September 21, 2015
Since Chip Kelly became the head coach in Philly, the Eagles have invested heavily in pass catchers, both via the draft and signing players to lucrative contracts.
•They drafted Zach Ertz 35th overall in 2013.
• They traded up and drafted Jordan Matthews 42nd overall in the 2014 draft.
• Also in the 2014 draft, they took Josh Huff in the third round, at 86th overall.
• In 2015, they used their first round pick (20th overall) on Nelson Agholor.
• Before the 2014 season, they gave Riley Cooper a five year contract extension worth $22,500,000.
• Prior to this season, they signed Miles Austin to a $2.3 million deal.
In return, the Eagles are getting terrible play from their pass catchers, who have not demonstrated the ability to, you know, catch the football.
"There were a couple key drops that didn't help on a day when we are not running the ball very well," said Chip Kelly. "You've got to be a lot cleaner in the pass game and we weren't."
"It’s part of the game, it happens," said Sam Bradford. "Obviously you hate for them to happen but hopefully we are just getting them all out of the way early.”
Here are the lowlights over the first two games of the season.
Second drive, third down, and a chance to get some rhythm going...
Matthews has a decent chance of simply falling backward for the first down after this catch. Instead, punt.
Again, third down, well placed ball, and...
Credit the defensive back for getting his hand in between Austin's arms to help break up the play, but this is a pass Austin should have. You can see that he didn't catch it cleanly initially, which gave the defensive back a chance to make a play. Good receivers catch this.
Hey look, another third down. This time Riley Cooper has a rare chance to be useful, but...
But he's a great blocker!
Here the Eagles have a chance to make a play down the field on second and inches, except...
The Eagles were better off with Riley Cooper dropping this pass on this three-ring circus of a play, but still...
That would be two targets for Cooper, two drops. BUT HE'S A GREAT BLOCKER!!!
This one isn't totally egregious by Ertz, as the defensive back got his hand on Ertz's arm as the ball was coming in, but it's another example of the Cowboys making a play, and the Eagles, not...
And that just about sealed the Cowboys' win.
All these drops weren't new, mind you. The Eagles' awfulness in the passing game was evident Week 1 in Atlanta. Let's just keep going:
It's difficult to know whether Huff should have been looking for a potential throw here, or if Bradford threw to a receiver he should have known was blocking for a run play, but obviously, this is not good.
By letter of the law, most wouldn't consider this a drop. Austin gets his head around way too late, and he throws his right hand up to try to make a one-handed snag, but cannot. The pass from Sam Bradford leads Austin juuuust a little too far up the field, but it's a ball that should reasonably be expected to be caught if Austin is ready for it. However you want to classify it, it's a missed opportunity.
Again, the Eagles are probably better off that Murray dropped this, but it's yet another case of an Eagle dropping a football he didn't mean to drop.
And finally, the game-ender last week in Atlanta...
For the most part, the above isn't scheme, or some other larger issue. It's simply football players not catching the football.
Follow Jimmy on Twitter: @JimmyKempski