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Eagles’ Mack Hollins can’t seem to catch on as a weapon in the passing game

Among the team's many problems is a starting receiver who hasn't caught a pass in three games.

Wide receivers Mack Hollins (left) and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside catch tennis balls during warms-up before the Eagles' 37-10 loss to Dallas on Sunday.
Wide receivers Mack Hollins (left) and J.J. Arcega-Whiteside catch tennis balls during warms-up before the Eagles' 37-10 loss to Dallas on Sunday.Read moreYONG KIM / Staff Photographer

Mack Hollins caught five passes in a game once. It was this season, in fact, Week 2 at Atlanta, five catches, eight targets, 50 yards.

Hollins has caught five passes since then, total. One in the last four games, none in the last three, despite playing more than half the Eagles’ offensive snaps. He played 30 snaps at Dallas, and was targeted once.

Does this bother Hollins, who has worked back from a pair of groin surgeries that cost him the 2018 season?

“Not really. I think what bothers me most is we haven’t won games that we should be winning, or been in games that we should have been in,” Hollins said Tuesday. “That bothers me significantly more than catching balls. If I get no catches in a win, I’m going to be as excited as I can be.”

Nobody around the Eagles seems to be able to adequately explain why Hollins gets so many snaps and so few chances to catch passes, on a team that is having a wide receiver production crisis. In the blowout loss at Dallas, Eagles wideouts caught four Carson Wentz passes, total.

“Sometimes the ball just doesn’t come your way … When the ball comes my way, I’ll make a play on it. If it’s not coming, I’m not going to tell Carson that I need the ball,” said Hollins, who added that “I run every route as if I’m the primary read.”

Offensive coordinator Mike Groh said again Tuesday that Hollins is doing what the Eagles ask him to do, which brings up the question of whether they ought to ask him to do more stuff, because what he’s doing now isn’t producing anything but some run-game blocking.

“The ball hasn’t found him,” Groh said, faulting a piece of inflated leather, instead of Hollins or Wentz. “I actually thought in this past game, from a passing-game perspective, you look at the routes that he ran and put on tape, he was improved week-over-week from the week before. I think he’s put a lot into practice and trying to refine his technique, and he’s done a good job.”

Hollins said he feels the Eagles have the weapons to “be putting up 30 or 40 points a game, and we’re not doing that.”

Hollins was drafted in 2017’s fourth round, and made his reputation during the Super Bowl season as a special teams standout. Earlier this season he said he would choose special teams over offense, if he had to pick one. Now he doesn’t play on special teams, because he is an offensive starter. Does this bother him?

“A little. Obviously, special teams is big for me,” Hollins said. “But I’m never going to be the guy to question coach … If I could sneak my way back on there, I’d love to.”

Whatever happened to Zach Ertz?

Tight end Zach Ertz, the Eagles’ leading receiver, with 35 catches for 404 yards, wasn’t targeted in the first half of the Dallas loss and didn’t catch a pass until the fourth quarter. The Eagles have been plagued by awful starts, and Ertz has gone three games in a row without a first-quarter target.

“Yeah, he was either one or two in the progression on I don't know how many -- certainly our first seven passes,” Mike Groh said Wednesday. “Like we've talked about, sometimes the ball goes there and sometimes it doesn't. It's for a variety of reasons in each case, but it's not for lack of trying.

“We all know that he’s an important part of what we do. He’s one of the reasons why we win, and we’re going to continue to try to design plays to get him the ball.”