Miles Austin Providing Little Value to Philadelphia Eagles Offense

Andrew Kulp@@KulpSaysContributor INovember 17, 2015

CHARLOTTE, NC - OCTOBER 25:  Miles Austin #19 of the Philadelphia Eagles can't come up with a ball overthrown by Sam Bradford #7 on fourth down during the final minutes of their loss to the Carolina Panthers at Bank of America Stadium on October 25, 2015 in Charlotte, North Carolina. The Panthers won 27-16.  (Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images)
Grant Halverson/Getty Images

There was some confusion and debate as to why the Philadelphia Eagles bothered signing Miles Austin in the first place.

From the organization's perspective, Austin was once a proven, credible No. 1 wide receiver in the NFL, something the Eagles' roster lacked. Cynics only saw millions of dollars wasted on a 31-year-old, injury-prone player whose last productive season was in 2012.

So far, the cynics are right.

Austin 2015 Game Logs
GMTARECYDSTD
Wk 1 @ ATL32220
Wk 2 v DAL1000
Wk 3 @ NYJ4000
Wk 4 @ WAS32511
Wk 5 v NO1000
Wk 6 v NYG33600
Wk 7 @ CAR64520
Wk 8 @ DAL31270
Wk 9 v MIA4000
ESPN

Not only has Austin failed to produce for the Eagles, he's been more of a detriment than anything else. That was perhaps never more apparent than during the 20-19 loss to the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, in which the two-time Pro Bowler demonstrated a complete lack of ability and awareness.

Austin played 45 snaps and was targeted four times, yet he failed to record a single reception. But wait, it gets worse.

Twice, Austin wasn't even looking for the ball when it came his way—one instance resulting in a red-zone interception, the other during the Eagles' final drive. Austin also dropped a perfectly thrown pass, albeit in tight coverage, and later failed to get both feet in bounds on a would-be 26-yard touchdown.

In other words, Austin's presence did more harm than good to Philadelphia's cause in the loss, which arguably has been the case all season.

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Despite playing in all nine games, Austin has caught all of 12 passes. Granted, those 12 passes went for 212 yards and a touchdown, yet that's still barely more than one touch per game. On four occasions, the 10th-year veteran was unable to pull down so much as one reception.

Meanwhile, he's racked up the second-highest number snaps of any receiver on the team behind only Jordan Matthews, based on charting by Pro Football Focus.

Jun 17, 2015; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver Miles Austin (19) makes a catch during minicamp at The NovaCare Complex. Mandatory Credit: Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports
Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

Overall, PFF has Austin down for 28 targets on the season, which means quarterbacks are completing less than 50 percent of their targets to the veteran wideout. He's also on the hook for two drops, which might be a generous tab.

If Austin were in Philly on the cheap, say for the league minimum, that would be one thing. According to Spotrac, it took $2.3 million for him to sign a one-year contract.

This was coming off another injury-shortened season with the Cleveland Browns in 2014.

On one hand, his 47 catches for 568 yards and two touchdowns over 12 games isn't horrendous given the quarterback situation there. Then again, health was once again an issue, while his 12.1 yards per reception suggested his best days were well behind him.

Austin, somewhat miraculously, has managed to stay on the field for the Eagles. However, his effectiveness clearly—and not surprisingly for his age—has not improved.

The problem, which led the Eagles to turn to Austin in March, is there doesn't appear to be anybody fit to replace him.

Fellow veteran Riley Cooper is equally if not more ineffective. Second-year wideout Josh Huff continues to be unreliable. Rookie Nelson Agholor simply hasn't made near the impact many imagined he would when the Eagles selected the USC product in the first round of the 2015 draft.

Austin Stats Last 5 Seasons
YRRECYDSAVGTD
2015 (PHI, 9 GMS)1221217.11
2014 (CLE, 12 GMS)4756812.12
2013 (DAL, 11 GMS)2424410.20
2012 (DAL, 16 GMS)6694314.36
2011 (DAL, 10 GMS)4357913.57
NFL.com

Why is Austin even on the field? Well, the answer is simple, really.

The departure of Jeremy Maclin as a free agent during the offseason left the Eagles in a bind, and as much of a last resort as Austin is, sadly the offense can't do much better right now.

In theory, the Austin signing made a lot of sense. The Eagles didn't have an experienced feature receiver on the roster, and Austin could at least pose in that role if need be.

Unfortunately, the Eagles did need Austin to pose in that role, and he's been unable to open things up for Matthews in the slotmuch less catch the passes thrown his way. Simply put, the move hasn't worked out as planned.

Hopefully, Austin is proving to be a leader and teacher to a group of young receivers behind closed doors because he sure as heck isn't providing much value on the football field.

As long as the Eagles are relying on Austin to play significant snaps at receiver, it doesn't appear the passing attack will be in good hands.

Then again, it isn't anyway.

Despite so little production, Austin is second among Eagles receivers in receiving yards and third in receptions.

Single-game snap counts are tracked by the NFL Game Statistics & Information System.