If there is one unit on the Philadelphia Eagles that epitomizes their disappointing season it was the wide receivers. There were many factors heading into the season, but the bottom line is they just have an underperforming season.
Whether it was a dropped pass, lost fumbles after the catch or passes that bounced off a receiver’s hands and turned into interceptions, this unit gave almost every example possible the results of lack of focus.
For a team that relies heavily on the passing game, there is much room for improvement. Whether it is each receiver looking in the mirror or addressing the position in the offseason remains to be seen.
This is the current Eagles receiving unit.
When the 2011 Eagles training camp began, Maclin was excused to handle what we now know was a medical scare. Fortunately, the ex-Missouri Tiger was deemed healthy by his doctors. The downside is he never got into a rhythm.
Many fans will remember Maclin dropping a 4th down pass inAtlanta or the fumble in field goal range againstSan Francisco. He was also bother by a hamstring and his shoulder, leading to a disappoint year overall. His primary focus for 2012 is to start off healthy.
Jackson’s 2011 season was a situation where everyone was wrong. TheCalifornianative knows he could’ve handled the final year of his rookie deal in a more professional manner. At the same time, the Eagles front office isn’t completely innocent.
The end result was a two time Pro Bowler allowing his financial situation be a distraction. There were plays where his route running was obviously being executed without full effort. He was also a non-factor in punt returns.
Avant is considered one of the most professional guys on the Eagles. Therefore, I was disappointed when he made comments about bandwagon fans. When one of the team’s leaders makes comments like that, it lets you know how frustrating the environment is inside the locker room.
Having the most productive season of his six year career wasn’t necessarily a good thing. Avant’s most productive games were either in losses or blowout wins. This leads to the primary receivers being non-factors and/or having a down year.
The fact that one of the team’s role players has to be looked upon for leadership is a problem as well. It’s like Avant is the Aaron McKie to DeSean’s Allen Iverson. On championship teams, leadership usually begins with the top players.
In 2012, there will be no more excuses for Cooper. The Eagles have their big receiver. Now they just need Cooper to be a big receiver who can be relied upon to fight for the ball.
Hall must be an excellent teammate in the locker room. A consummate professional who does whatever is asked of him. He is similar toNew England’s Julian Edelman without the need to play defense.
Like Edelman, Hall’s presence means there is a void on the team. This is especially true in terms of needing a full time punt returner.
Part of me still believes Smith came to the Eagles to help lose to the Giants. Acquiring him via free agency may have been one of the worst moves in the Andy Reid era. Fortunately, the contract was only for one year.
Jamel Hamler, Ronald Johnson and Mardy Gilyard
None of these three guys were a factor in the 2011 season. Johnson spend most of the year on the Eagles practice squad, being promoted to the active roster for the final two games.
Hamler was a rookie free agent originally signed by the Denver Broncos. He was placed on injured reserved before being released via settlement.
Gilyard was a 2010 4th round pick by the St. Louis Rams who didn’t make the final cuts for 2011. The Eagles signed him to a futures contract after the season ended. Considering the Eagles’ recent history with Cincinnati Bearcats, he may be a steal.
None of these three guys are proven, but neither was Victor Cruz.
The status of DeSean Jackson is obviously going to be the biggest story heading into the offseason. I’m one of the minority who believes there is no such thing as an irreplaceable player.
IsJacksona factor? Yes. Does he command attention on the field? Absolutely. Will the Eagles go 0-16 if he departs? Very unlikely.
Timing is everything. Just like with the Indianapolis Colts and Peyton Manning. The ability to draft Andrew Luck with the No. 1 pick could not have come at a better time.
For the Eagles, the WR options in free agency and the NFL draft are currently very good. While I don’t see Vincent Jackson (San Diego), Dwayne Bowe (Kansas City) or Marcus Colston (New Orleans) even making it to free agency, the Saints Robert Meecham is very likely to be available at a reasonable price.
In the draft, the Eagles can target eitherArkansasreceiver (Joe Adams or Jarius Wright) or Baylor’s Kendall Wright for a speedster. If they want a larger receiver, Rutger’sMohamed Sanu,
South Carolina’s Alshon Jeffrey, UNC’s Dwight Jones among others should be available on Day 2.
Having said that, I don’t see the Eagles just letting DeSean leave for another team. A franchise tag is very likely. A trade could be pursued (San Franciscocould surely use him) or he’ll play one more year in Philly.
Next: Tight Ends