After having to fight his way onto the field for some playing time as a rookie, it seems as if Quez Watkins is entering year two in much better stead. Last season, Watkins started the year on IR and made his debut late into the season. Fans were excited because of the speed that the rookie possessed. Unfortunately, we didn’t see much of it due to the odd nature of the Eagles’ WR rotation. It was all about the veterans even though the veterans couldn’t move the chains on offense.
Now in his second year, it seems as if Watkins isn’t leaving anything to chance. It shouldn’t be a surprise that Watkins is shooting for a guaranteed role in this team’s rotation as opposed to being on the outside looking in. When asked about this offseason, he made it clear that he’s approached it with a chip on his shoulder.
“This whole offseason I just made everything personal. Everything people said I couldn’t do. ‘I was only fast.’ I just made everything personal and put the work in.”
With DeVonta Smith out for a couple of weeks, Quez wasted no time on taking away the spotlight. He ran with the idea and set the Linc on fire during the preseason opener. Joe Flacco checked in to a screen pass after reading the defense and gave it to Watkins behind the line of scrimmage. The rest was history as he took it to the house for a 79-yard touchdown pass. Earlier in the game, Watkins had a chance at a longer touchdown pass but was held up by the defender as Hurts through the ball to him in stride. A couple of steps away from a sure-fire touchdown pass.
When asked about the progress of the second-year wideout, Head Coach Nick Sirianni had nothing but glowing praise:
Yeah, well, any time you get a guy that can run like Quez can, that’s obviously a very big threat to the defense. Softens them up. We have seen that, right? You guys have been at all the practices. You’ve seen him get behind the defense, make some plays on the ball. That’s what impressive with Quez, he has good strong hands that can go up and make plays. He has that speed and can go up and make plays. So that’s a weapon that we’re hoping to continue to develop. He got behind the defense on the one, made the run after a catch, and that’s what you look for, a guy who can — now we just want to see him separate in the intermediate game too, and then you would’ve seen all three. But excited about his development. [Eagles wide receivers coach] Aaron Moorehead has done a great job developing him, and Quez has done a great job of just getting better every day. So just look forward to correcting the mistakes that he made tonight and growing from the good things that he did tonight.
The Eagles coaching staff may have tipped their hand a bit on what the WR set up may look like heading into the season. Jalen Reagor was mostly featured in the slot when they ran 3-WR sets, with Watkins was on the outside. One should think that it will be DeVonta Smith lining up opposite of Quez when the season starts, if it’s speed the team wants and it’s a chance of success that they want to give to Jalen Hurts.
Quez showcased his speed last season as he took another screen pass to the house for a score against the Arizona Cardinals. What remains to be seen is what he can do down the field for his QB. We all saw a glimpse of that potential when he made a highlight-reel catch at the Eagles’ open practice but outside of that, there hasn’t been much. Look for the team to get him involved early and often down the field in the next couple of preseason games to really see what he’s made of. If Watkins can handle that then it’ll make Howie look like a genius for stealing him so late.
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