PHILADELPHIA -- Quez Watkins has become an enigma over the past 12 months. Once considered the next breakout receiver on the Philadelphia Eagles, the tide has turned on Watkins after a roller coaster 2022 season that was more known for mistakes than highlight plays.
Don't tell Nick Sirianni that Watkins has taken a step back. The Eagles head coach went out of his way to single out Watkins and the strong offseason workout program he had.
"I love his attitude, and I've said this to him, and I have no problem saying it here ... we have a ton of confidence in Quez Watkins," Sirianni said prior to the final Eagles minicamp practice Thursday. "But I kind of sense from him -- he's never said this, but oh, some people think I stink? Wait. Wait. That's how he's attacked every day. That's how he's attacked practices, and I think that he looks really good."
Watkins didn't provide explosive plays as frequently in 2022 while becoming a liability on the field. He was responsible for a Jalen Hurts interception in Week 15 against the Chicago Bears and two of Gardner Minshew's interceptions in a Week 16 loss to the Dallas Cowboys, plays which Watkins either ran a poor route or didn't fight hard enough for the ball.
Then there was the fumble in Week 10 against the Washington Commanders that cost the Eagles points in an eventual loss. The final nail in the coffin was the Super Bowl drop in which Watkins misread Jalen Hurts' deep ball and failed to come up with the reception. The Eagles hit a field goal later in the drive, but that drop would have have been a touchdown in what was then a 24-21 Eagles' lead (the Eagles lost 38-35).
Watkins was once considered one of the ascending players on the Eagles roster after a 2021 season during which he had 43 catches for 647 yards, averaging 15.7 yards per catch. Those numbers significantly dipped in 2022, as Watkins finished with 33 catches for 354 yards -- a career-low 10.7 yards per catch.
"We know he has a lot of talent, and I'm excited about that," Sirianni said. "I really like the way he's gone about his business because he can't control anything but what he can control, and he can't control what other people think about him. He can't control anything like that. Can't control things that may have happened to him last year, the opportunities that he got last year or did not get. All he can control is how he works, and I've really been excited about how he's gone about his business."
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The Eagles are primed to have Watkins and free agent signing Olamide Zaccheaus battle for the No. 3 wide receiver job in training camp. There's no seeking outside help at this time, allowing Watkins the opportunity to keep the job that was his last season.
Even though Watkins misjudged a good Hurts pass in practice, the Eagles quarterback also echos Sirianni's thoughts on his wideout. Good things appear to be in store for Watkins.
"Quez has been doing a really good job," Hurts said. "He's played a number of different positions for us. Quez is a guy that I came in with. I worked out with him before we both got drafted here. He tore it up on the scout team our rookie year, and so I have all the trust in him.
"He's hungry -- and he's used everything as fuel. I'm glad he's taken that approach and I'm excited to see the show he puts on this year."