Alshon Jeffrey has proven to be a valuable weapon on Eagles offense.
By Dave Spadaro
Maybe you didn’t pay much attention to Alshon Jeffery back in 2013–2014 when he caught 174 passes and totaled 2,554 yards and 17 touchdowns for the Chicago Bears. And maybe you didn’t quite understand all the things Jeffery brought to the table when the Eagles signed him as an unrestricted free agent in 2017 and made him the team’s №1 wide receiver.
But we all are noticing now just how good Jeffery is for this Eagles offense. Plodding along for three games as this regular season opened, the offense gained a weapon that has taken the attack to a new level when Jeffery was cleared to play after rehabbing a torn rotator cuff that he injured during the Super Bowl run last season. In the three games he’s played, Jeffery has 18 receptions, 218 yards and three touchdowns, all of those scores in the red zone.
A difference-making receiver, Jeffery isn’t a classic “A” option in the passing game. He’s not super speedy, but Jeffery does have success making plays down the field. At 6 feet 3, 218 pounds, Jeffery creates separation from defensive backs because he’s got a big body and knows how to use it, impossibly long arms and the ability to box out like the basketball power forward Jeffery would love to be.
Jeffery takes the Eagles’ offense to the next level because he has a chance to go up and get any pass quarterback Carson Wentz throws in his vicinity and he crushes defenses in the red zone.
“He’s a matchup nightmare,” wide receiver Nelson Agholor said of Jeffery. “He’s too big to cover. He covers too much ground. You can’t go up with him because he’ll just snatch it out of the air.”
The Eagles got their NFC East schedule off on the right foot last Thursday with a 34–13 win over the sickly New York Giants to establish themselves as the team to beat in the division. More than that, the Eagles offense showed its first sustained explosiveness, largely because Jeffery was unstoppable with eight receptions for 74 yards and two touchdowns. It was the Best Of Jeffery as he worked the back of the end zone to get free as Wentz bought time scrambling and then grabbed Wentz’s laser throw for the Eagles’ first touchdown, and then Jeffery put the Eagles ahead 31–7 when he went in motion and caught a Wentz pass at the line of scrimmage and stepped into the end zone from the 1-yard line for his sixth touchdown in his most recent five games.
Jeffery is hot. Feed the beast, even if he defies the personality associated with most NFL high-end receivers — the “Diva Effect.” Jeffery is as humble and soft-spoken as they come.
“I don’t look at numbers. It’s not about me,” Jeffery said. “We’re all here to win games, and that’s what it’s all about.”
For the Eagles to make a deep playoff run, they need Jeffery to be a star. They need a week-in, week-out receiving threat who is going to put fear into opposing defenses. Jeffery is the closest player the Eagles have to that description. Is Jeffery up to the task?
“He’s a great player and I know that if I do my job and get the ball to him, he’s going to make plays,” Wentz said. “We know how important he is to our offense. We need to get him the football.” ••