Eagles have a wide receiver problem that goes beyond Jalen Reagor's 4th-down drop vs. Giants

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
·6 min read
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. – The Eagles have a wide receiver problem.

That's not exactly breaking news.

It was evident before the season when the Eagles missed early in two straight drafts with J.J. Arcega-Whiteside in 2019 (second round) and Jalen Reagor in 2020 (first round) before finally getting it right with DeVonta Smith in the first round last spring.

Eagles general manager Howie Roseman has compounded those mistakes by not adding a veteran receiver in free agency before the season.

MISTAKES GALORE: Jalen Hurts throws killer INT(s) as Eagles lose mistake-filled game to Giants

BIGGER PROBLEMS: Why Joe Judge is no longer angry at the Eagles for costing Giants a playoff berth in 2020

That's not a news flash, either.

But we got a clear understanding of how much those mistakes hurt the Eagles in their 13-7 loss to the Giants on Sunday.

Arcega-Whiteside is only in the game as a blocking wide receiver and as a special teams player. He has two catches for 36 yards this season.

Reagor is in the game because he has to be in the game. It's the same with Quez Watkins. There is no one else.

Eagles coach Nick Sirianni pretty much admitted that, then added Monday that he has no plans to bench Reagor.

Reagor played 67% of the snaps on Sunday. He came into the game playing 68% of the snaps.

In fact, you can argue that Sirianni changed to a run-based offense because he can't rely on Reagor or Arcega-Whiteside or any other receiver other than Smith or tight end Dallas Goedert.

Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (18) reacts after dropping a pass in the endzone late in the fourth quarter. The Giants defeat the Eagles, 13-7, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in East Rutherford.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor (18) reacts after dropping a pass in the endzone late in the fourth quarter. The Giants defeat the Eagles, 13-7, at MetLife Stadium on Sunday, Nov. 28, 2021, in East Rutherford.

"Right now, he’s not having a ton of production," Sirianni said about Reagor. "That’s a little bit based on how we’re playing on offense."

That's an understatement.

Reagor was targeted seven times Sunday, catching only two passes for 31 yards. That was as many targets as Smith and Goedert had combined.

For the season, Reagor has 25 catches for 201 yards. And no, that doesn't come close to Justin Jefferson's production with the Vikings – the player Minnesota took the pick after Reagor.

Still, Reagor plays because he can make highlight-reel catches, as he did late in the first half on the sideline at the Giants' 2-yard line.

It was as pretty as a catch as you'll see.

And Reagor can get open with his speed, as he did down the sideline on a pass into the end zone in the final minute.

He dropped the ball as he tried to catch it over his shoulder.

And Reagor can run around and find some space in the middle of the field, as he did on fourth-and-10 from the Giants' 27-yard line, in perfect position to catch Jalen Hurts' pass at the 1-yard line with 25 seconds left.

He dropped that one, too.

That was the Eagles' final chance.

"Just two drops that I would say is very uncharacteristic," Reagor said. "Just gotta go through the highs and lows, go to the next week and make the plays."

Really, the Eagles have no choice.

The Giants made it a point to stop Smith and Goedert. Smith had two catches for 22 yards, and Goedert had one catch for zero yards.

Neither was targeted on the final drive.

Sirianni, however, didn't quite see it that way when asked if the Giants did anything differently against Smith and Goedert.

"Nothing in particular," he said. "They doubled Dallas a couple times on third down. … They put (cornerback James) Bradberry on DeVonta, but I felt good about that matchup."

So the Eagles continued to go back to the 20th century with their offense.

They racked up 208 yards on the ground, the third straight game they surpassed 200 yards, something they hadn't done since 1978. They surpassed 175 yards rushing for the fifth straight game, something they hadn't done since 1950.

Part of that is because Hurts is dynamic as a runner. He rushed for 77 yards on eight carries and has 695 yards on the ground this season.

Eagles. Phillies. College and high school sports. Subscribe to Delaware Online to get every story.

Another part is Hurts isn't a strong pocket passer, so the running game cuts down on his throwing opportunities, and hence, mistakes.

Except when it didn’t.

Hurts’ second interception was particularly egregious at the end of the first half from the Giants' 1. Hurts rolled to his right to escape pressure. Instead of throwing the ball away and ending the half with a field goal, Hurts was picked off by Tae Crowder in the end zone.

"It’s never going to be an A, B, C or D if you turn it over three times, right?" Sirianni said, implying that Hurts' grade for the game was an F. "Obviously, he didn’t play good enough and we didn’t coach good enough, and it’s all of us. It’s never just one guy."

But another part is because Reagor and Arcega-Whiteside don't help Hurts out.

There was nothing wrong with Hurts' fourth-down slant pass to Reagor in the third quarter that Reagor couldn't hold. Or the deep ball to Reagor in the final minute.

And there certainly wasn't anything wrong with Hurts' fourth-down pass to Reagor at the 1 yard line in the final seconds.

Reagor got both hands on the ball, but couldn't hold it as Aaron Robinson hit him.

Then again, on that play, Smith had a step on his defender into the end zone. Hurts appeared to look his way, but didn’t throw it.

Hurts held the ball a little longer and threw to Reagor.

Sirianni said on the last three plays, the Giants had a safety deep to help on Smith.

"He wants the ball in a critical situation like that," Sirianni said about Smith. "The type of play that he wanted in that scenario wasn’t going to be good. ... We had to do what we thought was best for that one with the coverages they were playing. We didn’t execute."

If it wasn't clear before, it's clear now: The Eagles need to fix that with a veteran wide receiver in free agency who can catch the ball over the middle with the game on the line, especially when the opponent takes away Smith.

Smith knew that when he stormed off the field, yelling and screaming.

Hurts knew it, too, when he bent over at the waist as the Eagles' final chance slipped away.

You can bet Howie Roseman knows it, too.

Contact Martin Frank at mfrank@delawareonline.com. Follow on Twitter @Mfranknfl.

This article originally appeared on Delaware News Journal: Eagles have wide receiver problem beyond Jalen Reagor's drops vs. Giants

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting