Skip to main content
Updated date:

Time is Running Out on Jalen Reagor in Philadelphia

The 2020 first-round pick is become nothing more than a decoy on the team's run-first offense

PHILADELPHIA - Justin Jefferson had 169 yards receiving last week and the Vikings' star receiver is poised to reach 1,000 for a second consecutive season in Minnesota's 11th game.

Jalen Reagor, on the other hand, has 171 yards receiving this season through 11 games for Philadelphia.

It's not Reagor's fault that the Eagles selected him with the 21st overall pick in the 2020 draft, one spot ahead of Jefferson, a route-running machine that cracked 1,400 yards as a rookie, the second-best mark in the Super Bowl era for rookies.

The comp, however, is going to follow Reagor around for the rest of his career as Jefferson shows no signs of slowing down anytime soon while the second coaching staff in as many years can't seem to figure out what to do with Reagor.

In fact, the second-year Eagles wideout is not even a factor in Nick Sirianni's offense any longer, amassing a total of four receptions for five yards over the past four games.

Jefferson's full stat line in a 34-31 win over Green Bay was eight receptions for the 169 yards and two touchdowns, and he also came up a half-yard short of TD No. 3.

Reagor has a total of three receiving TDs in his first 21 games as a pro. To date, Jefferson has a mind-boggling 2,344 yards and 13 TDs while Reagor is at 567 and three scores.

For now, Reagor's offensive role has turned into decoy on a run-based mindset that really only targets two receivers on a regular basis - 2021 first-round pick DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert.

Had Reagor performed like he was expected as a rookie, it's unlikely Smith would even be in Philadelphia but GM Howie Roseman was forced to double down at the position.

MORE: Thoughts on 10 Players after Eagles Beat Saints

Read More

The organization as a whole has essentially placed the blame on what is increasingly looking like a failed pick on the prior coaching staff that wanted a skill set that could press opposing defenses both horizontally and vertically.

The Eagles thought Jefferson was going to spend most of his time in the slot but the LSU product spends most of his time outside the numbers and already has 11 100-yard receiving games. With seven regular-season games, remaining Jefferson needs 412 yards to establish a new record for any NFL receiver during their first two seasons in the league.

As a former receiver in college, and someone who has coached the position as well,  Sirianni was supposed to get Reagor on a track to competency at least but things have gotten even worse than they were under Doug Pederson even though Reagor's playing time has increased.

From left to right, Eagles WRs Jalen Reagor, DeVonta Smith, and Quez Watkins at practice on Sept. 2, 2021

Jalen Reagor (18) during training camp with DeVonta Smith and Quez Watkins.

"There is no doubt we want to make sure those guys [Reagor and Quez Watkins] touch the ball too, because they're playmakers as well," Sirianni said earlier this week. "... those guys are mature guys, they understand how the [game] went, and there is no doubt that they want to touch the ball, right, and we want them to touch the ball."

For the time being Reagor's confidence must be rebuilt from his main role as both the kickoff and punt returner on special teams.

"Jalen has done an outstanding job in terms of kickoff return," special teams coordinator Michael Clay said. "You know, as a kickoff returner, you don't really have a lot of say. You can make a great cut off the back door and that’s all on the kickoff returner, but it’s the other 10 guys that we have to be mentally prepared for anything, especially in these later months with guys keeping the ball in play and everything.

"... But I think Jalen's done a great job. And in terms of the punt return, the last two weeks, I know it doesn't show the splash play but –I look at it as punt return as like a boxer. You got to give these body blows, these 10 yards, these 12 yards, these 13-yard returns, and then maybe, when they let their guard down after getting gashed a couple times, you hit the big one."

Reagor could certainly use a big one right about now to slow down the bust narrative.

-John McMullen contributes Eagles coverage for SI.com's EagleMaven and is the NFL Insider for JAKIB Media. You can listen to John, alongside legendary sports-talk host Jody McDonald every morning from 8-10 on ‘Birds 365,” streaming live on both PhillyVoice.com and YouTube. John is also the host of his own show "Extending the Play" on AM1490 in South Jersey. You can reach him at jmcmullen44@gmail.com or on Twitter @JFMcMullen

Ed Kracz is the publisher of SI.com’s Eagle Maven and co-host of the Eagles Unfiltered Podcast. Check out the latest Eagles news at www.SI.com/NFL/Eagles or www.eaglemaven.com and please follow him on Twitter: @kracze.