Paul Domowitch | High-priced receivers not delivering

Posted: September 18, 2007

THE EAGLES have a lot of money invested in Reggie Brown and Kevin Curtis. But two games into a season that is quickly turning sour, they're not getting much of a return on their investment.

Last year, the Eagles handed Brown, who was in just his second pro season, a 5-year, $28.6 million contract extension that included a hefty $10 million signing bonus.

In March, after failing to re-sign Donte Stallworth, the Eagles turned to Curtis, who had spent most of his first four NFL seasons as a No. 3 receiver for the St. Louis Rams, giving him a 6-year, $32 million deal.

Last night, against a Redskins defense that was missing one of its starting cornerbacks (Fred Smoot), Brown and Curtis were mostly invisible in the 20-12 loss. Ditto for Week 1 when the Eagles managed just 10 first downs and 210 net yards against Green Bay in a 16-13 loss.

Brown caught just two passes for 27 yards against Washington, while Curtis had four for a measly 28. Against the Packers, Brown had just one catch for 14 yards, while Curtis had two for 53.

So, after two games, Brown and Curtis have combined for nine catches for a whopping 122 yards. And no touchdowns. Take out that 37-yard reception Curtis had against the Packers and the two of them are averaging a collective 10.6 yards per catch.

Ironically, the Eagles' most productive wide receiver thus far has been second-year man Jason Avant, who is making a lot less money than either Brown or Curtis. Avant, the team's slot receiver, had five catches for 55 yards against the Redskins and had three for 54 and a touchdown in the Week 1 loss. Seven of Avant's eight catches have resulted in either a first down or touchdown.

Brown and Curtis have had their problems getting off of press coverage in both of the Eagles' two losses, which has upset their timing with quarterback Donovan McNabb, who continues to be a shell of his Pro Bowl self.

McNabb was too often erratic against the Redskins, averaging just 5.2 yards per attempt. Eight of his 28 completions went to running back Brian Westbrook.

In Brown's defense, he should've had a second-quarter touchdown. He beat Redskins safety Sean Taylor on a slant route in the end zone on a third-down play from the Washington 7. But McNabb overthrew him. The Eagles ended up settling for one of David Akers' four field goals.

McNabb also overshot an open Curtis on a third-down pass at the Washington 9 on the Eagles' final last-gasp possession.

Just Wondering

-- Why Tony Hunt can't get on the field. The rookie running back dressed last week, but didn't play. Last night, he was one of the team's inactives. So much for the benefit of signing early and getting to camp on time.

-- What Joe Gibbs was thinking when he initially sent out the field goal unit with 14 seconds left in the second quarter and the Redskins on the Philadelphia 11 yard-line. It was only after the Eagles' Andy Reid called a timeout that Gibbs came to his senses and took a shot at the end zone, which resulted in a 16-yard touchdown catch by tight end Chris Cooley.

Thumbs Down

-- To Andy Reid's decision to kick a field goal on fourth-and-3 from the Washington 4 with 6:30 left in the fourth quarter and the Eagles trailing 20-9. Yes, it kept his team within a touchdown and two-point attempt of tying the game. But when you get that close, you have to go for it. If they had scored there and made the two-point conversion, they could've settled for a game-tying field goal on their next possession, when they drove to the Washington 9 only to turn it over on downs.

Did you notice?

-- The Redskins were without two defensive starters last night. Defensive end Phillip Daniels (foot) and cornerback Fred Smoot (hamstring) both were inactive. Daniels was replaced by Demetric Evans. Shawn Springs started in place of Smoot.

-- Linebacker Chris Gocong was the only starter who played on the Eagles' kickoff coverage unit. The only starter on their kickoff return unit was defensive tackle Mike Patterson.

-- Jason Campbell attempted five passes on the Redskins' first possession. Three were thrown to tight end Chris Cooley, all incomplete. Cooley dropped two of them. Campbell didn't throw Cooley's way again until late in the second quarter when he hit him for a 16-yard TD that gave Washington a 10-6 lead.

-- The costly holding penalty on center Jamaal Jackson on the Eagles' first possession.

-- The Eagles used a no-huddle on their first possession.

-- The sarcastic cheer from the crowd when Reno Mahe caught a first-quarter punt and returned it 3 yards.

-- The early difficulty William James had covering Santana Moss. Moss had three catches against James in the first quarter, including a 48-yarder that set up Shaun Suisham's 35-yard field goal.

-- Tight end L.J. Smith played quite a bit more last night than he did against the Packers, when he was on the field for only about 15 plays. He wasn't any more of a factor, though. He had two receptions for 12 yards against the Redskins. He had two for 14 in the loss to the Packers.

-- Donovan McNabb had Reggie Brown open for what should have been a touchdown early in the second quarter on a third-and-four play from the Washington 7. Brown ran a slant and had inside position on safety Sean Taylor. But McNabb's throw went wild high.

-- The difference in McNabb's post-knee injury acceleration ability was evident late in the first quarter when Redskins linebacker Marcus Washington easily caught him from behind for a 3-yard sack.

-- The poor punt by Sav Rocca late in the second quarter that kick-started the Redskins' go-ahead touchdown drive. His low 33-yarder gave the Redskins the ball at their own 27 with 1:43 left.

-- The missed tackle by cornerback Sheldon Brown on Antwaan Randle El on Randle El's 17-yard catch and run on the Redskins' second-quarter touchdown drive.

By the numbers

-- In his last 5 starts, Donovan McNabb has averaged just 6.0 yards per attempt and has a .519 completion percentage. He hasn't completed more than 53 percent of his passes in any of those 5 games.

-- McNabb failed to throw a touchdown pass last night for only the fifth time in his last 31 starts.

-- Brian Westbrook finished with 162 rushing and receiving yards. Not including last season's meaningless regular-season finale against Atlanta in which he made only a cameo appearance, he's had 100-plus rushing and receiving yards in 13 straight games.

-- Westbrook now has 38 career 100-yard rushing and receiving games. But in the last 24 games he's done it, the Eagles' record curiously is 11-13.

-- The last time the Eagles failed to score at least 14 points in consecutive games was December of 2004, when they beat Dallas, 12-7, then lost a week later to St. Louis, 20-7.

-- With last night's loss, the Eagles are 18-9 in prime-time games under Andy Reid. They now are 10-6 on Monday Night Football since 2000.

-- Lito Sheppard has missed 6 games due to injury since becoming a starter in '04. The Eagles are 2-4 without Sheppard.

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