Projecting the 2015 Philadelphia Eagles Offense: Tight Ends & Sproles Edition


So we are one week into the true NFL offseason and, with five weeks to go before camp opens, there is going to be a large void in Eagles related news for the foreseeable future.  We may get the occasional roster move or player/coach quote to devour.  Mostly, though, we’ll have a lot of time to either think deeply about the 2015 Eagles or enjoy the shark-infested waters of the Atlantic Ocean.  So, until August 2nd, enjoy the weekly attempts at predicting the 53-man roster or, like here, projecting player performances.

The next couple weeks we’ll attempt to project the offensive production per unit.  In the last two weeks we’ve projected the running backs and  the wide receivers.  This week we’ll take on the tight ends & Darren Sproles (as a receiving threat) before finishing next week with the quarterbacks.


Zach Ertz – 75 receptions, 925 yards, 8 touchdowns

                 ProFootball Focus graded Ertz out as the fifth-best TE in the NFL last year despite being 12th in targets & receptions, 11th in yards, and 21st in touchdowns.  Why?  For the same reason Brandon Graham graded out so highly by PFF; because he produces when he gets playing time.  Ertz was on the field for only 603 snaps last season: the 29th highest total in the NFL among tight ends.  Last year he turned those opportunities into  58 catches for 702 yards & 3 TDs.  If he replicates that in 2015, you have to begin to question Ertz, Kelly or both.  This year, I think Ertz sees the field far more frequently as he begins to displace Chip Kelly darling an aging Brent Celek.  He’ll be a top-8 TE in all major categories this year or it’ll be a major disappointment.


Brent Celek – 20 rec, 225 yds, 1 TD

                I think it’s time we all begin to appreciate the career that Celek has put together in Philadelphia.  After eight seasons with the Eagles, he ranks 4th in games played, 8th in receptions, 11th in receiving yards, and 14th in touchdowns.  By the way this is among tight ends, wide receivers, and running backs.  Considering just ends, Celek is 3rd in games played & receptions, 4th in yards, and 5th in touchdowns.  The guys ahead of him in these categories played football in the 1940s-60s.  While being a stalwart in the blocking game, Celek has been a historically solid receiving tight end for this franchise.  Respect.  This year—as Ertz trends up—Celek will begin to see his receiving contributions fall.  In the same way the old guy in your pickup game still gets his, Celek has the game-knowledge to still produce on a catch-to-catch basis.  The opportunities, however, will decline as Ertz becomes a more well-rounded offensive threat.  If Celek gets 20 receptions, he’ll manage the stats above.  If he gets more than that, it is because other guys (Ertz, Jordan Matthews, Josh Huff, Nelson Agholor, the RBs, etc.) aren’t getting it done.


Trey Burton – 5 rec. 40 yards, 0 TDs

                Anyone know what to do with this guy? Honestly?  He is entering his sophomore campaign and will, in all likelihood, will be the third TE on the roster.  Kelly loves Celek for his leadership and NFL experience.  Kelly should love Ertz for his play-making ability & athletic control.  So where does Burton fit?  He fits on special teams and, with some luck, as the guy moving forward who will eventually replace Brent Celek as the traditional Y-tight end.  Last year, Burton contributed precisely zero receptions to the passing game.  This year, if he manages 5-10 receptions for 40-50 yards—while becoming an NFL caliber blocker—then he will prove to be an upgrade over departed James Casey.


Total: 100 receptions, 1190 yards, 9 touchdowns

                2014 TE production (Ertz, Celek, & Casey): 93 receptions, 1101 yards, 6 TDs


Darren Sproles  – 50 rec, 425 yds, 3 TDs

                 Before last season, it was widely assumed that Darren Sproles was going to step into Chip Kelly’s offense and become a focal point/fantasy darling.  From 2011-2013, in his time with the Saints, Sproles averaged 77 receptions & amassed 16 receiving scores.  Last year—his first in Philadelphia—Sproles was (disappointingly) targeted just 63 times.  He caught 40 of those balls for 387 yards & no scores.  It is safe to say that he will continue to average around 8.5 yards per reception but I am not convinced an increased number of targets is in the plans.  With the new additions of DeMarco Murray & Ryan Mathews in the backfield—not to mention the anticipated growth of Jordan Mathews, Josh Huff,  & Ertz and introduction of Nelson Agholor—it is hard to see an envision a significant rise in production from the aging Sproles.  If he gets to 50 receptions, then I think the offense will be better for it, but this may be the most aggressive estimation in this series to date.