PHILADELPHIA – The time to play the hero has arrived, and Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Jalen Reagor just hasn’t been able to secure it.
With Philadelphia behind the New York Giants 13-7 on Sunday, the quarterback Jalen hurts fell back on the fourth and 10, rushed over and then left a flight over the middle for Reagor, who attempted a jump to the 1-yard line, only for the ball to escape from his hands and hits the grass.
He also dropped a more difficult potential catch in the end zone earlier in the journey – mistakes that made him a focal point of criticism in the fallout from the searing loss.
It’s familiar territory for Reagor, who got off to a slow start in his professional career (56 catches, 597 yards, 3 touchdowns) compared to other first-round receivers in the 2020 Draft, a group that includes Justin Jefferson. , Lamb CeeDee, Jerry Jeudy, Brandon Aiyuk and Henry Ruggs III. Jefferson’s meteoric rise was particularly problematic for Reagor from a perceptual standpoint. The Eagles passed on to Jefferson to select Reagor 21st overall, believing Jefferson would be primarily a slot catcher in the NFL and Reagor’s skills were better suited to offense. Jefferson was later selected by the Minnesota Vikings and set a new rookie record for receiving yards (1,400) to go with seven touchdowns en route to a Pro Bowl berth.
Limited by injuries, Reagor finished with 31 catches for 396 yards and one touchdown in 11 games his rookie season.
The combination of handling Jefferson’s comparisons and injuries took their toll.
“His mental health was poor last year,” a source close to Reagor told ESPN. âMentally, it beat him. A big moment. “
Reagor ditched social media and, instead of focusing on outside noise, focused on his inner circle. This offseason he said he felt like a “totally different person” and that fans in turn would see a different player – the one who was having more fun.
Celebrations, however, have been rare. Reagor (25 catches, 201 yards, 2 touchdowns) didn’t play much on offense, playing a supporting role behind rookie wide receiver DeVonta Smith and tight end Dallas Goedert in the passing game. With the Eagles relying heavily on the run lately, Reagor was only targeted eight total times over a four-week span before getting seven targets against New York, resulting in two catches for 31 yards. and a pair of crucial drops.
Still, Reagor’s state of mind “is very good right now,” a source said. His decision to be the first player to walk out of the locker room on Sunday to address the media and shoulder his responsibilities has been presented as proof.
âYou have to take the heat. [Outside criticism] doesn’t mean that much to me, so it’s okay. It was for me to appropriate myself. Everything that’s going to be said will be said anyway, “Reagor said.
“You just have to move on because tomorrow will always be here. I still have to go to practice, I have to play again next week. You can’t dwell on it too much. Just me appropriating myself. then move on. “
Reagor caught 148 balls for 2,248 yards and 22 touchdowns in three seasons at TCU while posing a threat in the run and return game. He ran an unofficial 4.28 40-yard sprint on his pro day after a disappointing 4.47 time on the scout combine, while also placing the 97th percentile among draft prospects with a jump 42 inch vertical. These skills have surfaced on the field of play at times, including in joint practices against the New England Patriots this summer when he landed a one-handed catch similar to Odell Beckham Jr. and his 21-year crash. yards in the first half against Giants Sunday.
But so far there have only been flashes.
– Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) August 17, 2021
“He works extremely hard in training to improve,” said coach Nick Sirianni. âWhat you want from every player, not just Jalen, is consistency, and I think what we saw yesterday was that he wasn’t consistent throughout the game. He knows that. We told him about it before. Consistency is when you take the next step in your development. He has shown that he has gaming skills. He shows that he can make big plays. . You just want to see it more consistently. “
When asked if he had considered sitting Reagor for at least one game after Sunday’s late struggles, Sirianni replied that he hadn’t “because I don’t think it’s in. the best interest of the team, because I think Jalen Reagor gives us the best chance of winning. ” Sirianni added after the game that the coaches “have to do certain things to get him to touch because he is an explosive player”.
The Eagles have invested a lot of resources in the wide receiver over the past few seasons, including using first-round picks over Smith and Reagor in back-to-back draft picks. Reagor, 22, has two more years on his rookie contract after this season. Ideally, he and Smith become a formidable tandem, allowing the Eagles to invest in other positions of need.
But time is running out this season. The Eagles’ offseason plans will be fully worked out shortly, and it seems likely that a veteran wide receiver will be on them at this point. Growth occurs at different rates in the NFL, particularly at the receiver level. Giving up too soon a talent like Reagor could come back and bite them. But if he wants to send a message to the organization moving towards free agency and the project, and if he intends to change the narrative and the trajectory of his career, now is the time to jump in.