Friday, February 12, 2016

Eagles receivers: '04 vs. '09

Moving the Chains: How did the performance of Eagles receivers and tight ends last season compare to the 2004 season when the Birds went to the Super Bowl?

Eagles receivers: '04 vs. '09

Terrell Owens caught 14 touchdown passes for the Eagles in 2004. (Jerry Lodigruss / Staff Photographer)
Terrell Owens caught 14 touchdown passes for the Eagles in 2004. (Jerry Lodigruss / Staff Photographer)

The argument can be made pretty easily that the current group of Eagles receivers/tight ends is the strongest of the Andy Reid era.

The only other group that even enters the discussion is the 2004-05 Terrell Owens team that reached the Super Bowl.

Here are a few charts comparing the receivers and tight ends during the two seasons:

  Receptions Yards TDs YPC
Terrell Owens 77 1,200 14 15.6
DeSean Jackson 63 1,167 9 18.5

It's worth noting that T.O. played in 14 regular-season games, and Jackson played in 15. Obviously, they are two completely different receivers, but that's how the numbers stack up.

  Receptions Yards TDs YPC
Todd Pinkston 36 676 1 18.8
Jeremy Maclin 55 762 4 13.9

Hard to believe that Pinkston averaged more yards per catch in '04 than Jackson last season, but it's true.

  Receptions Yards TDs YPC
Freddie Mitchell 22 377 2 17.1
Jason Avant 41 587 3 14.3

And for the tight ends, I combined numbers for L.J. Smith and Chad Lewis from '04.

  Receptions Yards TDs YPC
Lewis and Smith 63 644 8 10.2
Brent Celek 76 971 8 12.8
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Statistically and otherwise speaking, the T.O. performance in '04 was superior to the Jackson performance in '09. I'm not sure many would argue otherwise.

Other than that, though, the '09 performances were better.

An obvious question to ask is: How much did the Eagles pass in '09, compared to '04? Naturally, more attempts and completions would lead to better numbers for the receivers and tight ends.

It's pretty amazing how similar the team passing numbers were in the two years. Take a look:

  Comp. Att. Yards Comp. % Y/A
2004 336 547 4,208 61.4 7.7
2009 335 553 4,380 60.6 7.9

The other striking difference is the age of the players discussed. Owens was 31; Jackson 23. Pinkston 27; Maclin 21. Mitchell and Avant were both 26. Smith was 24; Lewis 33; and Celek 24.

The data above focuses on the receivers and tight ends. What goes unmentioned are the contributions to the passing game from the running backs. Brian Westbrook of course lined up all over the place in '04 and was the team's second-leading receiver with 73 catches for 703 yards. LeSean McCoy last season had 40 catches for 308 yards.

And, of course, there's Donovan McNabb's performance. He was on a different level in 2004.

Believe it or not, I actually had a reason for checking these things out. Yahoo Sports' Jason Cole ranks the league's receiving corps, defined as wide receivers and tight ends. The Eagles come in at No. 9.

Quarterback play and receiver/tight end play is obviously directly related. Of the eight teams Cole has ahead of the Eagles, all but two had a guy among the top eight in QB rating.

What do you think? Are the Eagles too low? Too high? The teams ranked above them, starting at the top are: the Colts, Saints, Chargers, Vikings, Packers, Cardinals, Texans, Falcons.

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About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for His earliest memories as a sports fan include several trips to Veterans Stadium with his Dad. He's not a beat writer or an Insider, but is here to discuss the NFL 365 days a year. E-mail him at or by clicking here

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