OVER the last two games, most Eagles fans have fallen heels-over-head for WR Travis Fulgham. Some love that he’s scored in each of the last two games. Some love that he makes big splash catches.
I love that he’s nothing special.
Seriously, there is nothing about his game that is remotely remarkable. He’s not super-fast. He doesn’t jump super-high. He doesn’t kill defenders with his first step off the line. So if he doesn’t have any amazing traits, why is he so much better than all the other young receivers we’ve drafted since Jeremy Maclin?
The thing that separates Fulgham from Eagles draft picks, is that he has a solid set of fundamentals. He comes back to the ball. He boxes out. He high-points and catches with his hands. Again, nothing special. Just the fundamentals that any receiver should have. I said should.
During Week One, QB Carson Wentz threw two interceptions. One was while trying to connect with rookie WR Jalen Reagor, and the other was an attempt to rookie WR John Hightower. Both were jumping and fading away from the ball, allowing the defender to uncut them. Remember the one to WR J.J. Arcega-Whiteside vs the Rams? Look up those three picks. I’ll wait…
(Whistling. Filing nails. Painting a still-life.)
Oh, you’re back! Did you notice what I was talking about? It jumps right out at you, doesn’t it? From now on, you will NEVER fail to notice it, and wonder how others miss it.
Although WR Alshon Jeffery has crazy leaping skills, his speed isn’t lethal, he’s not the biggest receiver, and he doesn’t have legendary hands. In fact, how would you describe Alshon’s game? Comes back to the ball. Boxes out. High-points. Makes yards after the catch. None of those things are talent based. Those are all skills. They are fundamentals which only come from teaching.
The obvious thing that fans keep missing, is that young Eagles receivers aren’t taught those basics. Fulgham learned it before he got here. Alshon, same thing. Terrell Owens? Kevin Curtis? These guys looked great next to receivers drafted, but untaught by our coaching staffs.
Speaking of which, how DOES former Eagles WR Nelson Agholor, look in Las Vegas this year? He’s only caught 10 balls, but he’s only been thrown 11 passes. That’s a 90% catch rate. Through 5 years with the Eagles, Agholor NEVER had a 90% catch rate through 5 weeks. Not in 2015 (47%), not 2016 (66%), not 2017 (69%), not 2018 (70%), nor 2019 (59%). NEVER.
Crazy what a little coaching can fix.
Some readers may say that I’ve failed to mention Fulgham’s ability to create separation with stems, speed variations in his routes, head fakes, stacking the defender, etc. Those are all skills. Those are all taught things. Every blessed one of them. Just basic fundamentals.
I love that Fulgham’s game is based on fundamentals. It means that if the Eagles decide to sign him long-term, his ability to play won’t disappear with injury, or suddenly with age. When Alshon gets back I look forward to seeing packages that feature them both on the field.
Now if only we can utilize some of that speed we added this year…