Last season, it was almost undoubtedly clear that the weakest position on the Eagles roster was the wide receiver position. It became more and more clear as the games went on that Jordan Matthews, Nelson Agholor, and Dorial Green-Beckham were not going to get it done. The Birds finished with 224.1 passing yards per game which was only good enough for 24th in the league. Howie Roseman was very prominent in telling the media that this offseason, the Eagles had to add multiple weapons around QB Carson Wentz, and that is exactly what Philadelphia did. On the first day of free agency, the Eagles did add those “weapons” previously talked about by signing wide receivers Alshon Jeffery and Torrey Smith. The move instantly takes the Eagles WR core from one of the bottom five in the league to arguably a top-ten unit. As each day passes and the 2017 season gets closer and closer, fans are becoming more excited about what this Eagles offense can accomplish this year. Here are a few reasons why the Eagles offense will be much more dynamic this season.
True Red-Zone Target
One thing this Eagles team lacked significantly last season was a true red zone target; someone that you can throw a jump ball to in the corner of the end zone and expect him to come down with it every time. Dorial Green-Beckham was brought in for this role in August, but it quickly became evident that he was not ready for this role. Bringing in Alshon Jeffery is huge in the aspect that he can go up and catch nearly every ball that is thrown his way. At 6’3”, Jeffery has outstanding leaping ability and can get up higher then almost every corner in the NFL, which gives Wentz a vertical option every time the Birds are in the red-zone. Jeffery is also an outstanding route runner, and has made a living out of running short crossing patterns. This will be crucial on those 3rd and short plays when the Eagles are deep in the Red-Zone. Alshon Jeffery gives Carson Wentz a receiver that he could have only dreamed about last season.
One experiment that failed miserably during the 2016 season was the Eagles relying on Nelson Agholor and Bryce Treggs as the team’s deep-threat wide receivers. Whether it was Nelson Agholor dropping a would-be touchdown, or Treggs losing the ball in the air leading to an interception, the Eagles made the right decision to bring in Torrey Smith to serve as the team’s deep threat target to help open up the field for the rest of the offense. While Smith did struggle in San Francisco with only 53 catches, 930 yards, and 7 touchdowns, there was also very poor quarterback play. While in Baltimore with Joe Flacco, Smith excelled especially during the 2014 season when he reeled in 65 catches, while also adding 1,128 receiving yards, and a career best 11 touchdowns. If he can return to his Ravens form, Carson Wentz will be throwing to one of the top deep threat options in the league.
What could easily be the best and most underrated move all offseason was the Eagles hiring Mike Groh as the team’s new wide receiver coach. Last season, Groh served as the passing game coordinator for the Los Angeles Rams. Groh was Alshon Jeffery’s WR coach in Chicago from 2013 to 2015. Groh could have been one of the major factors leading to Jeffery’s decision to sign in Philadelphia last month. Groh does have a daunting task ahead of him trying to improve this wide receiver core from all the problems it dealt with last season. Eagles receivers dropped 24 passes last season, so Mike Groh will try to limit that number as much as possible. All of Groh’s former players speak very highly of him and his impact on younger players. This could be vital for players like Nelson Agholor and Jordan Matthews, who are both still growing as players, hoping to take their games to the next level. Groh could very well be the deciding factor on how much this wide receiver position can improve going into next season.
Whether it is all positive or not, the Eagles offense will look completely different compared to last season. Carson Wentz finally has weapons to throw to on the the outside. Only time will tell whether the Eagles passing game will improve in 2017.
Photo: Brettwilk (via: Wikimedia Commons)