It can’t be overlooked anymore: The Philadelphia Eagles have a drop problem, and it’s seriously impacting their offense. They suffered through seven more dropped passes Sunday night in their loss against the Panthers, including one by Miles Austin on fourth down that ultimately sealed the game. I don’t care how good or bad Sam Bradford looks…if his receivers aren’t catching passes, they can’t move the ball through the air anyway.
According to an article on ESPN, the seven dropped passes was the most in a single game since 2006. It also notes that five of the drops came on third or fourth down, essentially ending drives. It was especially frustrating considering Bradford was starting to look more accurate that game, putting balls right on the money, even in traffic and under pressure. But to see them go right through the hands of receiver time and time again had to be demoralizing.
Jordan Matthews has received a lot of heat recently for all his dropped passes considering he’s the top receiver on this team. While it definitely wasn’t a good pass, he dropped a pass in the first quarter that bounced into the hands of the Panthers for an interception, a crippling mistake that allowed Carolina to gain early momentum. He also dropped another pass later in the game that appeared to be as catchable as any pass could be. He’s now up to six drops this year, tied for third highest on the team.
However, the problem isn’t just with Matthews, who apparently has been dealing with a hand injury for the last month. As I mentioned before, Austin dropped a key pass that was right in the hands. Zach Ertz dropped a pass that looked like a sure thing. Josh Huff dropped a pass in the end zone that would’ve surely changed the way the rest of the game went. In all, the Eagles have 25 drops in 2015, tied for the most in the league.
So what exactly can be done? It’s common knowledge that Matthews gets up early to practice catching passes. Hand injury or not, something has to improve at some point, right? Unless the injury is worse than it seems. Julian Edelman, who broke his finger two weeks ago in a game, was dropping passes left and right that he normally would’ve caught after he returned to the field. I know Chip Kelly likes to keep player injuries on the down low, but if Matthews’ injury is affecting him this much, then maybe he needs to sit out a week.
Week after week, it’s the Eagles’ offense that has held them back and the defense that has kept them in games. The run game has finally been above average in the last couple games, allowing them to finally move the ball. But if they get down early and are forced to pass for a majority of a game, it’s brutal to see passes falling off receivers’ hands like hot potatoes. The number one thing in a wide receiver’s job description is to catch passes, so they better actually catch the ball.
Bradford appeared slightly less scared on Sunday night too, which is a positive development. But at some point his confidence has to be hindered if he’s doing his part and watching as his drives die because his receivers can’t catch easy passes. It’s one thing if Bradford were throwing erratically and forcing the receivers to make crazy plays to catch the ball, but that’s not usually the case with these drops. The Eagles need to do everything they possibly can to make Bradford more comfortable out there, and continuously dropping passes is killing their offense.
So what’s the solution? A special smoothie that makes the receivers better at catching? Waking up at 4 a.m. to catch passes from the JUGS machine? Wear stickier gloves? No, the solution is pretty simple. Just do your job and catch the football when it’s thrown to you. It’s that simple.
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