2020 has been a strange and frustrating year for the Philadelphia Eagles.
One of the more head scratching developments out of this year has been the sudden rise to stardom that Travis Fulgham saw in weeks 4 through 8, only to become a non-factor in the weeks that followed.
He had the most receiving yards in the NFL in that five game stretch, along with four touchdown grabs. Since the bye week, Fulgham has caught just four passes for 32 yards and no touchdowns. So what gives?
The return of Alshon Jeffery from injury coincided with Fulgham’s decreased production, as he started dipping into Fulgham’s playing time. In the past three games, Fulgham has seen his snap percentage drop from 52, to 40, to just 16 percent last week against New Orleans.
Doug Pederson has been pressed numerous times about Fulgham’s sudden disappearance from the lineup. Every time, Pederson has pointed to Alshon. “I’ll tell you this, Alshon is getting healthier and is playing better and we game plan for him,” Pederson said during a press conference earlier this week. He’s also flat out said, “he’s got to play better,” when discussing Fulgham.
Pederson has also taken on some of the blame for Fulgham’s lacking production, stating, “That’s based on game plan, so you can’t put it on Travis. You can put it on me. I’m the play caller, I call the personnel groups, so put it on me.”
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Pederson’s never been great with words, so it’s hard to draw any conclusions as to why Fulgham isn’t playing based on his comments. Maybe he has bad practice habits? That could be one reason, and it would make some sense based off other comments Pederson has made throughout the season.
At the end of November, Pederson made a few statements regarding Fulgham. On November 23, he said, “I’m concerned about Travis’ production and getting him better and helping him get better. He needs to get better.” On the 25th on November, Pederson said, “He really has to focus in and detail his work and practice hard and fast.”
Read between the lines there, and it seems like Pederson is pointing out some of Fulgham’s bad practice habits.
To me, that reasoning for not playing Fulgham more makes the most sense. Alshon has not played well since his return — he’s tallied just three catches in five games, although he did catch a touchdown from Jalen Hurts in last Sunday’s game. So, when Pederson says that Alshon is ‘playing better,’ we all know that’s just not true.
If it really does come down to bad practice habits, Fulgham definitely deserves some of the blame for not seeing the field more. He clearly has the talent to be a solid receiver in this league, but talent alone will get you nowhere in this league.
If he tightens up during practice and develops his game over this upcoming offseason, I have no doubt Fulgham will be a starting receiver for the Eagles next season. But as far as the rest of this season goes, it doesn’t feel like his production will reach the heights that it did during that five game stretch in the middle of the season.