Friday, November 28, 2008

Brown Out

Seven players caught passes in the Eagles’ 48-20 rout of Arizona Thursday, led by star rookie DeSean Jackson’s six catches for 76 yards and a touchdown.

Noticeably absent from that group: former “future star” receiver Reggie Brown. A hamstring injury at the start of the season caused him to miss games, as did a groin injury midway through, which have contributed to his worst pro season, a benching, and a future in serious jeopardy.

To borrow the UPS slogan, what can Brown do for the Eagles?

The fact is, Brown always showed more “potential” than production. In six full college and pro seasons (three each), Brown has topped 816 receiving yards just once—his senior year at Georgia when he had 860.

This season will make it seven years below 817, since he has just 13 catches for 192 yards and one touchdown—and what appears to be a permanent place on the bench.

DeSean Jackson has clearly passed Brown on the depth chart—and in the attention he draws from opponents. Who scares opponents more: Jackson or Brown?

The real question is, what to do with Brown now?

He’s clearly not going to replace Jackson or Kevin Curtis. Brown has had more than one catch in a game just twice all season (6 against Chicago, 4 against Washington). Hank Baskett (28-for-409 yards, three TDs) and Jason Avant (24-251-2) are plenty productive enough to serve as backups to Curtis and Jackson.

That five-year contract extension the Eagles gave Brown in 2006 doesn’t look like such a hot move now, unless the Eagles can trade him in the offseason. But what can they expect for a receiver unlikely to see much action the rest of the way?

For now, Brown seems destined to join the ever-growing collection of unproductive wide receivers taken by coach Andy Reid during his 10 seasons.

Reid has drafted 11 receivers; Jackson is the first to make a major impact. (Sorry, but one 4th-and-26 catch does not make former first-rounder Freddie Mitchell impactful).

For a West Coast offense reliant on productive receivers, Reid has come up empty in the draft. His picks: Jackson, Jason Avant, Jeremy Bloom, Brown, Billy McMullen, Freddie Milons, Freddie Mitchell, Todd Pinkston, Gari Scott, Na Brown, and Troy Smith.

If the Eagles feel they’ve resolved their offensive woes, then Thursday’s game presents a new low for Brown. The offense looked great—and he was a non-factor.

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