According to ESPN’s Tim McManus, the Eagles will be without wide receiver DeSean Jackson for two weeks due to abdominal sprain. How will this impact the offense moving forward? Here’s all you need to know.
The timing of the injury is tough, given that the Eagles have three games in a two-week; window.
Week 3: @ Detroit
Week 4: TNF vs Packers
Week 5: @ Jets
For context, the Jets are now down to their QB3 =(although Darnold is hoping to return by that game)and are giving up an average of 7.6 yards per pass, the Lions are allowing over 280 passing yards per game, and the Packers will be the pesky meat in the sandwich acting as a revamped defense with a very young and hungry secondary. There are definitely worse stretches of games to lose your #2 receiver for, but it doesn’t make life any easier for an offense that can score in buckets but stutters in bulk.
Jackson was the heart and soul of the comeback win over Washington in week one, receiving for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns. He went from playing in 52 snaps in week one to just 11 on Sunday night, while JJ Arcega-Whiteside saw the field on the vast majority of snaps in his place.
We all know the matchup nightmare that JJAW possesses. At 6’3, 225 lbs, the rookie ran a 4.49 40-yard dash, the exact same result as Miles Sanders. The jump-ball specialist is more than just a big body in the red zone however.
According to Pro Football Focus, Arcega-Whiteside finished his final year with the Stanford Cardinal with a grade of 95.5 on targets that went beyond 10+ yards. On third-and-fourth-down pass attempts, JJ finished with a grade of 90.6 which was number one in the nation.
The problem was, he hasn’t had much time to gel with Carson Wentz. The face of the franchise has been working with the ones all offseason and understandably, Arcega-Whiteside spent most of camp clicking with Nate Sudfeld. This was reflected on Sunday, where he caught just one pass for four yards. Mike Groh spoke about how practice will look this week and reflected on the week 2 outing of his rookie wideout.
“he most extensive playing time that he’s seen obviously in the first two weeks, and he’s got plays that he did very well on, and there’s other plays that we come back, we look at and we try to make our corrections and grow from there.”
“I think it can only benefit [WR] J.J. [Arcega-Whiteside].” Mike Groh said on Tuesday. “He’s going to be taking, I would imagine, more of a primary role in practice. Until we know more about [WR] Alshon’s [Jeffery] status, I’m sure that will be ongoing throughout the week. Any reps that you get, particularly as a young player, are beneficial.”
Depending on Alshon Jeffery’s status, we may also see more of Mack Hollins. ‘Backpack Mack’ had a career-game on Sunday, registering a 50-yard outing and moving the sticks when called upon. But this, oddly, shouldn’t come as a surprise considering that the UNC product caught 81% of catchable passes as a rookie.
Hollins has special teams prowess, but he’s much more than just a deep-threat and after playing in 69 snaps last week, he could be primed for a bigger role without Jackson in the fray.
This week of practice will be crucial for the Eagles. Wentz has done a supreme job getting on the same page with all of the big receiving names, but now it’s the younger, hungry wideouts who will have to step up to the plate while Jackson heals. The Eagles offense should have more than enough ammunition to survive this battle. But when reinforcements arrive, will they win the war?