Eagles 10 Observations: Is there still hope for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside?

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Roob's Observations: Is there hope for Arcega-Whiteside? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

Why I haven’t given up on J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, why I wouldn’t be shocked if the Eagles trade Andre Dillard and the Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week!

As we close in on the start of Eagles training camp later this month, here’s our latest Roob’s 10 Random Offseason Eagles Observations! (We’ll lose the “offseason” soon!)

1. Did you ever build something, and when you were done it didn’t work? And you were sure you did everything right? You put everything in the right place? And it SHOULD have worked but it just didn’t? That’s what J.J. Arcega-Whiteside reminds me of. He ran 4.49 at Stanford’s pro day, which is fast enough. He had excellent college production in a good conference – over 1,000 yards, 14 TDs and 16.8 yards per catch as a senior and led the nation in contested catches. He’s got the size at a solid 6-2, 225 pounds. He’s got all the individual elements that make for a productive NFL WR. But he isn’t one. I may be in the minority on this, but I still think JJAW can be a functional NFL wide receiver. Because I don’t see a reason he shouldn’t be. The only thing I can come up with is confidence. He seemed to lose it as a rookie and never really got it back last year, when he was ineffective, benched, sidelined with COVID, you name it. There was a reason he was a 2nd-round pick in 2019, and with a new coach with a WR background, a new offense and a new start, maybe we’ll finally see the JJAW the Eagles thought they were getting in 2019. The first thing he has to do is make the team, which won’t be easy behind DeVonta Smith, Jalen Reagor and Greg Ward, almost certainly Travis Fulgham and most likely Quez Watkins. Maybe it comes down to JJAW vs. John Hightower for a sixth spot. Maybe he’ll need to go somewhere else to blossom. But I can’t help thinking there’s something there.

2. Hard to believe this will be the Eagles’ 19th  season at the Linc. Their 19th season at the Vet was 1989, and they already needed a new stadium.

3. I’ve always been amazed how much Charlie Garner improved as a receiver once he got out of Philly. Charlie was always a good runner, but he only caught 75 passes in five years with the Eagles – 15 per year – and was rarely targeted. But in his first five years after leaving the Eagles, he averaged 67 catches per year with the 49ers and Raiders. He had the 3rd-most catches by any NFL running back during that five-year span with 335, trailing only Marshall Faulk (376) and Tiki Barber (346). Despite rarely catching the ball in his five years in Philly, Garner is among 19 players in NFL history to rush for 7,000 yards and catch 400 passes. And his 4.6 rushing average is 2nd-highest of that group, behind only Barber (and just ahead of LeSean McCoy). Really good player. A shame we never saw the complete player he became later in his career.

4. Since 1940, four quarterbacks have started at least four games for the Eagles both as rookies and in their second season: Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb, Nick Foles and Carson Wentz. Interesting to note their improvement from Year 1 to Year 2.

Cunningham 

Year 1: 42.0 accuracy, 29.8 rating, 1-3 record

Year 2: 53.1 accuracy, 72.9 rating, 1-3-1 record

McNabb

Year 1: 49.1 accuracy, 60.1 rating, 2-4 record

Year 2: 58.0 accuracy, 77.8 rating, 11-5 record

Foles 

Year 1: 60.8 accuracy, 79.1 rating, 1-5 record

Year 2: 64.0 accuracy, 119.2 rating, 8-2 record

Wentz

Year 1: 62.4 accuracy, 79.3 rating, 7-9

Year 2: 60.2 accuracy, 101.9 rating, 11-2

5. I have a feeling Andre Dillard will either win the left tackle job or won’t be here. If Dillard plays well this summer – but not well enough to beat out Jordan Mailata – I'd expect him to have some value on the trade market. And I just don’t see the value of having a backup offensive lineman who can only play one position. If the Eagles feel like Jack Driscoll can give an honest effort at left tackle, why keep Dillard? Driscoll can play guard and tackle and that versatility is what you want in a backup. Bad look trading a 25-year-old 1st-round pick from just two years ago, but if you’re really trying to put together the best 53-man roster, I’m not sure it makes sense to keep him.

6. Boston Scott played 218 fewer snaps than Miles Sanders last year but had more receiving yards. That’s kind of weird. It’s crucial that Sanders regains his receiving form this year.

7. It was good to see Lane Johnson and Fletcher Cox, two of the Eagles’ unquestioned veteran leaders, respond immediately and shoot down the NFL Network report claiming anonymous Eagles players are questioning whether Nick Sirianni “can truly lead this team.” That’s leadership. And coming from Lane and Fletch it carries a lot of weight. We heard the same kind of stuff when an unknown Reid was hired in 1999 and when Doug Pederson was hired in 2016. They both did OK. With 90 guys on NFL rosters, I’m sure there are a few guys in every NFL camp who wonder about their coach. One indisputable truth about NFL players is that they want to get paid. And the way they get paid is by making the team. And the way they do that is giving everything they have in camp. So if there really are guys who aren’t buying in, they won’t be here long.

8. Would anybody be surprised if Cox, Brandon Graham, Josh Sweat, Derek Barnett and Ryan Kerrigan each have at least 5.0 sacks this year? It’s been 26 years since five Eagles had five sacks in a season: In 1995, it was William Fuller (13), Andy Harmon (11), Kevin Johnson (6), Mike Mamula (5 ½) and Danny Stubbs (5 ½).

9. Jalen Hurts Stat of the Week: Hurts’ 81-yard touchdown pass to DeSean Jackson is the longest TD pass in NFL history from a quarterback 22 or younger to a receiver 34 or older. The previous long was a 27-yarder from 21-year-old Josh Rosen to 35-year-old Larry Fitzgerald for the Cards against the Chargers in 2018. Hurts and D-Jack beat that by 54 yards.

10. Orlando Scandrick is the only defensive back in Eagles history with two sacks forcing fumbles in the same game.

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