Could the Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver problems be solved? Philly’s new head coach, Nick Sirianni could be the answer. It’s no secret that they have had their issues with the wide receiver position. For starters, the front office has done a poor job evaluating talent in the NFL Draft. Why they passed on some of the receivers they did is still mind-boggling to this day. We don’t need to go through the list. You know the names.
Jalen Reagor’s situation was another issue. Part of the problem there was quarterback play, specifically from Carson Wentz, but Jalen Hurts had his issues at the end of the year as well.
Perhaps one of the biggest factors leading to Philly’s struggles in 2020 was the fact that the coaching staff failed to develop players at the position. They struggled to use each receiver to their strengths. We can talk all day about how the front office made the wrong picks. There’s no debating that; however, the coaching staff has to control what they can control. They haven’t done that in recent years. Oftentimes, they aren’t getting their young wideouts on the field at all.
While nothing is set in stone, Alshon Jeffery and DeSean Jackson are likely on their way out. Owner Jeffrey Lurie mentioned that this is a transition period for the team in his press conference that followed the firing of Doug Pederson, and in any transition period or rebuilding season, the focus needs to be on developing the team’s youth.
Let’s talk about the Philadelphia Eagles’ new head coach.
New head coach Nick Sirianni could play a major part in the progression of these young wideouts. He’s been coaching the position (and the quarterback position) for quite some time. His second college coaching stint was as a wide receivers coach at Indiana University of Pennsylvania. He coached wideouts with the Kansas City Chiefs in 2012 and was an offensive coach on their staff from 2009-2012. Dwayne Bowe had some of his best seasons while Sirianni was in Kansas City. That might not have been a coincidence.
After his run in Kansas City, Sirianni made his way to San Diego. In 2014 and 2015, he was their quarterbacks coach. Philip Rivers did well under Sirianni’s guidance during that time, but the wide receivers struggled. In 2015, running back Danny Woodhead led the team in receiving despite posting only 755 yards through the air. Keenan Allen only playing eight games can be factored into that. Still, the overall production at the wide receiver position was underwhelming.
Philadelphia Eagles wide receivers could thrive under Sirianni.
San Diego made Sirianni the wide receivers coach the following season. Tyrell Williams had a career year in 2016 with 69 receptions for 1059 yards. He scored seven touchdowns and reached the first-down marker 48 times.
Dontrelle Inman also had his best NFL season with 58 catches for 810 yards, four touchdowns, and 57 first downs. Travis Benjamin wasn’t far behind with 47 catches for 677 yards, four touchdowns, and 25 first downs over the course of a 14-game span.
Keenan Allen returned to the lineup in 2017 after tearing his ACL one year earlier. What do you know: he had his best NFL season under Sirianni. That seems like a common theme, doesn’t it?
Allen snagged 102 receptions (good for fourth in NFL) while racking up 1,393 yards (good for a third-place finish). He scored six touchdowns and reached the first-down marker 74 times. To this day, it’s still his best NFL season. Tyrell Williams was a good second fiddle to Allen that year with 43 catches, 728 yards, four touchdowns, and 29 first downs.
Sirianni might be able to really turn the ship around in this regard for the Birds. As ITI has mentioned, he likes to get the ball in the hands of his playmakers within five yards of the line of scrimmage. This is what Jalen Reagor does best, and the Philadelphia Eagles didn’t design enough plays to get Reagor into the open field. Instead, they sent him on fly routes a decent amount of the time.
Don’t get it twisted: Reagor needs to work on his outside release and plenty of other things. It just would’ve been nice to see him utilized more in the short game. Sirianni does that with his wideouts. Just look at how the Colts have schemed guys like T.Y Hilton, Zach Pascal, Michael Pittman, and Parris Campbell (when healthy) into space.
Just imagine what he can do with the speed that the Eagles have with Reagor, Quez Watkins, John Hightower, and Marquise Goodwin. If DeVonta Smith falls to the Eagles in the upcoming draft, and they take him, watch out.
We also mentioned how Sirianni likes to attack matchups. J.J. Arcega-Whiteside has plenty of things to clean up, but he also hasn’t been given the opportunity to make a ton of contested catches. We’ve stressed that plenty of times throughout the season.
No one is expecting him to be anything special at this point but maybe we’ll see Sirianni play to his strengths as he did with his players in Indianapolis. If anyone can get the most out of ‘JJAW’ it’s probably Sirianni. If the Philadelphia Eagles somehow are able to snag Ja’Marr Chase in the draft, that’s another ‘X’ receiver to attack matchups with. Not to mention Travis Fulgham, who we saw flash his potential earlier in the 2020 campaign. This could be fun!