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Division Links: BtB thinks Dallas may have best QB combo in NFL; BGN worries about Philly’s WR group

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New Orleans Saints v Dallas Cowboys Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images
Bleeding Green Nation

Eagles have more questions than answers at wide receiver

DESEAN JACKSON

BGN dubbed Jackson as “the most important Eagle not named Carson Wentz” heading into 2019. I think it’s safe to say that proclamation was right. Philly’s plodding offense sorely lacked his explosive ability when he essentially went down for the season after Week 1.

He’s played in just 63% of possible games over the past five seasons. Jackson is coming off core muscle surgery and he turns 34 this year. He’s likely not going to be available for all 16 games, which he’s only ever done twice and not since 2013.

ALSHON JEFFERY

Even if Jeffery remains on the team, his availability is in question. Jeffery suffered a Lisfranc injury in mid-December last year. While some have suggested he could be ready for September, others remain skeptical. A doctor I talked to explained why he’s bearish on Jeffery’s 2020 outlook. One must also consider Jalen Mills took a full 12 months to recover from a foot injury similar to the one Jeffery suffered. There’s a real chance Jeffery begins the season on the physically unable to perform (PUP) list, which would cause him to miss six games at least.

JALEN REAGOR

Consider this historical perspective via The Athletic’s Sheil Kapadia:

Since 2015, 39 wide receivers have been selected in the first or second round. On average, those players have produced 459 receiving yards as rookies.

Just three of the 39 (7.7 percent) — Michael Thomas, Amari Cooper and A.J. Brown — produced as an average No. 1 wide receiver. Ten of 39 (25.6 percent) produced as an average No. 2 wide receiver.

This is not fancy math or a complex statistical model, but hopefully it gets the point across: It’s a lot harder to find a productive No. 1 or No. 2 wide receiver who contributes immediately than most people think.

JJ ARCEGA-WHITESIDE

Let’s not sugarcoat it: JJAW’s rookie season was very discouraging. He could’ve stood to benefit from having a full offseason in an NFL program this year but unfortunately that didn’t happen.

MARQUISE GOODWIN

Clearly, expectations for Goodwin should be kept low. This is ultimately a guy who’s averaged 31 yards per game over seven seasons.

Blogging the Boys

Cowboys are contenders for the best quarterback room in the NFL

Dak Prescott + Andy Dalton + Ben DiNucci = ?

It’s our contention that at this point in their careers, Drew Brees and Dak Prescott are in a similar tier, whether you take one over the other is personal preference at this point. The interesting conversation here is which QB2 would you prefer? Picking between Jameis Winston and Andy Dalton is an extremely tough debate due to the massive differences between the two quarterbacks. Dalton is much more conservative, but has the ability to keep a team competitive in a backup situation. Winston has much more upside, with more natural arm talent, but turnovers, and high-risk throws make the competition for the better QB2 extremely interesting.

Either way, it easily comes down to the Cowboys and Saints for the best quarterback depth chart in the NFL.

Big Blue View

Summer School 2020: Creating pressure on punts

[P]laymaking punt returners aren’t easy to come by. Most importantly, the more efficient approach for picking up yards on special teams is effectively pulling off a block. Why have a returner run back a 45-yard punt, when your punt block team can get you the ball at or behind the original line of scrimmage?

That being said, blocking punts is not easy. Even with a perfectly executed rush, a punt unit can still sneak off a punt. When sending immense pressure, the added bonus if you don’t block it is you can still disrupt the timing and psyche of a punter.

As someone who’s snapped to four different punters in college, I can tell you most punters don’t react well to almost being blocked or being run into. Punters are not like quarterbacks in terms of demeanor, and even the best punters can get flustered. If you can get inside the head of a punter, you can impact the distance on his punts. Punters will shorten their steps or hurry if he knows a heavy rush is coming again, possibly cutting off yards from his punt.

Judge was one of the best special teams coordinators in the NFL last season for a reason. I’d argue that his success at blocking punts is what made him so highly regarded. Thomas McGaughey is returning as the special teams coordinator next season, but Judge will likely influence the schemes used on all special teams units.

In 2020, we will likely see much more aggressive special teams units than in the past. And it will all start with attacking punters.