The Philadelphia Eagles had a slew of top shelf performances in their 43-35 win over the Los Angeles Rams in Week 14. The most damaging one to their future depth at tight end was the show put on by TE Trey Burton. It’s conflicting watching a player you would love to retain play well above expectation in a big game, but that’s what Burton did, and now the clock on his time as an Eagle has begun to spill through the hourglass.
Maybe that’s a bit dramatic. Burton was going to have suitors once his one-year $2.7 million dollar contract expired at the end of the year. The hope was that the cash strapped Eagles would have a chance to be competitive in offering him enough to stay. With fellow TE Zach Ertz out with a concussion against the Rams, Burton dashed those hopes by turning in a 5 reception, 71 yard, 2 touchdown day. The cat is most definitely out of the bag and Burton’s likely asking price has gone up.
Instead of lamenting his clouded future with the Eagles, let’s celebrate his breakout day. To do that, I turned on the film to highlight why this wasn’t just a flash in the pan for Burton, rather a showing off of a skill-set that is worth solid money in free agency.
-1st Quarter (5:02), 2nd & 10, LAR 38, 7-7 Tie-
I show this play, despite it not being a reception, to highlight a theme I found throughout this game. First, Burton does well do aggressively attack the leverage of the linebacker assigned to the flat zone, stretching him wide before clubbing with an inside move before gearing down and settling in a void. He showed a knack throughout this game for understanding leverage and coverage, allowing him to expand and put stress on zones before showing his numbers in the soft spot.
-1st Quarter (3:01), 3rd & 10, LAR 20, 7-7 Tie-
Working from the left slot, Burton, who weighs in as a big wide receiver (6’3″ 235lb), shows suddenness off the line of scrimmage with a quick jab step to the outside that displaces Rams rookie SAF (#43) John Johnson.
Burton is able to maintain separation throughout the route as he works over the LB (#52) Alec Ogletree before showing off his play strength and concentration on a contested catch.
QB Carson Wentz puts this in the right spot, recognizing Ogletree is turned, throwing to the inside doesn’t allow him to turn and make a play on the ball.
-2nd Quarter (13:16), 3rd & 10, LAR 40, 14-7 PHI-
The Eagles go bunch to the boundary side here, leaving Burton, who is detached from the line on a nasty split, plenty of room to work. He attacks the outside leverage of the off coverage, getting CB (#22) Trumaine Johnson off the spot just enough to create room for a throw on a curl.
You could criticize Burton for coming up one yard short of the sticks here, but with Wentz reading left-to-right and finding Burton somewhat late, you could also give him the benefit of the doubt. Regardless, a Wentz pass on a slant-flat concept to WR Nelson Agholor would convert the 4th and 1 on the next play.
-2nd Quarter (11:18), 3rd & 8, LAR 11, 14-7 PHI-
Burton’s subtlety in his route running is on display again in on this touchdown reception. It’s barely noticeable, but his slight bend at the top of his route stem towards the inside, combined with smooth, compact steps to maintain fluidity throughout the cut is just enough to allow him to box out the safety and give him a higher percentage chance at this jump ball.
Once again Burton shows off his play strength, concentration, and hands in a contested situation for his second touchdown of the day.
-2nd Quarter (1:08), 1st & 10, LAR 24, 21-14 PHI-
Here we return the point made in the first video, which is about Burton’s ability to play off the leverage of the defender and find soft spots in the coverage. With defenders on either side of him and capped by a safety, Burton is able to get enough depth to turn LB (#26) Mark Barron, escort him past with a veteran push, and sink into the void. Understanding where the defenders are around him, he then makes a solid turn after the catch to maximize yards after the catch.
-4th Quarter (12:06), 2nd & 10, PHI 49, 31-35 Rams-
Forget all the technical jargon for a moment, this is a smooth, athletic route followed by a tough as nails catch in the face of sure contact that leaves the hitter the worse for wear. Showing the ability to consistently make catches like these, despite having a sleeker frame for a tight end, will check a few boxes under concentration, competitive toughness and play strength.
Overall, I was genuinely impressed by Burton’s performance and even a little surprised. I did not expect the level of nuance I observed from the former undrafted free agent nor did I expect his ability to win consistently at the catch-point.
I would have included clips of his run blocking, but don’t let the lack of sizzle in that aspect of his game fool you into thinking he’s not capable. Burton consistently fought and stalemated linebackers at the point of attack and did his job in the run game.
Burton has earned his role and more snaps as a weapon in this Eagles offense and unfortunately for Eagles fans, just put out a bunch of tape that shows he has earned a handsome payday when he hits the open market.
Matchups to watch in Cleveland
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
A look at the key matchups for Sunday’s matchup with the Cleveland Browns.
How will the Eagles defend the Nick Chubb-Kareem Hunt backfield?
Is this the game Doug Pederson and Carson Wentz finally get things right?
Wentz Wednesday: Week 11
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Carson Wentz went from looking like Jameis Winston all year to Sam Bradford on Sunday
Evaluating the inconsistencies in Wentz’s throwing mechanics that were apparent against New York
Wentz deserves blame without always steering the attention to Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman
Doug and Howie on the hot seat?
On today’s Locked On Eagles:
Even in a first place position…..it is time to think big picture with the Eagles
Are Doug Pederson and Howie Roseman safe beyond 2020?
Should Jeffery Lurie continue to be patient or is a shake-up needed?