March 20, 2017
Now that wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has signed with the Philadelphia Eagles, maybe we should, you know, take a look at him. Below are all of Jeffery's targets in 2016, with notes posted thereafter:
• In 2016, Jeffery only had two touchdown receptions, which is a common thing pointed out by his detractors. However, after watching his targets, Jeffery was open for a touchdown reception six times, but the quarterback made an inaccurate throw. That does not include the times Jeffery may have been open in the end zone but the ball did not come his way. Additionally, he drew two pass interference calls either inside or right outside the end zone. Jeffery's red zone numbers are unimpressive, but he most certainly has a skill set that should translate to red zone effectiveness with the Eagles.
• His QBs were generally horrendous, especially Matt Barkley, as you'll see in the game against the Redskins. In addition to the poor quarterback play, there was no chance for Jeffery to get into a rhythm with any of his quarterbacks last season. The Bears went from Jay Cutler to Brian Hoyer to Barkley to Cutler to Barkley to David Fales. That's a lot of quarterback change during a season, and when you add in Jeffery's four-game suspension from Weeks 11-14, that makes it all the more difficult to develop chemistry.
The best part of Jeffery's season occurred when Cutler was the QB, with whom he had developed rapport with over the last few years. Once Cutler went down, Jeffery's season began to tail off as well.
• I've seen it stated that Jeffery only had one drop last season. That's wrong, as the video shows. I have him down for five drops and 52 catches. In a down season, that's still better than any of the Eagles' primary receivers last year, but certainly less than ideal.
• Jeffery doesn't break many tackles, but he doesn't give himself up either, and usually falls forward. His lanky frame usually picks up another 2-3 yards on the way down. He'll be effective (although not splashy) on run-pass options. He does a decent job slithering for first downs when he catches the ball near the sticks.
• Back shoulder / fly route 50-50 balls are his obvious strength, as the video shows. You can live with the occasional drop when a receiver makes big-time plays down the field like Jeffery will. His ability to high-point passes down the field is among the best in the NFL.
• He's really good at running slants too. He gets good position and gives the QB a huge target area with his large catch radius, widening the margin for error.
• Nasty stop and go move killed Jalen Ramsey and Jalen Mills.
• Good sideline awareness. He knows where he is on the field, and drags his feet (I can't believe I'm noting that as a positive, as everyone should do that).
• Comebacks are often gimmes because corners are mindful of the deep threat that Jeffery poses. He does a good job selling the deep ball, then coming back for the easy pitch and catch. Those easy throws are huge for young quarterbacks.
• Some routes are lazy. He'll round them off. I can't figure out if he's tired on those, or if he doesn't think the ball is coming his way. That probably needs full game viewing for better context.
• He holds the ball with one hand quite a bit after the catch, like LeSean McCoy used to when he played in Philly. Jeffery had no fumbles in 2016. He has four for his career. Someone is going to poke it out eventually when he does that.
• There were a few occasions in which he was unaware that the ball was coming. One ball hit him in the head downfield. He also had similar, less comical moments as well.
Conclusion: Even in what was considered perhaps his worst season, Jeffery does a lot of things really well in the video above, and is going to be a major contributor for the Eagles, provided he can stay healthy.
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