Friday, December 19, 2014

Steve Smith MIA for Eagles

Michael Vick and the Eagles' offense relied on the intermediate passing game Sunday night, and the results were spectacular.

Steve Smith MIA for Eagles

Eagles wide receiver Steve Smith. (Alex Brandon/AP)
Eagles wide receiver Steve Smith. (Alex Brandon/AP)

Michael Vick and the Eagles' offense relied on the intermediate passing game Sunday night, and the results were spectacular.

Vick completed 21 of 28 passes for 279 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Even though he didn't take many shots downfield, Vick averaged a season-high 9.96 yards per attempt, hitting receivers in space and allowing them to make plays after the catch.

Brent Celek led the way with seven catches for 94 yards, and Jason Avant added five receptions for 74 yards.

But one player who was missing in action was Steve Smith. And when I say missing in action, I mean completely. He was active, but was not on the field for a single offensive snap. Part of that had to do with the Eagles' personnel groupings. By my count, they only went with four wide receivers once. But Riley Cooper played eight snaps ahead of Smith.

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Here are Smith's week-by-week snap counts:

Week 1 5
Week 2 18
Week 3 12
Week 4 10
Week 5 3
Week 6 7
Week 7 0

When the Eagles signed Smith, Jeremy Maclin's status was uncertain. It also seemed unlikely that Smith was going to be ready for the opener. But he was active right away, and has been for every game this season. In Week 2, against Atlanta, he played a season-high 18 snaps.

So it seems strange that now, when health should be less of a concern, Smith's role is even smaller. And you would think that if health was a major factor, the Eagles would just make him inactive for a week or two.

Adam Schefter reported on ESPN's Football Today podcast (10/27 episode) that the Eagles had made Smith available at the trade deadline. He's only signed to a one-year deal.

On the season, Smith's got five catches for 63 yards on nine targets. In the last four games, though, he has totaled just one catch for 7 yards.

The way I see it, Smith is unlikely to have much of a role the rest of the way, unless one of the receivers ahead of him gets injured. When the Eagles go with four wide receivers, they have to take either LeSean McCoy or Brent Celek off the field. Neither option seems that appealing, given how each guy is playing. And while it seemed possible when the Eagles signed Smith that he'd take snaps away from Jason Avant, that is no longer the case, considering how well Avant is playing.

If ever there were a game when it would have made sense for Smith to be more involved, it would have been Sunday night. The Eagles worked the middle of the field and had six trips to the red zone. But like I said, no Smith at all.

While there's still a lot of football to be played, it seems unlikely at this point that Smith will be much of a factor going forward.

VEGAS BUYING INTO BIRDS

The Eagles are now 9-point favorites for Monday night's matchup against the Bears, according to BetOnline.com. I believe that number was just 7 earlier Tuesday morning.

And the Super Bowl odds are even more surprising. The Eagles are now +900 to hoist the Lombardi Trophy, down from +2000 before the win over the Cowboys. Only the Packers (+220), the Patriots (+440) and the Steelers (+750) have better odds. The Saints are also +900.

In case you missed it from earlier Tuesday, I posted Man Up on the offense, focusing on the outstanding line play Sunday night.


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Sheil Kapadia Philly.com
About this blog
Sheil Kapadia is in his fifth season writing about the Eagles and the NFL for philly.com. 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 skapadia@philly.com or by clicking here

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