The target distribution between the three core weapons on the Eagles offense has been a major talking point this season.
With a +42 target spike and record-breaking season for Zach Ertz (broke the all-time receptions record in a season for a tight end), whether one believes there has been an overdependence on Ertz or not, the fact of the matter is Ertz has blown away other weapons in targets.
Two players that have been able to make the most of a smaller workload are the other focal points of the passing game in Alshon Jeffery and Nelson Agholor.
Although both receivers struggled to get the ball in the middle of the season when Wentz was playing through a stress fracture in his back, both Agholor and Jeffery are on pace to either match or surpass their 2017 numbers.
With one game remaining in the season, Agholor has just 3 fewer receptions than last year at 59 and 72 fewer yards at 696.
He has built off a strong 2017 becoming an even better deep threat with seven 35+ yard receptions.
The difference is in touchdowns.
The former first-round pick has just two touchdowns on the season compared to eight last year.
A reduced role in the red zone is part of the explanation. Agholor had five touchdowns last year in enemy territory.
It has also been rather fluky that Agholor hasn’t found the end zone more.
The two touchdowns on the year could be at four to six if Agholor got just a few yards closer in both bombs against the Cowboys, or found a way to shake the Giants in the big reception on Thursday Night Football.
The receptions number is almost the same as last year but it could be much higher. Doug Pederson admitted the team needed to do a better job of getting Agholor involved more consistently this year.
While Wentz’s health was a major factor, there were a lot of opportunities for big plays where Wentz simply didn’t look Nelson’s way.
As for Alshon Jeffery, his 60 receptions are three more than the 2017 total of 57. That is pretty impressive considering Jeffery’s targets have gone down by 33 this year.
He has just five fewer yards at 784 and four fewer touchdowns with five on the season.
Missing the first two games is part of the reduced targets but Jeffery struggled to get the ball down the field in the middle of the season.
From Week 8 to 13, Jeffery didn’t surpass 50 yards or five receptions. He was only used for short to intermediate throws over the middle.
We weren’t seeing Wentz give Jeffery the chance at one on one balls in coverage that we saw early in the year and now in the past two games with Nick Foles.
The encouraging part of this for Agholor and Jeffery is that they have looked just as good in 2018 as they did in 2017 and they should have even better numbers.
Both were key in saving the Eagles season against Houston with Agholor’s touchdown and Jeffery converting the 3rd and 10 on the final drive to help get Philadelphia in field goal range.
The Eagles will have roughly 40 more passing attempts this year from last year but Jeffery and Agholor haven’t seen that result in a target increase.
Hopefully next year with a healthy Carson Wentz, the 65 more targets Ertz has over Jeffery and 61 more targets than Agholor can change into a more 2017-like balance. In 2017 Jeffery had 120 targets, Ertz had 110, and Agholor had 95.
This isn’t a knock on Ertz but more praise of Jeffery and Agholor because these two receivers have continued to perform when they get the ball.
Impact of paying a QB
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Does paying a QB big money hold a team back from contention?
What does history tell us?
Is the concern about paying any player this amount of money or is it about Wentz himself?
Ranking the roster
On today’s Locked on Eagles:
Are the Eagles and Carson Wentz about to get a deal done?
Is Joe Douglas the next Jets GM?
Ranking the Eagles positions from strongest to weakest
On today’s Locked on Eagles podcast:
Where do the starting quarterbacks in the NFL belong based on tiers?
Where is Carson Wentz among the other 31 starters?
How many “elite” QBs are there?