Pederson Denies WR Rumors
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) - With rumors swirling that Howie Roseman is looking to upgrade at the wide receiver position and targeting either Torrey Smith or Alshon Jeffery in advance of the Nov.1 trade deadline, Eagles coach Doug Pederson poured cold water on to that narrative Wednesday.
“There's no legitimacy to that, and I'm thrilled with the guys we have and going to work with them every day,” the coach said at his morning press conference in advance of the day's practice.
Through six games, the Eagles wideouts have struggled with their production and ability to generate consistent separation, especially when lined up against some of the league’s better cornerbacks.
Jordan Matthews has been Carson Wentz’s top target throughout the campaign with 25 receptions for 354 and two touchdowns, while WR2 Nelson Agholor continues to struggle in his second NFL season, amassing 18 catches for 191 yards and a score.
Dorial Green-Beckham, meanwhile, has 13 catches for 139 yards and caught his first TD in the win against Minnesota last week, while Josh Huff has generated 12 receptions and just 63 yards in what are mainly manufactured touches.
To be kind, it’s not an imposing group that is going to scare opposing defensive coordinators and of the 108 NFL wideouts who have played enough to be graded by ProFootballFocus.com this season, Matthews comes in at No. 41 while DGB is 51st and Agholor is right behind him at 52. Huff, meanwhile, has not played enough to be in the rankings but would be behind all three in the snaps he’s gotten.
The biggest problem remains a legitimate deep threat.
“Nelson can stretch itl Josh can stretch it,” Pederson claimed. “But I think it's protection and design of the play. When I think of stretching the field, I mean, a guy can run fast and that can be stretching the field, but who can really take the top off? Those two guys are two that can do that -- and Bryce Treggs.”
Huff obviously has the speed to stretch the field but is a weak route runner while Agholor is not really a burner and still has trouble tracking the football while in the air as evidenced by the Wentz deep shot in Detroit which sealed the game for the Lions.
Another issue has been consistency from week-to-week with the four main guys.
“I thought Josh was pretty efficient last week (against the Vikings),” Pederson said. “He caught some nice balls: a couple in the red zone, and a couple of bubble-slant combinations that we do with him. And that's kind of who Josh is. He's another one, much like DGB that you try to find every week.
“You know, when you have 22 or 23 pass attempts and another 26 or so running attempts, there's just not that many plays. And so, we have them in every week, it's my job, I guess, to call them in situations where we can utilize them. Sometimes it's just the circumstance of the game.”
From Pederson’s perspective, downplaying any possible trade scenarios is the way he has to play it because if nothing does happen, he’s got to move forward with what’s on hand and improving the performance of the options he does have is paramount as the season progressed.
That said, the coach did at least admit there is some wiggle room to his position.
“Well, look, you say ‘upgrade.’ I think every team is trying to upgrade every position if you could,” Pederson admitted.
The only two players absent from practice Wednesday were nose tackle Bennie Logan (groin) and special teams stalwart Kamu Grugier-Hill (hamstring).
Although it’s still early, it’s looking more and more likely that Logan will miss his second straight game when the Eagles visit the Dallas Cowboys on Sunday night and his current status is the major reason the Eagles brought Taylor Hart back instead of filling Ron Brooks’ roster spot with another cornerback.
“Right now with the injury to Bennie, you're down to three (defensive tackles),” Pederson explained. “(With) as much rotating as we do with that group, we felt the need to bring a fourth in.”
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at email@example.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen