How many targets will each Eagles receiver have in regular season?

·5 min read

How many targets will each Eagles receiver have this year? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia

The Eagles have their deepest array of skill players in a long time, and it’s going to be fascinating to see how playing time, targets and catches are distributed as the season evolves.

There’s only one ball, but there are four very good wide receivers, an elite tight end and three backs who can catch. Not to mention the usual X factors who’ll wind up playing for one reason or another.

With opening day just two weeks away, I figured I’d take a stab at predicting how many targets each Eagles skill guy will get this year., and the first task was to predict how many times the Eagles will throw the ball.

Last year, the Eagles were last in the NFL with 494 pass attempts, nearly 100 below the NFL average of 585 (and 237 fewer than the Bucs, who led the NFL with 731 attempts).

We all know the Eagles will throw more — and significantly more — than last year. But how much more?

Considering the upgraded receiver talent and Jalen Hurts’ anticipated growth in the offense, I would think somewhere around five or six more pass attempts per game is realistic. Let’s say 5½ more passes per game. That gets the Eagles to 588 pass attempts, which would be a 16 percent increase and land the Eagles right around the NFL average.

That’s an average of 34½ passes per game instead of 29. Right around the NFL average. That seems about right.

So we’ll work with 588 targets as our starting point. Not all these guys will wind up playing 17 games, but our projections are based on everyone staying healthy.

Let’s see what we come up with.

A.J. Brown

Brown averaged 7.8 targets with the Titans the last two years, and that could go one of two ways. Ryan Tannehill didn’t really have anyone else to throw to — nobody else on the Titans had half as many targets since 2020 — and the Eagles will definitely be more balanced. But seeing Brown practice every day and the connection he has with Hurts? I’m bumping him up to 8.3 per game. 141 targets.

DeVonta Smith

Smith led the Eagles with 104 targets last year, or 6.1 per game. Although Quez Watkins had his moments, Smith was the Eagles’ only WR who was consistent all year so it wasn’t like Hurts had a bunch of options. Smith is having a terrific training camp and has clearly taken his game to another level, and I think that figure will increase … but not by a ton. Let’s say 6½ targets per game. 111 targets.

Dallas Goedert

It’s amazing that Goedert only had 80 targets in 15 games last year. He ranked 17th among tight ends in targets last year but 5th in yards. That’s impressive. I think Goedert makes a jump in targets. Let’s say nearly one more per game — from 5.3 to 6.1. If he does, he’s going over 1,000 yards and to his first Pro Bowl. 103 targets.

Kenny Gainwell

Gainwell has had his own issues with drops this summer, but I have faith in him to sort that out and be the Eagles’ top receiving back this fall. He actually had three games with seven or more targets last year and finished with 3.1 per game, although in some of those games he barely played on offense. I think Gainwell is potentially a big-time weapon on third down. I’m going to jump that 3.1 to 4.0 per game. 68 targets.

Quez Watkins

Quez was targeted 62 times last year, which is just over 3½ per game. He’s such a weapon and will draw some really favorable matchups, but I don’t see that figure going up just because there are only so many footballs to go around. I’m going with 3½ per game. 60 targets.

Zach Pascal

Now it gets tricky. Pascal has been outstanding this summer, and he’s a guy who averaged 70 targets per game the last three years in Indy, two of those years under Nick Sirianni. If everyone else stays healthy, I just don’t see him being close to that figure, as solid as he’s looked in camp. Let’s say just about 2½ targets per game. 40 targets.

Miles Sanders

As his drops have increased, his targets have dropped — from 63 to 52 to just 34 last year, and honestly I don’t see that rebounding. In fact, I’m going to drop him to 1½ per game. 25 targets.

Jack Stoll

An interesting one. Stoll played more than 30 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last year as an undrafted rookie tight end but was only targeted five times all year (catching four). He’s shown growth as a receiver this year and as TE2 he’s bound to get some targets. But it won’t be many. Let’s say 1¼ per game. 21 targets.

Boston Scott

Mainly because of Gainwell’s emergence, Scott was only targeted 13 times all last year after getting 62 targets the two previous years. I like Scott as a receiver, but I’m not sure where he fits into the receiving game if Sanders and Gainwell are healthy. 11 targets.

Grant Calcaterra

Rookie tight end catches the ball well, but hard to say what his role will be — if any. He’ll probably wind up playing a bit at some point, so let’s give him a handful. 8 targets.

Jalen Reagor

I still have my doubts he’ll be here. If he is, I just don’t see him having a role on offense. Why would he? 0 targets.

Noah Togiai

Togiai, like Stoll, has made big strides as a receiver but I anticipate him heading back to the practice squad. 0 targets.

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