Cornerback or wide receiver: What do the Eagles need more? Part 1 of 3

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) has the ball knocked away by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers (26) on a two point conversion in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) has the ball knocked away by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers (26) on a two point conversion in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

The Philadelphia Eagles record sits at 5 – 9 after a loss to the Baltimore Ravens by a point on Sunday.

If you’ve been watching the Eagles all year, most would come to the conclusion that the biggest needs for this team are at the wide receiver or cornerback position. In the words of President-Elect Donald Trump, the Eagles wide receiver group has been a disaster. Nelson Agholor, Jordan Matthews, and Dorial Green-Beckham will be the main topic after the season concludes. Keep in mind Bryce Treggs, and Paul Turner weren’t on the active roster for the majority of the season.

This team has a lot of work to do to improve, but one of the most important areas of concern is with the receivers. In this article, we’ll examine the top three on the depth chart.

Let’s begin.

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) moves the ball against Baltimore Ravens cornerback Jerraud Powers (26) in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Let’s look at some stats:

Matthews has caught 65% of the 100 passes thrown in his direction. He currently has 765 yards three touchdowns to go along with six drops. Agholor, on the other hand has only caught 55% of his passes. He’s been targeted 60 times and caught 33 of those attempts for 309 yards. He also has a ton of drops and one touchdown on the season. Green-Beckham’s been targeted 64 times and has 33 receptions. That’s good for 359 yards and a 51.6% reception percentage. He’s totaled 359 yards, three drops and two touchdowns on the year.

To sum it all up, the Eagles’ starting wide receivers have caught 58% of their passes. They have 1430 receiving yards as a group, way too many drops and six touchdowns on the season. New York Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been targeted 134 times and caught 79 of those passes attempts (59%) and has outperformed three Eagles receivers with 1,109 yards and nine touchdowns on the season.

The Eagles haven’t had his level of talent at wide receiver since DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin left. With no one gaining anything after the catch, another glaring problem has come into focus.

  • Matthews has 229 yards after catch (an average of 3.52 yards).
  • Agholor has 105 yards after catch (an average of 3.18 yards).
  • Green-Beckham has 129 yards after catch (an average of 3.9 yards).

That may seem like it isn’t a big deal, but compare that to some of the league leaders:

  • Beckham has 422 yards after catch (an average of 5.34)
  • Julio Jones has 390 yards after catch (an average of 5.41)
  • Landry Jones has 490 yards after catch (an average of 5.97)
  • Amari Cooper has 411 yards after catch (an average of 5.63)
Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (17) defended by Baltimore Ravens safety Lardarius Webb (21) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Nelson Agholor (17) defended by Baltimore Ravens safety Lardarius Webb (21) at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Mitch Stringer-USA TODAY Sports

Nelson Agholor:

Agholor may be the worst receiver the Eagles have. He was drafted by the Eagles in the first-round with the 20th overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft. Agholor was drafted to eventually replace Jeremy Maclin. Maclin left following Chip Kelly‘s refusal to re-sign him. Agholor has two touchdowns in two years. That sums it all up.

He’s a BUST!

(Since being drafted, Nelson has had 57 receptions, 601 receiving yards (an average of 10.5 receiving yards with a long of 53). He also has two touchdowns, two fumbles and has lost one of those.

Oct 4, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett (30) breaks up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Oct 4, 2015; Landover, MD, USA; Washington Redskins strong safety Kyshoen Jarrett (30) breaks up a pass intended for Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jordan Matthews (81) in the third quarter at FedEx Field. The Redskins won 23-20. Mandatory Credit: Geoff Burke-USA TODAY Sports

Jordan Matthews:

Matthews has been rookie quarterback Carson Wentz’s favorite target but has still been somewhat of a disappointment. Matthews was drafted by the Eagles in the second-round round of the 2014 NFL draft (42nd overall). A lot of pressure was placed on him following DeSean Jackson being cut by Kelly for an unknown reason, and, for the most part, he’s struggled to meet those expectations.

Matthews has moments where you see the potential. Then, he turns around and drops the easier passes to catch. Just last week against the Washington RedskinsWentz hit him in the corner of the end zone, but he couldn’t get his toe down for the go ahead touchdown. It’s unbelievable and frustrating that he’s a starter in the NFL and he can’t drag his toe. He has to be more consistent if he wants to be a top slot receiver.

(Since being drafted, Matthews has had 223 receptions, 2,661 receiving yards (11.6 yards per reception with a long of 78) and 19 touchdowns. He’s also fumbled three times and lost one of those.)

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (18) has a pass knocked away by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (36) in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Dorial Green-Beckham (18) has a pass knocked away by Baltimore Ravens cornerback Tavon Young (36) in the fourth quarter at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Dorial Green-Beckham:

Green-Beckham is the newcomer of the group, but he’s in the same boat as Matthews. The Eagles acquired him via trade with the Tennessee Titans in exchange for a  2012 fifth-round pick and offensive lineman Dennis Kelly. Green-Beckham is 6’5, 237 founds and was expected to be the boost at the receiver position that the Eagles desperately needed. He’s done little to help this team win. He doesn’t seem to not know how to use his height. Against the Baltimore Ravens, he let a 5’9, 177 pound corner, Tavon Young, out muscle him for the ball in the end zone to force an incomplete pass. That’s embarrassing!

(Since being drafted, Green Beckham has 66 receptions, 919 receiving yards and six touchdowns for his career.)

Dec 18, 2016; Baltimore, MD, USA; Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz (11) throws a pass in the first quarter against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Evan Habeeb-USA TODAY Sports

Conclusion:

As a whole, the receivers always seem to come up short when the team needs them most. The Eagles can do one of two things to fix their problems:

  1. They can add one receiver and keep Matthews and Green-Beckham.
  2. They can add two receivers and leave Matthews in the slot.

Regardless of what they decide to do, trading Agholor must be a priority. Cutting him is too expensive. The only way he should see the field should be if there’s an injury to a starter. There are options in free agency. We’ve mentioned Jackson. There’s also Alshon Jeffery, Kenny Britt, Terrelle Pryor, and Josh Gordon. 

There are also options in the draft, including Mike Williams, Corey Davis, John Ross, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Dede Westbrook, Isaiah Ford, Isaiah Jones, and Amara Darboh.

Watch out for part two of this “Eagles’ Biggest Need, Cornerback or Wide Receiver” to get perspective on the corner position.

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