Brent Celek showed just how powerful the Eagles offense can be.
Flash back to Week 14 of last season. Eagles at Cowboys.
Cowboys Stadium hosted The DeSean Jackson Show. Jackson caught four passes for 210 yards including a 91-yard TD in a 30-27 Eagles win.
The Cowboys werent about to let that happen Sunday night at the Linc. And they didnt. The Road Runner had just three catches for 31 yards.
Did you see how deep their safeties were playing? It was 500 yards back, Michael Vick said. Cant throw a bomb against that.
So the Eagles finally found Celek, who had seven receptions one more than his last three games combined for 94 yards and a touchdown.
We tried to utilize him a bit more, head coach Andy Reid said. I dont think we were doing that enough early.
Celek looked like the guy who two seasons ago piled up 76 receptions for 971 yards and eight touchdowns. The guy who looked like the next Mark Bavaro, like the leagues next elite tight end.
Last season, Celek became more of a blocker than pass-catcher the Eagles max-protected to give Vick time to launch those aforementioned bombs and his numbers were nearly cut in half. He played through a wrist injury, and his hands also went from sure to shaky.
In training camp, Vick acknowledged that he wanted to target Celek more frequently and recalled how he used Alge Crumpler in Atlanta. But Celek entered Sunday with only 13 catches for 115 yards.
If theyre blitzing a lot, there are times when I have to stay in, because if Im not staying in, theres going to be a guy free coming to Mike, Celek said. It just so happened to work out where theyre playing a lot of Cover 2. We were able to take advantage of them in the middle of the field, and thats what we did.
This young and highly talented offense has matured.
In the past, the Eagles would try to throw over the Cover 2 to no avail. They didnt want to take what the defense gave them. Or worse yet, they couldnt.
This time, Jackson beat Dallas as a decoy. He ran downfield, extended the defense and opened up the middle for Celek and Jason Avant, who lives over the middle. Avant was their second-leading receiver with five catches for 74 yards.
People honor obviously his ability and speed, Reid said. Its one thing just to have speed, but its another thing to be as good a receiver as he is and have speed.
And Vick didnt force the ball to Jackson or, as hes done in the past, didnt just dump the ball to LeSean McCoy.
I think hes done a good job of that, Reid said. Hes making good decisions.
Whats more, Vick showed that the off-season studying has paid off. He has learned to beat the blitz. Reid said Vick changed plays at the line on two of the Eagles four TDs, including the 12-yard touchdown pass to Jeremy Maclin in the first quarter.
That was huge. That play-call that Mike made that was big-time. He was doing that stuff all night, Celek said. He was on point. He was throwing the ball great. We go as Mike goes.
And Celek doesnt care where the ball goes.
Weve got weapons all over the field. If they try to take one away, other guys have to step up, and weve got guys who can do that, he said.
Honestly, I never get frustrated. As long as we win. It all comes down to winning. If I had zero catches tonight and we won, Id be just as happy.
E-mail Andy Schwartz at firstname.lastname@example.org.