How the Eagles are using Celek

Eagles tight end Brent Celek is currently experiencing his least productive stretch as a receiver in the last two years.

In the last four games, he has a total of four catches for 16 yards. Here are the numbers broken down by game:

Game Catches Yards
Week 7 (Titans) 2 8
Week 9 (Colts) 0 0
Week 10 (Redskins) 2 8
Week 11 (Giants) 0 0

So, why isn't Celek a bigger part of the passing game?

Let's start with targets. Is Celek getting as many looks as he got a year ago when he led the Eagles with 76 catches and was second on the team with 112 targets?

The answer is no. Through 10 games, Celek is averaging 4.7 targets per game. Last year, he was targeted 7 times per game.

And that target number is even lower in the last four. Celek has a total of 10 targets (2.5/game) in the last four. Against the Giants, he had zero targets. Two weeks earlier, against the Colts, he was targeted once.

Here are Celek's overall numbers (per game) this year, compared to last year:

  Targets Catches Yards Yards/catch
2009 7.0 4.75 60.7 12.8
2010 4.7 2.3 23.7 10.3

I took a closer look at Celek's role last week against the Giants. How many opportunities did he actually have to go out in his pattern?

Not many.

The Eagles ran 47 pass plays last week. On 15 of those (31.9 percent), Celek wasn't even on the field. On another 13 (27.7 percent), he was used exclusively as a blocker.

On three plays (6.4 percent), he chipped and then went out. And on 16 plays (34.0 percent), he was used as receiver.

Think about that, on the Eagles' 47 pass plays, there were only 19 instances (40.4 percent) where Michael Vick even had a chance to look at Celek. On just under 60 percent of the pass plays, Celek was either on the sidelines or in as a blocker.

So there's no question his role has changed of late. Last week, the Giants blitzed 18 times, and Celek was needed to stay in and help out.

The Eagles also used a couple formations that called for no tight end to be on the field. Here's a breakdown of the offensive formations against the Giants:

Formation Pct. of time used
1 RB, 3 WR, 1 TE 30.3%
2 RB, 2 WR, 1 TE 16.67%
1 RB, 2 WR, 2 TE 15.15%
2 RB, 3 WR 15.15%
1 RB, 4 WR 7.58%
2 RB, 1 WR, 2 TE 7.58%
3 WR, 2 TE 6.06%
4 WR, 1 TE 1.52%

As you can see, the Eagles used a formation of 2 RB, 3 WR or 1 RB, 4 WR on 22.73 percent of their snaps, meaning Celek was off the field on those plays.

When he has had opportunities, Celek hasn't made the most of them. His six drops on the season are fifth in the NFL, according to

The other aspect of the Eagles' tight end situation is who's on the field with Celek in two tight-end sets. In training camp, rookie Clay Harbor battled Cornelius Ingram for the position. Harbor won out and was active in Week 1.

But then the Eagles signed Garrett Mills, and Harbor didn't dress again until Week 10. He's played the last two games and saw his most significant action of the season against the Giants, as Harbor was on the field for 19 plays (28.8 percent).

Last week, the Eagles used two tight-end sets on 28.8 percent of the plays, but on the season, they've used two tight ends on just 15.7 percent of the plays. Last year, the Eagles used two tight ends 20 percent of the time. Only two NFL teams had two tight ends on the field less in 2009, according to Football Outsiders.

As the Eagles begin their final, six-week stretch, much of how they use Celek and their tight ends will depend on how defenses attack Vick and the offense.

The coaching staff will also have to decide whether Harbor is doing a good enough job, whether Ingram deserves another shot or whether Mills will get back on the field.