Eagles have to make sure that history won’t repeat itself at wide receiver

MIAMI GARDENS, FL – JANUARY 11: Alabama Crimson Tide wide receiver DeVonta Smith (6) celebrates scoring a touchdown with Alabama Crimson Tide tight end Cameron Latu (81) and Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback (9) on the sidelines during the College Football Playoff National Championship football game between the Alabama Crimson Tide and the Ohio State Buckeyes on January 11, 2021 at the Hard Rock Stadium in Miami Gardens, FL. (Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire)

Despite sustained success when it came to making the playoffs, the Eagles endured a bumpy three years or so. From anonymous sources to a never-ending injury bug, the team were constantly fighting against the current. However, to say some of their struggles were self inflicted would be an understatement.

The hope now is that Nick Sirianni and his coaching staff will be able to right the wrongs from the Doug Pederson era and start building a competitive football team. While many of those are glaring to the naked eye, there’s one mistake in particular that chained the offense down in a huge way…and it’s one that Sirianni can’t afford to repeat.

Even dating back to Nelson Agholor’s final season with the Eagles, the team have had a problem with trying to make their wideouts wear too many hats. In fact, that terminology was the very reasoning given by Mike Groh as to why Agholor struggled with the Eagles in 2019. The Eagles were so focused on having their players prepared to do a little bit of everything, that they became a jack of all trades, and a master of none.

It’s ironic then that J.J Arcega-Whiteside suffered the exact same fate in the exact same year. During a season where the Eagles were starved of receiving depth, all eyes turned to the second-round pick to step up and ball out. Instead, what we saw was a wide receiver who not only struggled with injury, but apparently didn’t even know where he was lining up.

Spanish sports outlet 100yardas interviewed the former Stanford wideout after his rookie campaign. JJAW doubled down on how confusing it was to be made to learn every spot as opposed to focusing in on the X, which is the role he was drafted to play. The Eagles refused to cut him loose until he was comfortable working out of every role and this partly contributed to the stagnation in play we were all witness too.

One year later, it’s safe to say that the Eagles once again struggled to make a wideout feel comfortable. For whatever reason, Jalen Reagor struggled massively. He looked disinterested at times, misjudged plays at others, and showed a lack of awareness throughout. Maybe it was a toxic internal situation we don’t know about and he’ll be able to turn things around, but regardless of what stopped Reagor from finding his footing early, he became the third wideout in as many years to really struggle in Philadelphia.

The good news is that offensive coordinator Shane Steichen has acknowledged the fact that the wide receiver room is an extremely young one and plans on keeping things relatively simple to begin with.

 I think that’s us on coaches. We’ve got to develop these guys week in and week out. [Eagles wide receivers coach] Aaron Moorehead, so far, has done a heck of a job with these wide receivers. We’re looking forward to working with these young guys and getting them reps and getting them involved in the new system and really honing in on the details and the fundamentals and the technique of the position to make them successful. I think, if we can do that with them, they’re going to become good players. 

With Alshon Jeffery now out of the equation, Greg Ward Jr. Is now the most experienced wide receiver on the roster. Ward Jr. Was a UDFA back in 2017 who struggled to make the Eagles roster on three separate occasions before finally cracking through after some AAF experience and never looking back. Regardless, he has just one full NFL season where he’s been entrenched as a starter.

With a lack of veterans to keep the guys glued together, it will be down to the coaches to ensure that the information being given out is being processed properly and that all of the players are comfortable with the playbook and what’s being asked of them. A failure to do so would only see history repeat itself with the stakes higher than ever, given the fact that the team have drafted a first-round receiver in back-to-back seasons.

With Aaron Moorehead remaining on the staff, it’s clear that the team feel confident in their new offensive structure to ensure that a very young wide receiver group can hit the ground running. But ensuring that they do so has be to be a real focus.

(Photo by Doug Murray/Icon Sportswire