Doug Pederson said last week that opposing defenses were trying to take Travis Fulgham away.
During the Eagles’ 23-17 loss to the Seahawks, the Eagles coach did the job for them.
Fulgham had a remarkably improbable five-game stretch from Week 4 to Week 8 in which he led the NFL in receiving yards and emerged as the team’s top perimeter target after being promoted from the practice squad.
In the last three games, he’s caught four passes for 32 yards, and during the Eagles’ Monday night loss, he was only on the field for 50% of the team’s passing plays, according to Next Gen Stats. Fulgham’s sharp decline in production is partly due to his loss of playing time, which can be tied in part to the return of veteran receiver Alshon Jeffery.
Fulgham was on the field for 26 of the team’s 52 passing plays, the same number as Jeffery, who came off of injured reserve in Week 10. In those snaps, Jeffery was targeted four times and had two catches for 15 yards. Fulgham had two targets, two catches and 16 yards, marking his third straight game in which he’s had less than 20 receiving yards.
So why does the team insist on giving Jeffery, a 30-year-old receiver coming off a Lisfranc foot injury and seemingly regressing, playing time over a promising young wideout like Fulgham?
Pederson said he has to be able to get snaps for both players.
“I think Travis is still a part of the offense and he knows he’s gotta continue to work hard each week and play well,” Pederson said. “Alshon is improving and getting healthier. We gotta be able to use both of those guys, they’re big targets for Carson, we gotta continue to work.”
The total snap count was not available as of Monday night, but Jeffery’s role in the offense was clearly bigger than it had been in the previous two games. In his first game back against the Giants, he played 27% of the team’s offensive snaps. The following week against the Cleveland Browns, he played just 7%, but against Seattle he was on the field for a significantly higher percentage of snaps.
On the Eagles’ opening drive, Jeffery, who missed the first eight games after having the worst year of his career in 2019, dropped a pass from Wentz on a third-and-5 to force an Eagles punt.
Last Wednesday, Pederson said Fulgham was starting to see more defensive attention and would have to overcome teams trying to take him away to sustain his success, saying they “have seen a top defender go to his side of the field or at least guard him”
After the game, Eagles’ quarterback Carson Wentz said the Seahawks didn’t do anything to scheme Fulgham out of the Eagles’ offense, he’s just a part of a rotation now.
“We’re just rotating bodies a little bit more,” Wentz said. “Obviously, Alshon is a bigger part of what we do. People are maybe a little aware after those couple weeks, but he’s still the same player and we’re still going to have him be a big part of this offense, and him and I will connect more going forward.”