Through seven weeks of the 2009 season, Brent Celek had caught 37 balls for 447 yards.
At the same point this season, he has just 21 catches for 229 yards.
So the obvious question is: What's wrong with Celek in 2010?
The first item to look at is targets. Is Celek getting the same number of looks per game this season? In '09, Celek had 112 targets, or seven per game.
In 2010, he has 42 targets, or six per game. So his targets are only down by one per game. In other words, both Kevin Kolb and Michael Vick are still looking in Celek's direction. Only Jeremy Maclin and LeSean McCoy have more targets than him through seven weeks.
Are there fewer targets total to go around? Nope. Last year, the Eagles had 34.6 passing targets per game. This year, that number is up slightly to 35.6.
I took overall targets, receptions and yards from last year and broke them down by percentage. Note that these are just the top six pass-catchers. No other player had more than 10 catches.
|2009||% Targets||% Receptions||% Rec. Yards|
Now, here's a look at how it breaks down through seven games this season:
|2010||% Targets||% Receptions||% Rec. Yards|
And finally, the difference from last year to this year:
|Diff. in targets||% Receptions||% Rec. Yards|
So, what do all these numbers mean?
Let's start with Celek. In terms of percentage of targets, he's down 3.3 percent. Jackson is the only player who's seen a greater dropoff, but he's missed almost two full games. Last year, Celek accounted for 22.7 percent of the team's receptions. This year, that number is down to 13.5 percent. Again, along with Jackson, he's the only player who's seen a decrease.
And finally, receiving yards. In '09, Celek accounted for 22.2 percent of the offense's receiving yards. This year, he's down to 13 percent.
The greatest increase in numbers belongs to McCoy. It's reasonable to assume he'll surpass last year's totals for receptions and yards in next week's game against the Colts. McCoy is accounting for 17.7 percent of the Eagles' targets. Only Maclin has a higher number. And he's accounted for 24.4 percent of the receptions, the most of any player.
Part of McCoy's production as a receiver goes back to the offensive line. In the last two weeks, specifically, the Eagles have often called screens to McCoy, and he's the most-frequent target on checkdowns.
Jackson's numbers are down because he's missed time. And Maclin's numbers are up because he's played well, and he's been counted on more with Jackson out. Avant's up in targets and receptions, but down in yards.
Getting back to Celek, here's a comparison of his 2009 and 2010 numbers. All numbers on a per/game basis:
Last year, Celek averaged 60.7 yards per game. This year, his best total for a single game has been 47 yards against the 49ers. The rest of the numbers are down across the board.
The other factor is big plays. Celek had 16 catches of 20 yards or more last season. This year, he's only had four.
The decrease in production cannot be attributed to one single thing. By my count, Celek has four drops on the season. STATS.com has him down for six, but drops are a subjective statistic. There were multiple plays against the Niners that could have gone either way. I guess I was in a cheerful mood when I charted that game.
Last week, against the Titans, Kolb had Celek open for a deep ball, but the pass was underthrown. In Week 1, Celek didn't have a catch until the Eagles' 42nd play from scrimmage.
Given these factors, it's difficult to predict how the final nine games will play out for Celek. According to Football Outsiders, he was tied for the league lead last season with 12 drops, so those could certainly continue. His targets should remain pretty consistent.
Before the season, many assumed Kolb and Celek would have a great chemistry. But it's really been the opposite. The two have been out of sync on several occasions.
When Jackson comes back, and factoring in the way Maclin's been playing, it's reasonable to assume that the primary focus of opposing defenses will be to limit big plays downfield, which should open things up for Celek. But it'll be up to him and Vick to get on the same page as the Eagles look to stay in contention for the NFC East title and a playoff berth.