Alshon Jeffery has been sent to IR today with a Lisfranc injury. This in itself is disappointing and depending on the extent of the injury, could well be one that lingers into the depths of the 2020 season. The more immediate takeaway, however, is that although the group is depleted, there is a silver lining.
As things stand, the Eagles are likely going to be without their starting trio of wide receivers. 2019 has been nothing short of disappointing for anyone lining up outside, and in any other situation, losing your #WR1 to a season-ending injury would put the nail in the coffin. But instead, this may be the beginning of a rise from the ashes.
Promoted in Alshon’s place was wide receiver Robert Davis – who believe it or not, fits a very familiar mold.
The 6’3, 210 lbs, receiver was selected in the sixth-round by the Redskins back in 2017 and has one reception for 11-yards in 4 appearances. In 2018, he suffered a torn ACL and a broken leg that would rip the entire season away from him.
It would be the Eagles who eventually came knocking, poaching him from Washington’s grasp one year later. Davis ended his career at Georgia State with 222 receptions and 3,391 receiving yards, which were both school records for a relatively new program.
He runs a 4.44 40-yard dash and has a 41-inch vertical. Having spent the season on the practice squad, he could be an under-the-radar addition that could potentially provide a positive spark due to his size, strength, and speed.
The last speedster on the roster, Davis will likely fit the WR2 role once left by DeSean Jackson, while JJ Arcega-Whiteside can continue to develop in the same style as Alshon Jeffery. In the slot, it’ll be Greg Ward Jr. who replaced Agholor if the USC product is unable to go.
This trio of young wideouts are now faced with a very unique opportunity. They may not have the star-power of ‘D.N.A’ (that lasted a while), but they’re all built in similar molds and should enable the Eagles to run the same offense they have all year without a need for major adjustment.
When you factor in the age of DeSean Jackson, Nelson Agholor’s likely departure, and the white-noise surrounding Alshon Jeffery, there is frankly no better time to steal the show and prove to the Eagles coaching staff that there is life after all of these receivers. Be it as future backups, or future starters.
Greg Ward Jr. played a vital role in Monday night’s win, but it was Arcega-Whiteside’s eyebrow-raisingly impressive ball-tracking that stole the spotlight.
“I’m glad you mentioned J.J. He made a couple of really good plays for us the other night particularly down the sideline that one late in the game.” Offensive coordinator Mike Groh responded when asked about his rookie wideout. “And he’s really come on and we’ve got good production out of him. You can see him getting more and more comfortable. But there’s another guy that he had to play — went from one position to another right at the flip of a switch in the middle of the game. And I thought he did a really nice job for us.
Again credit to him. Credit to Carson Walch, his position coach, and all the work they’ve done this season to get him prepared for something like that and anticipate. And now it’s, hey look here’s a guy now he’s made some plays. It’s not like he’s wondering, hey can I do this? He’s been out there and made plays. That helps his confidence. It helps Carson’s confidence in him to look for him and then obviously like we were talking about with Boston, it’s, hey, look these guys made some plays, he earns an opportunity for a few more plays. It just kind of goes in that cycle.”
The Eagles control their playoff destiny and if a group of hungry young receivers can help drag the Eagles over the line, then it will do wonders for their future stock on the roster. We know JJAW isn’t going anywhere, but if Greg Ward can ensure he isn’t on the bubble for a fourth year in a row, and Robert Davis can finally put a torn ACL behind him, then maybe the Eagles won’t need to invest as many assets into the position this offseason as we all currently expect.
Mandatory Credit: Rich Barnes-USA TODAY Sports