The Eagles offense has been soaring high above the rest of the NFL this season. The optionality at skill positions and newly acquired running identity has seen Doug Pederson’s team simply dominate any defense that tries to stand in their way. But through all the breakouts, touchdowns and highlights, the journey of Alshon Jeffery has remained under the microscope…that was until two weeks ago.
Jeffery registered a 53-yard touchdown against the Niners in the third quarter to help give the Eagles a 27-7 lead, his first since the win over the Chargers and his longest since a a career-long 80-yard TD on back in December 2013 against the Vikings. The Eagles wideout then went on to record his second 2-point conversion of the season. Silencing the doubters, Jeffery amassed 62-yards that game, proving he can do much more than just open the offense.
“I think we can just keep getting better.” Said Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz. “At the end of the day, Alshon is kind of every week. First of all, he’s unselfish. Second of all, even on the weeks he’s not getting the ball, he’s drawing attention, drawing the best corner and clouding safeties. With Alshon and Jay now, and the way we can spread the ball around, I think that will make us even more dynamic moving forward.”
Jeffery followed up his big outing one week later, receiving for a team leading 84 yards and 2 touchdowns. This would mark his 4th career multi-touchdown performance, his second of the season. In fact, the former Chicago Bear has now caught a touchdown in back-to-back games for the first time since December 2015. What’s more impressive, is the mentality behind the season.
“Most definitely, but just take what the defense gives us.” Jeffery said after the win over Denver. “I mean some games, it’s going to be big plays, some games it’s not. But at the same time, I take those big plays and as long as we win, it doesn’t matter.”
Through the opening five weeks of the season, the only wide receiver in the entire league to be matched up against more top-25 corners than Jeffery was Dez Bryant. Nearly 50% of passes that went in Jeffery’ direction were against top-25 rated corners. When Jeffery does get an opportunity to wreak havoc, he does. There have been flurries of big catches in clutch situations that only number one wideouts could make…and the last two weeks have been evidence of that.
The Eagles offense has opened up tremendously since the arrival of Jeffery. Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz have amassed a total of 11 touchdowns already this season as well as 956 yards. Mack Hollins caught an unsuspecting Defense off-guard for a 64-yard score on a Monday night win and the ball is being spread around more than we have ever seen before in Philadelphia, with six receivers having more than 100 yards on the year.
Week 11 will see the Eagles lock horns with their fiercest rivals, the Dallas Cowboys. A team that rank 26th in takeaways and have had recurring cornerback problems throughout the year. With this game being metaphorically circled after last year’s heartbreaking loss, there may be no better time for Jeffery to hit his stride and click with Carson Wentz.
Chemistry takes time. Just ask Zach Ertz who has had anything but a sense of sustenance at quarterback since entering the NFL. As Jeffery begins to really heat up and synchronize with his quarterback…the effects can be lethal.
As Defenses now begin to account for the likes of Nelson Agholor and Zach Ertz, who repeatedly punish defenses, the danger Jeffery brings to the table is amplified. The Eagles are an incredibly unselfish group. An understanding that if Jeffery is unable to dominate, then Ertz or one of the other wideouts will is what has largely fueled their dominance through the air. Unselfishness and a belief in the process of development and unison could send the Eagles all the way to the promised land…but a sense of humility ensures their feet remain firmly on the ground.
“Just staying in the moment. Just keep working.” Said Jeffery. “Just stay focused. Just staying on top. This is the brotherhood. Just keeping everyone on track.”
Mandatory Credit: Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports