Depth at skill positions is driving Eagles Offense to success

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The Eagles Offense has been rolling through the NFL in the opening five weeks of the season. Much has been said about Carson Wentz and his stunning development between years one and two, but the abundance of depth at skill positions is what has helped Pederson’s group reach new heights through the opening six weeks of the season.

With his strong outing against the Panthers, Wentz became there first Eagle to throw 3+ touchdowns in back-to-back games since Nick Foles back in 2013. With two scores to Ertz and one to Agholor, the Eagles Offense is really beginning to carve out a new identity on the outside…but it hasn’t stopped them from punishing Defenses along the way. The Eagles have scored 20+ points in ten consecutive games which is now the longest active streak in the NFL. The team have also produced the most 20+ point games since the start of last season. Their 165 points this year are now the most through 6 games since 2014. It’s safe to say that the Eagles have a new meaner, greener look offensively and while Ertz, Agholor and Jeffery may steal the show…it’s those slightly lower on the roster showing real value.

In the win over Caroline, both Marcus Johnson and Mack Hollins caught passes from Carson Wentz, as did every active wide receiver. The former Texas Longhorn who went undrafted last year already has a pair of receptions for 22 yards this year, while the Eagles exciting special teams ace has 70 yards on the season. The Eagles have such a dangerous set of starting wideouts that it almost becomes too easy for names like Johnson and Hollins to slip through the cracks.

“It is a plan to get he and [WR] Marcus Johnson both.” Pederson said after the win. “Marcus had a nice catch on the sideline during the game. Mack had a couple of catches. It’s good to see our young receivers step up in big contests, big games and make plays. Both of them did a nice job in this game and could see their roles increase. It just gives us added depth, and it gives a chance for [WR] Alshon [Jeffery], [WR] Torrey [Smith], and [WR] Nelson [Agholor] at times to take a breather. Carson has a lot of confidence in both of those guys.”

This season, a total of 13 players have caught passes from the young signal caller for a total of 1,584 yards through the opening six games of the season. 16 players caught passes from Wentz throughout the entire 2016 campaign for 3,798 yards. The difference in efficiency is staggering.

 

At tight end, the recently tendered Trey Burton has been an invaluable asset to Carson Wentz after drumming up chemistry during his limited days as QB3. Burton went on to have a career year last season and already has 42 yards and a score to his name.

In the backfield, that depth could not be more pivotal. The Eagles rushing attack has been lethal in the last few weeks. Without Darren Sproles or Wendell Smallwood, it was thought that the unit may begin to fold…at least that’s what the picture looked like after two dismal efforts to start the year followed by a week three breakout. However what we have seen is nothing short of impressive.

LeGarrette Blount has spearheaded the offensive charge for the Eagles, while the efforts of both Corey Clement and Kenjon Barner have helped the Eagles rack up 790 yards on the ground through six games. The Eagles had more depth at their disposal this time last year yet struggled to come anywhere close to the consistency that this group has been able to find.

There are no ego’s on this team. Everybody in that locker room shares the same vision, respect, and appreciation for the game and their teammates. When you can turn a group of deadly talented individuals into a team, that’s when a franchise becomes a contender.

“I think one, it’s how well that new piece just embraces their role on the team.” Peterson said. “Then how we, as coaches, see these pieces being used in the offense or defensive plan. I can tell you that on offense with [RB] LeGarrette [Blount] and with Alshon and Torrey, these guys that have come in, even [RB] Kenjon [Barner] now, just they don’t feel like they need the ball every time. This is such a great — this is a team sport, and [when] everybody does their job, the success rate goes up. Same way on defense.”

Alshon Jeffery hasn’t been a dominant number one receiver, but he hasn’t had to be. Leading the Eagles in receiving yards against the Panthers was more than enough to help the team to a victory. Just like Steph Curry doesn’t need to put the Warriors on his back each and every game, the Eagles have players who can step up to the plate if others are being smothered…which is exactly what we have seen to Nelson Agholor recently.

Alshon Jeffery was lined up against elite corners for a total of 57% of his snaps going into week six, with 42% of his receptions coming against top-25 rated corners. With Jeffery being shadowed by the likes of Patrick Peterson, it’s been the USC wideout who has resurged. With over 50 yards in each of his last three games and a touchdown in his last two, Agholor and Torrey Smith alike have been able to pick up on defensive deficiencies as all attention turns to Jeffery, just as Burton has been able to with Ertz, and the backfield rotation have with Clement.

This isn’t just a good team. This is a deep team. And that may be the single biggest factor that drives this offense to stardom. Injuries will come and go, players will rise and fall…but the Eagles always have a next man up.

 

Mandatory Credit: Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

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