Checking in on Jalen Reagor and Eagles WRs

The pass-catchers were one topic discussed by Doug Pederson on Wednesday
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Yeah, there’s still one game left to play on Sunday, but nobody wanted to ask Doug Pederson about it or the opponent, the Washington Football Team, on Wednesday.

Nobody seemed interested in asking the Eagles coach about Carson Wentz, either. After Pederson said on Monday, he wants to fix things, it would have been nice to ask if the coach believes Wentz can be fixed, what it will take, and how high on the fix-it list that is.

For what it’s worth, it’s extremely rare that the moderator calls on me to ask a question of Pederson, though I keep raising my hand. It’s the same questioners time after time, so with apologies to the ones who get to ask questions, my wagon is often forced to get hitched to your themes.

The topic of wide receivers came up a time or two, and how much better they seem to be playing now. Well, maybe not better, but at least they are being included with Jalen Hurts at the helm.

Since the rookie took over behind center, Eagles receivers have combined to catch 33 passes for 525 yards and four touchdowns. In the last two games, Hurts and his wideouts have combined to average 11 yards per target.

Even without DeSean Jackson’s 81-yard TD against Dallas last week, the numbers still pop.

“I think you’re seeing the fruits of their labor,” said Pederson. “I think you’re seeing the hard work pay off. I think you’re seeing, from the coaching staff, the things that I’ve mentioned … if we have to scale back as a staff and repeat plays. I can call a play again in a game, and the opportunities that we’re providing in practice for guys to be successful. 

"It’s guys understanding how to play this game, and how to play it the right way … I think that’s what you’re seeing with our players. They’re having more time on task. It’s paid off for them.”

Yeah, it kind of has, but the big games, those 100-plus-yard outings, haven’t been there.

Travis Fulgham went for over 100 against the Steelers, but no other receiver has. Not one of the young guys has separated himself, including Jalen Reagor, whose targets have increased, but his numbers haven’t.

The rookie was set back by missing five games following thumb surgery in late September, still, though, he hasn’t done anything that would indicate he can be one of the superstars pass-catchers that this past draft has seemed to yield in Justin Jefferson, Brandon Aiyuk, and even Tee Higgins.

Reagor has 10 catches in Hurts’ starts for 125 yards but no touchdowns.

“Obviously, Jalen is a talented guy and a lot of it will fall on us as coaches to prepare our players and get them ready,” said Pederson. “Then the other half of it falls on the player to get himself prepared and how well he comes in and understands and picks up the offense in this case. What was it week 2 against the Rams, is when he got hurt, and now, he misses (five) weeks and now he's done for (five) weeks.

“That growth process, you're starting to see glimpses of it now, towards the end of the season with him that we were hoping for in weeks 3 and 4 in the regular season but he had the injury and it set him back.”

Also included in that question about Reagor was J.J. Arcega-Whiteside. Pederson said nothing about Arcega-Whiteside, who hasn’t played a snap in the last seven games. If he is back in 2021, it will be a surprise.

There were no questions to Pederson about whether or not what role, if any, DeSean Jackson or Alshon Jeffery might have in a game where a win actually does harm to the team’s draft selection.

Their presence has cost John Hightower snaps. Since Hurts entered the lineup, Hightower has been inactive on game day. In Week 3, he played 78 snaps. Now, he’s down to zero.

Quez Watkins has come on, though.

The whole receiver situation has seemed so random from week to week, almost uncoordinated, and as the offensive coordinator doubling as the head coach, that’s not a good look for Pederson.

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