Instant analysis: Pressure will mount on Eagles offense with Alshon Jeffery sidelined for 2+ weeks

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According to a report from ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Eagles could be preparing for life without Alshon Jeffery, for two weeks at least.

If true, Jeffery would miss the season opener against the Falcons and a week 2 clash against Tampa Bay, returning to face the Colts in week 3. So what does this mean for Jeffery and the rest of the team?

 

The real impact:
The 6’3″, 218-pound receiver had a huge impact on the Eagles in 2017. During his first year in midnight green, he hauled in 9 touchdown receptions to go with 789 receiving yards, before adding another 219 yards during three playoff games. While the numbers don’t jump off the screen as ‘elite, Jeffery’s presence alone helped open up a completely new world of opportunity for the offense.

Without Jeffery in the lineup, the Eagles may struggle to spread the field as easily as they did last year and for the starting quarterback, who will likely be Nick Foles, missing your safety blanket who is so lethal when it comes to 50/50 balls is going to undoubtedly sting Pederson’s scheme.

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Next man up:
With Jeffery missing, the ‘next man up’ mentality will be more important than ever. The problem is that Mike Wallace hasn’t had the most active offseason ever and both Mack Hollins and Nelson Agholor have sustained injuries during the Summer that sidelined them for short period. Instead, someone like Shelton Gibson could suddenly see a huge increase in playing time as the Eagles rotate their receiving corps in order to create the same mismatches that Jeffery was able to create on his own. Perhaps the height of Hollins, speed of Gibson and catch radius of Wallace could substitute for Jeffery’s absence from a receiving perspective, but only time will tell.

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The other areas:
This will of course place a huge area of focus on the tight end group. Led by Zach Ertz, who cemented himself as one of the league’s elite receiving tight ends with an 824 yard, 8 touchdown season, the likes of rookie Dallas Goedert and veteran Richard Rodgers will be called upon.

This isn’t the first time the Eagles have been without a true number one wideout. Let’s not forget Pederson’s first season as a Head Coach, where his most explosive receiver came out of the slot and his most impactful playmaker was a tight end, supported by an ‘X-factor’ that nobody accounts for. We could see a very similar scenario to start the season, only Jordan Matthews has been replaced with Nelson Agholor and Trey Burton has been replaced with Dallas Goedert.

The strain on the running backs will also be felt. If Foles is the starter anyway, the focus on dominating on the ground will be paramount. If you subtract Jeffery from that equation, the coaches will be relying on versatility from the likes of Clement and Sproles to still bring that unpredictability to the offense.

 

This isn’t the dream start that the Eagles wanted, but it’s not the first time they’ve overcome adversity and it probably won’t be the last. If there’s ever a time for the ‘next man up’ mentality to take over, it’s now.

 

 

Mandatory Credit: John David Mercer-USA TODAY Sports

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