The Eagles may sit atop the NFC East, but their 2-4-1 record paints a picture of a team that has struggled all season long. That may well be the case in many places, but one of the biggest bright spots in the team has been the rushed development of wide receivers and more specifically, the man responsible – WR Coach Aaron Moorehead.
Last year, when the Eagles WR Corps was ripped to shreds by an injury crisis, Greg Ward Jr. stepped up to the plate in a big way. Outside of a deep catch from Deontay Burnett and a PI from Shelton Gibson, receiving production was extremely minimal.
Even prior to that, Nelson Agholor ended his last season in Philly with 363 yards and 3 touchdowns, and Alshon Jeffery’s 490 yards and 4 touchdowns in 10 games were another disappointment.
The saving grace last year was that Wentz could still lean on a pair of dynamic tight ends and an explosive rookie running back. All three of those players have been missing in action, leaving Wentz no choice but to lean on his skill-position players. It’s oddly something that has turned out to be a blessing.
Now seven games into the season, late-arrival Travis Fulgham has 357 receiving yards and 3 scores, while Greg Ward Jr. has 233 yards and another trio of touchdowns.
Rookie wideout John Hightower has had his struggles, but now has a 50+ yard reception in each of his last two games.
Prior to injury, first-round pick Jalen Reagor picked up 96 yards in two games, but that could’ve easily been so much more if Wentz hadn’t missed some wide-open passes.
Either way, it’s safe to say that the fact the Eagles have found production from almost every wideout on the roster (Sorry JJAW) can be partially attributed to the hiring of Aaron Moorehead.
Moorehead’s first few months as WR Coach were hardly smooth. With no OTA’s, no preseason, and a limited Training Camp, it was always going to be a challenge to get so many new young players up to speed. But he’s gone beyond the Call of Duty to do so and earned the praise of QB Coach Press Taylor in the process.
“They do a great job. They’re all extremely eager to learn, and that’s been the awesome part about it. [Wide receivers coach] Aaron [Moorehead] and Jason Avant and [assistant wide receivers coach] Matthew Harper, those guys have done a great job spending extra time with those young guys specifically.” Taylor said earlier this year. “Obviously, we brought them in early before training camp. They were in before the vets. We were able to really pour into them, get a lot of reps. You’re never going to make up what you missed in the spring, but we were able to invest a lot of time in those guys, have the quarterbacks around them, be in communication with those guys throughout, and they’ve all done a great job attacking this thing, making sure they’re asking the right questions, making sure they’re getting reps they need, studying off other guys’ reps. That’s one of the most valuable things you can get out of this stuff, and I think those guys have done a great job being eager to learn.”
Formerly a wide receivers coach at Vanderbilt, Morehead had three separate stints at the collegiate level before joining the Eagles and replacing Carson Walch. One with Texas Tech, and another with Auburn.
For context, here’s how the leading receiver fared in each team he’s positionally coached the receivers:
2019: Kalijah Lipscomb: 511 yards, 4 TD, 13 games
2018: Kalijah Lipscomb: 916 yards, 9 TD, 10 games
2017: Christian Kirk: 919 yards, 10 TD, 13 games
2016: Christian Kirk: 928 yards, 9 TD, 13 games
2015: Christian Kirk: 1,009 yards, 7 TD, 13 games
2014: Sammie Coates, 741 yards, 4 TD, 13 games
2013: Sammie Coates, 902 yards, 7 TD, 13 games
All the signs were there.
The most important thing here is that the Eagles seem to have finally found some stability at the position. They’ve had a different WR coach in each of their last five seasons and to say it probably impacted the growth of names like Nelson Agholor, Mack Hollins, or any wideout for that matter.
To go from seeing the WR position constantly criticized, to being genuinely excited to see how players like Fulgham will perform on a weekly basis is quite the contrast. To do so in a year where the offseason was so limited and positional depth down to its bare bones is a real testament to the work Moorehead has done so far.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire