Have Eagles really solved their speed issue?

Eliot Shorr-Parks
May 24, 2020 - 10:26 am

There has been a clear theme during this Eagles’ offseason — speed, speed, speed. 

They have prioritized it on both sides of the ball, but that plan was especially obvious during the draft when the Eagles drafted three wide receivers and traded for a fourth. After the draft, general manager Howie Roseman clearly believed his team had accomplished their goal of becoming a much faster offense. 

The team’s clear effort to focus on speed is admirable, considering it requires them to admit their mistakes from last season. The good news is by acquiring so many options, they have increased their chances of one-or-two hitting and helping the team next season. 

Despite all of the swings they took, however, it is fair to question if this offense will actually be much quicker than it was last season, as there is no getting around the fact that every single “speed” option — DeSean Jackson, Jalen Reagor, John Hightower, Quez Watkins and Marquise Goodwin —comes with a fairly significant question mark.

Let’s start at the top with Jackson. There is absolutely no question that Jackson is the best receiver on the roster. He showed in Week 1 last season how explosive he can still be. The issue is that was the only time he was able to flash that big-play ability due to what was essentially a season-ending abdominal injury. 

Jackson has been working hard since his surgery, and the Eagles seem to be very confident he will have a bounce-back season. Jackson has gone from 15 games in 2016, to 14 in 2017, to 12 in 2018 and finally down to just three in 2019. Counting on Jackson to play even double-digit games, and be the player he was prior to the injury at 33-years old, is at best very risky, and at worse it is foolish. 

The scary part is that Jackson is probably the Eagles’ best chance at having a legit deep threat. 

Their next best chance might be Reagor, the team’s first-round pick and one of the more explosive playmakers in the draft at receiver. The Eagles badly need Reagor to be a contributing player next season. Their decision to ignore the position in free agency, plus being a first-round pick, put that pressure on Reagor. Reagor has a high ceiling but almost no draft analyst had him as one of the more pro-ready receivers in the draft considering the limited route tree he ran at TCU. 

No OTAs, minicamps and perhaps an abbreviated training camp will make Reagor’s adjustment to the NFL a tougher one than normal, and leave him fighting an uphill battle to contribute next season. 

The same can be said for the team’s late round picks, Hightower and Watkins. Counting on any late-round pick to be a contributing player their rookie season is asking a lot. Expecting Hightower and Watkins to come in and play a role in making the Eagles’ offense faster is extremely wishful thinking.

The uncertainty around the rookies is what makes the team’s acquisition of Goodwin so puzzling. 

While they basically got Goodwin for free, it isn’t reassuring that the team’s only veteran receiver added to the roster this offseason a 29-year old who has played 16-games just once in his career and missed 10 games last season with knee issues. For a team that needed immediate help at the position, the only veteran being added to the roster having health concerns is not ideal. 

Which brings us to the real issue with the five receivers the Eagles are counting on to make their offense faster. One of them was on the roster last season and shouldn’t be viewed as a new addition to the offense. Three are rookies. The last one was given away by a team who is competing for Super Bowl next season. 

The ceiling might be high with the five receivers, but the floor is very low, and there is no safety net on the roster right now. 

Considering how obvious the team’s need for speed on offense was, it is hard to get behind a plan that doesn’t include one sure thing.

You can reach Eliot Shorr-Parks on Twitter at @EliotShorrParks or email him at esp@94wip.com!