Good morning, everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving. These are unusual and challenging times. But I hope you’ll be able to find a few things to be thankful for today, even if one of them isn’t the success of your football team.
The Eagles are 3-6-1 with a good chance of falling to 3-7-1 Monday night when they host the 7-3 Seattle Seahawks at the Linc. The Seahawks aren’t exactly coming to Philly with a lot of momentum. They’ve lost three of their last five games. Nevertheless, the Las Vegas oddsmakers still have them as 5½-point favorites over Doug Pederson’s turnover-plagued team.
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Young Eagles receiver hits a dry patch after early success
Travis Fulgham’s NFL honeymoon is over. After catching 29 passes for 435 yards and four touchdowns in his first five games with the Eagles, opposing defenses are paying a little more attention to the 25-year-old wide receiver from Old Dominion.
Fulgham was targeted 12 times by Carson Wentz the last two weeks in losses to the Giants and Browns. He had just two catches for 16 yards in those two games.
Eight weeks ago, most people didn’t even know who Fulgham was. His early-October promotion from the practice squad to the active roster got less attention than a one-cent drop in the price of rutabaga at Shop-Rite.
Now, every one wants to know why he’s been so quiet the last two games. Now, every one wants to know whether the real Travis Fulgham is the guy they watched in October or the guy they watched the last two weeks or someone in between.
“I attribute it to just the way that defenses are scheming him,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Wednesday. The last two games, “We have seen a top defender go to his side of the field or at least guard him. It’s something that he has to, as a young player, he has to understand. … If he wants to be an elite receiver in this game, he’s going to know that’s always going to be the case every week. And he really has to focus in and detail his work and practice hard and fast, and just prepare himself for that.
“That’s how you see some of the great players in this league, particularly at the receiver position, handle that. Just knowing that they’re going to gain the respect around the league [with] the more opportunities [they get], and the better they become.”
Drafted in the sixth round of the 2019 draft by Detroit, Fulgham was cut by the Lions, Packers, and Eagles before being signed to the Eagles’ practice squad.
Injuries to Jalen Reagor, DeSean Jackson and JJ Arcega-Whiteside left the Eagles shorthanded at wide receiver. So Fulgham was activated for the Eagles’ Week 4 game against the 49ers.
Fulgham had two catches in the game, including an impressive 42-yard touchdown catch in the Eagles’ five-point win.
A week later against the Steelers, Wentz targeted him 13 times, and he had 10 catches for 152 yards and another touchdown. He had touchdown grabs in each of his first three games. And his 435 receiving yards in his first five games was the most in the NFL during that period.
You knew he couldn’t keep putting up those kinds of numbers every week.
“I have a lot of trust in Travis,” Wentz said Wednesday. “I don’t think he needs to necessarily change how he plays. I think he just needs to continue to grow with this offense and build his route tree and all of those things.
“He obviously came onto the scene pretty quick, caught a lot of people by surprise. And he’s been a pleasant surprise for me and for this offense. Last game [against Cleveland], the [wet] conditions and everything were maybe challenging for him. but it is what it is.
“I think he’s a dynamic player that’s going to keep getting better. He’s still young, and within this offense he’s going to keep learning and developing into, I believe, a really good player.”
What you need to know about the Eagles
Marcus Hayes is wondering what Jeffrey Lurie is thinking right now after watching the way his coach, Doug Pederson, fumbled a question about Carson Wentz Wednesday.
Les Bowen examines what might’ve been behind Pederson’s weird response to a question about whether Wentz would be the Eagles’ starting QB Monday night against Seattle?
David Murphy thinks benching Wentz and replacing him with rookie Jalen Hurts might be the only thing that can save Pederson’s job.
From the mailbag
“What was the Eagles’ scouting report on Cooper Kupp (in 2017)? And if he had such a good Senior Bowl week, how did they miss out on him?” — John Quinn (@johnquinn83) on Twitter
Thanks for the question, John. Hope you’re doing well. I’m not sure it was a question of the Eagles missing out on Cooper Kupp, per se. Like most teams, they liked him. But they already had a young, productive slot receiver in Jordan Matthews, who had averaged 75 catches and nearly 900 receiving yards a year in his first three seasons.
They also had drafted Nelson Agholor in the first round in 2015 and still believed the light was eventually going to go on for him, which it did. He had a breakout year in 2017 and helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl, and had another productive season in 2018.
As far as the ’17 draft, they took cornerback Sidney Jones in the second round with the 43rd overall pick. Yeah, they blew that one. But even if they had needed a slot receiver as much as they needed cornerback help that year, No. 43 would’ve been considered a bit of a reach for an FCS wideout who ran a 4.58 forty. In retrospect, knowing what we know now about the next six guys the Eagles took in that draft, they probably should’ve traded any or all of them and moved up and taken Kupp.
Figuring the Eagles
The Eagles have averaged 5.7 yards per carry with 11-personnel this season and 4.3 with 12-personnel. They have averaged just 2.3 yards per carry with every other personnel grouping.