EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 13: Brent Celek #87 of the Philadelphia Eagles celebrates after scoring a touchdown in the first quarter against the New York Giants at Giants Stadium on December 13, 2009 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Michael Heiman/Getty Images)
Last year, Brent Celek put up ridiculous numbers as the Eagles' leading receiver: 76 receptions for 971 yards and 8 touchdowns. Those statistics put Celek among the elite group of NFL tight ends.
Then Donovan McNabb left.
Many people, including myself, didn't see that as such a bad thing. In fact, I predicted an absolute monster 2009 for Celek, since he would be thrown to by good friend Kevin Kolb, a young quarterback who makes extremely accurate short range passes.
So much for that prediction.
With and (mostly) without Kolb in the lineup, Celek's numbers have been uninspiring. If he keeps up this pace, he'll finish with just 48 receptions for 512 yards and 4 touchdowns -- not what we expected after he signed a 6-year contract extension.
So what's the problem?
Turns out, it isn't just one thing.
For starters, he's just not getting targeted as much with Kolb or Vick under center as he did last year with McNabb. During the regular season last year, Celek was thrown to an average of 7 times a game -- good for seventh-best in the league. This season he's only targeted 5.5 times a game.
Celek's simply not as big a part of the offense anymore. He was getting 20 percent of all passes last year, but in 2010 that's dropped closer to 15 percent. Many of those short passes are going to LeSean McCoy this year.
However, it's not all on the quarterbacks. Celek hasn't been making the most of his opportunities. He caught 67.5 percent of passes thrown his way last year, but this season that catch rate has dropped precipitously, to only 54.5 percent. Furthermore, Celek hasn't been able to get the yards after the catch that he did last season, an element crucial to his success in the short and intermediate areas.
Overall, it's been a dissappointing start for Celek, and those of us who predicted great things for him this season or who drafted him in their fantasy football leagues (ugh). Hopefully, for everyone's sake, he can start turning it around.