2004: Terrell Owens led the way with as good of a season as anyone has had under Andy Reid, catching 77 passes for 1,200 yards and 14 touchdowns in 14 games. Behind Owens, though, there was a dramatic drop off. Todd Pinkston caught 36 asses for 676 yards and 1 touchdown, while Freddie Mitchell had 22 receptions for 377 yards and 2 scores. Greg Lewis was the number four, with 17 catches for 183 yards and no scores. This was a top-heavy group with a player capable of taking over a game, but little depth.
2010: This is as deep of a wide receiving corps as the Eagles have had under Andy Reid and maybe the deepest in franchise history. DeSean Jackson is on pace for 51 catches, 1,016 yards and 7 touchdowns. Jeremy Maclin is projected to catch 75 balls for 1,093 yards and 11 scores. Maclin flies under the radar, but those numbers would be 2 catches, 107 yards and 3 touchdowns shy of Terrell Owens. The key difference is that Maclin isn’t getting the defensive attention that T.O. received as the only outside target. Jason Avant is on pace for 56 catches for 644 yards and a touchdown. Riley Cooper is projected to catch 7 passes for 133 yards and a touchdown.
Edge: Too close to call. It really comes down to whether you’d prefer one dominant target who is going to be the go-to player in the clutch or the depth that means anyone could step up at any time. If you compare the top two targets in 2004 to 2010, you get 113 receptions for 1,876 yards and 15 touchdowns in 2004. In 2010, the pace is 126 catches, 2,109 yards and 18 touchdowns. When you add in the number three, it becomes an even bigger advantage for 2010: 135-2253-17 then and 182-2753-19. Still, this has to be a push given that the current version doesn’t have a sure-fire go-to player if the game is on the line in the last few minutes.
2004: L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis shared the duties. Smith had 34 catches for 377 yards and 5 touchdowns, while Lewis caught 29 passes for 267 yards and 3 scores.
2010: Brent Celek, even in a down year statistically, is on pace for 40 catches, 456 yards and 4 touchdowns. Clay Harbor has emerged as the number two, but is only on pace for 4 catches for 44 yards.
Edge: 2010. Celek has played better of late and Harbor is likely to improve down the stretch. Both Celek now and Smith in 2004 were prone to drops, but Celek is a more complete player as his blocking has improved. Celek also has more big play potential.