Eagles analysis

Eagles snap counts: Is Quez Watkins the WR3 again?

Here's a complete look at Eagles' snap counts from their 42-19 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

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In his second game back from Injured Reserve, Quez Watkins was clearly the Eagles’ third wide receiver in their 42-19 loss to the 49ers on Sunday.

Last week, both Julio Jones and Olamide Zaccheaus played more snaps than Watkins in his first game back from a hamstring injury.

But on Sunday, Watkins was clearly the No. 3. Here’s how the snap counts were divvied up among the receivers:

DeVonta Smith: 72 snaps (100%)

A.J. Brown: 62 snaps (86%)

Quez Watkins: 46 snaps (64%)

Olamide Zaccheaus: 24 snaps (33%)

Julio Jones: 10 snaps (14%)

Smith and Brown both had really strong performances in this game. Smith had 9 catches for 96 yards and a touchdown, while Brown had 8 catches for 114 yards.

Watkins ended up with 3 catches on 4 targets for 28 yards. He was also targeted on a deep ball on which 49ers cornerback Ambry Thomas could have been called for defensive pass interference but was not. Watkins wasn’t bad in this game and neither Zaccheaus or Jones were targeted.

At the start of the season, Watkins was clearly the No. 3 receiver but then he injured his hamstring in Week 2 and hasn’t been able to be on the field very much since then. (To be clear, we’re talking about the third wide receiver, not the third option in the passing offense. That job belongs to Dallas Goedert, who is expected to return against the Cowboys.)

Last week, Nick Sirianni was asked if he wanted to have a guy solidify that WR3 spot.

“Yeah, I don't think that's necessary,” Sirianni said. “I think they all do a nice job of having their different strengths and different things they can do. So, no, I think the more guys that you can play in that role, the deeper you are, that's a good thing for us.”

Other offensive notes

• The Eagles desperately need Goedert, who is expected to return next week against the Cowboys. In this game, their top tight end in snaps was Albert Okwuegbunam, who had been buried on the depth chart all season. Okwuegbunam played 32 snaps, while Jack Stoll played 26 and Grant Calcaterra played 13. The only target to a tight end went to Okwuegbunam and he didn’t catch it.

• At running back, Kenny Gainwell out-snapped D’Andre Swift 39-30 in this game. This is the first time that has happened since Week 1. Neither player was very productive on the ground but Gainwell did have five catches for 42 yards.

• Jalen Hurts had to miss five snaps in this game to be checked for a concussion but he was able to return. Marcus Mariota played those five snaps in his place. Despite a knee injury earlier in the season, these are the first snaps Hurts has missed all season. He’s now 829/834 in 2023. Although, Hurts probably should have been pulled late in this blowout. 

• Lane Johnson returned from a groin injury that kept him out last week against the Bills and performed well against superstar Nick Bosa. All five offensive linemen played all 72 snaps.

Defensive notes

• After playing 95 snaps against the Bills last week, the defense had to play just 59 snaps in this game. But that’s not to say it went well. It didn’t. After two early and dominant stops, the defense was gashed by the 49ers, who scored touchdowns on six consecutive drives.

• The Eagles’ weakness at linebacker really showed up in this one. Without Zach Cunningham, the Eagles were forced to start Nicholas Morrow and Christian Elliss and they struggled. Morrow played all 59 snaps and Elliss played 44 in his first NFL start. The 49ers attacked the middle of the field.

• The edge rotation: Haason Reddick (42), Josh Sweat (41), Brandon Graham (25), Nolan Smith (11). This was Smith’s highest usage of the season at 19%.

• The DT rotation: Fletcher Cox (38), Jalen Carter (38), Milton Williams (34), Jordan Davis (31), Marlon Tuipulotu (11), Moro Ojomo (1). Pretty healthy rotation here with Cox and Williams back. Cox left the last game with a groin injury and Williams missed the Bills game with a concussion. Cox was able to play 38 snaps after missing practice all week.

• In the secondary, Reed Blankenship, Kevin Byard and James Bradberry played all 59 snaps, while Darius Slay played 55 before coming out late. Bradley Roby was out there for 26 plays, Sydney Brown played 7, Eli Ricks 5 and Josh Jobe 4. While Ricks didn’t play much, it seemed like the 49ers were quick to attack him when he was on the field.

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