In Roob's Observations: Whose fault is Jalen Reagor's slow start? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Growing concerns about Jalen Reagor, how the Eagles have to attack the Chargers, the Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week and lots more in this week’s Roob’s Random Eagles Observations!
1. Jalen Reagor has gone eight straight games without a catch of at least 25 yards. He doesn’t even run deep routes anymore. The idea seems to be: Try to get Reagor the ball on high-percentage throws and let him use his speed to get big-time yards after the catch. But it’s not working. Reagor’s 8.3 average this year ranks 107th out of 108 receivers with at least 10 catches, ahead of only 36-year-old Dany Amendola of the Texans. Out of 259 WRs in Eagles history who caught at least 20 passes in a season, that 8.3 ranks 257th – ahead of Greg Ward last year (7.9) and Josh Huff in 2016 (5.5). Of Reagor’s 20 catches this year, five have gone for one yard or less and only five have gone for more than 10 yards. He’s on pace for 350 yards in a 17-game season. Whose fault is all this? The play caller? The quarterback? Reagor himself? Sirianni can certainly do a better job trying to draw up plays to get Reagor the ball, and Hurts can always do a better job delivering him the football. But this is mainly a Jalen Reagor problem. Ultimately, it’s up to him to start making plays.
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2. I wrote earlier this week about how much more effective Boston Scott and Jordan Howard have been throughout their careers in the deep red zone than Miles Sanders. And that wasn’t a knock on Sanders, it’s just that different backs have different skill sets and excel in different situations. And in those situations down at the goal-line, where Sanders has struggled, Scott and Howard’s skills make them very effective. They’re both tough, straight-ahead runners with great vision and balance. Then I started wondering about the flip side. What about in the rest of the field? My hunch was that Sanders is one of the best running backs in the NFL between the 20s. So I crunched the numbers using Stathead’s game play finder, and here’s what I found: On plays starting outside the opposing red zone, Sanders is averaging 5.3 yards per carry in his career. Among 52 players with at least 200 carries since 2019, that’s 10th-best. It’s not as simple as giving Sanders the ball between the 20s and Howard and Scott near the goal-line. But it’s important for Sirianni to understand what all his backs do best and play to their strengths.
3. Odell Beckham Jr. is just about the last guy the Eagles need to bring in. He’d cost too much and block the young receivers that need reps. Plus, he’s played just 42 games in the last five years and hasn’t been elite for a long time. And that doesn’t even get into his lack of culture fit. This team has brought in way too many declining veterans over the years to cover up for the lack of quality draft picks. The Eagles do have some promising young WRs. They need to play. Not sit.
4. Travis Fulgham led the Eagles in receiving last year. He’s been on the Dolphins’ practice squad since the Eagles cut him from their practice squad a few weeks ago, and he doesn’t have a catch this year. Which got me wondering who the last player was who led the Eagles in receiving one year and didn’t catch a pass the next year. The answer is Pete Retzlaff, who had a team-high 653 receiving yards in 1966 at 35 years old and then retired after the season. Now you know.
5. He’s thrown some ugly interceptions, suffered some bad losses, made some questionable decisions. But nine games into the season, the Colts’ starting quarterback has produced some pretty sweet numbers: 63 percent completion, 17 TDs and 3 INTs, 244 yards per game and a 4-2 record since that 0-3 start. He hasn’t looked like the 2017 version of CW but he sure hasn’t looked like the 2020 version, either. The most important thing for our purposes is that he’s played 597 of 602 snaps. Based on the Colts averaging 67 plays a game, CW only needs 257 more snaps to turn that 2nd-round pick into a 1st-round pick. He should get that in four weeks. But beyond that, it’s been interesting watching how much more effective he’s been this year than last year. Frank Reich deserves a ton of credit for helping transform a guy who looked like a lost cause under Doug Pederson back into a very good NFL quarterback. Dude in Indy is on pace for 32 TDs, 6 INTs and 4,100 passing yards. The only players who’ve ever done that in a 16-game season are Patrick Mahomes and Aaron Rodgers. I know there’s a portion of Eagles fans who refuse to give him any credit for anything. And I'm no fan of the way he wormed his way outta here. But the reality is that he's been playing really well, especially over the last six weeks, when he’s got a higher passer rating than Tom Brady, Aaron Rodgers and Lamar Jackson. Gotta give credit where credit is due.
6. The Chargers have the worst run defense in the NFL. They’re allowing 160 rushing yards per game and 5.1 yards per carry. They’ve allowed 185 rushing yards FOUR TIMES in their last six games and when they’ve been on the road they’re allowing 166 rushing yards per game and 5.3 yards per carry. They just can't stop the run. I’m thinking 35 to 40 carries Sunday. This is a big test for Sirianni. What did he learn from the Lions game? Will he dial up the ground attack and use it to take command of the line of scrimmage again? He better. And if the first few runs don’t work, stick with it. Don’t give up. Eventually, it will work.
7. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Remember what a problem interceptions were for Hurts last year? With just four INTs in 256 attempts this year, Hurts has now thrown an INT every 51 attempts in his career. That’s the 14th-best interception percentage in NFL history (minimum 400 attempts). He’s averaging one every 64 attempts this year, which would be 4th-best in Eagles history over a full season behind Nick Foles in 2013 (one INT every 159 attempts), Guy in Indy in 2019 (one every 87 attempts) and Donovan McNabb in 2007 (one every 68).
8. Isn't it surprising that the Eagles are 13th in the NFL in scoring? It doesn’t hurt the average when you put 44 up, but every team has one of those somewhere along the line. I don’t feel like the Eagles have done anything consistently well this year on offense – except block – and they’re still averaging 25.4 points per game, well above the league average of 23.6. If they run the ball 30 times a game, get DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins more involved and figure out how to get Jalen Hurts to cut down on his bad misses, this will be a legitimate offense.
9. More than half of the 63 Eagles who played at least one game during the Super Bowl championship season are now out of the league. Some 35 out of the 63 are not currently on an NFL roster, practice squad or Injured Reserve. More than half the starters are out of the league also (23 of 42). Only 10 of the 63 are still with the Eagles, including three on IR.
10. If it were my call, I’d start Marcus Epps over Anthony Harris.
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