 531 yards he has been rated as No. 95 of those 118 receivers.
A tick behind Matthews at No. 97 is Austin, who has become a Bradford comfort zone in recent games, largely because he has been the Eagles' most consistent route runner and ball catcher.
The runts of this puny litter are the young guys, Huff at No. 108 and Agholor three spots behind that. Each has been incredibly disappointing considering the expectations placed upon them and neither has shown any consistency when on the field.
Overall Bradford has had to endure the most dropped passes as any QB in the NFL with 27 through eight games and right now his apologists who claimed Bradford ultimately failed in St. Louis because of the lack of weapons surrounding him can certainly carry that argument over to Philadelphia.
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973ESPN.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen