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Eagles Film Review: Alshon Jeffery's hidden impact

Eagles Film Review: Alshon Jeffery's hidden impact

Through four games, Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has 17 receptions for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. That puts him on pace to finish 2017 with 68 receptions, 860 yards and 8 touchdowns.

That’s good – but is it $9.5-million-per-year good?

That’s the amount the Eagles agreed to pay Jeffery in March, and while it was only a one-year contract, we’re a quarter of the way through the season, and there’s a sense we may be no closer to knowing whether he was worth it. That figure doesn’t even include incentives, of which he’s currently on pace to earn another $400,000.

Ten million dollars for good-not-great production. Of course, there’s more to a player’s value than statistics.

Jeffery may not be busting out of the box score on a weekly basis, but he’s doing a heck of a lot more damage than the numbers suggest. Look no further than what the presence of a true No. 1 receiver has done for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

“It’s benefited (Ertz) tremendously,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday. “He’s getting a little more of the one-on-one stuff. You’re not seeing the combo coverages necessarily on Zach until you get in the red zone area.

“Having Alshon on the outside, on the perimeter, has really allowed him to have better one-on-one matchups. He does a great job with that, and a good route-runner – obviously, it’s really helped him.”

Ertz is currently tied for fourth in the NFL with 26 receptions and ranks sixth with 326 receiving yards. The fifth-year player is off to the by far best start of his career, and it is absolutely thanks in part to Jeffery.

Look at Ertz’s 38-yard catch against the Chargers in Week 4. Jeffery is at the top of the screen in a twin-receiver set with Nelson Agholor, with two tight ends bunched at the bottom. Right away, you can see the single-high safety is shaded to the receiver-side of the field – he’s on the right hash mark, and the ball is being snapped on the left.

But with Jeffery and Agholor running shallow crosses, Ertz is really who the deep safety needs to be worried about.

Further compounding the matter for the Chargers, Brent Celek’s route to the sideline is going to draw the defensive back, leaving a linebacker stuck on Ertz down the field.

The defense winds up with five players looking at Jeffery and Agholor, a defensive back on 32-year-old Celek – and Ertz soon to be all alone. It’s a nice play-design all-around, but the lack of safety help over the top is what allows this to go for a huge gain.

These plays rarely happened in 2016 because the Eagles didn’t have a legitimate big-play threat on the outside. Jordan Matthews was the best wide receiver on the team, and he lined up primarily in the slot. That made life easy on defenses, which could focus all of the attention on the middle of the field, where Ertz does the bulk of his work.

“It spreads people out,” Pederson said. “Defensively, you’re worried about a couple of guys, not just one or an area of the field. “

It’s not just Ertz that’s benefiting, either. Agholor pulled in a 36-yard reception on a similar look in the first quarter, and Torrey Smith would’ve had a big play, too, if he could only hold on to the football.

Jeffery may not have the pure numbers to justify his salary, but there’s no question he’s making a difference. Plus, in addition to drawing safety help to his side of the field, Jeffery has often drawn the defense’s No. 1 cornerback as well – Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins and Casey Heyward thus far.

“That’s part of it,” Pederson said. “Any time you put their top defender against your top receiver, I don’t want to say it eliminates the field, but it definitely draws your attention to other areas. They can be part of the – I don’t want to say a problem – but it can be a part of the lack of targets and things like that because it’s a solid matchup.

“You’re not going to sit there and try to shove sand when you don’t need to. You still have a tight end and a couple other receivers and the run game that you can work.”

In other words, when the Cardinals have Patrick Peterson locked on Jeffery all day this Sunday (see 5 matchups to watch), don’t be surprised when the Eagles target Ertz or look to their other options instead.

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

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SB Nation/Twitter

JJ Redick responds to video in which he allegedly used racial slur

Early Sunday, a video surfaced on social media that appeared to put Sixers’ guard JJ Redick in an extremely poor light. Redick has since responded to clear up the situation.

Here’s what happened:

At about 8 a.m., a post appeared on Reddit showing a screenshot and caption alleging that Redick said a racial slur during a video from NBA players wishing Chinese fans a Happy New Year. The video caused a huge uproar on social media. If you wish to see the video, it is located here, at the top.

On the surface, without a response, it looked odd from the start. Redick, who we have come to know as a well-spoken individual who is typically very appreciative of basketball fans, isn’t someone you’d expect this from, let alone with a camera pointing directly at his face with an NBA microphone in front of his lips.

He offered this response on his official Twitter account, saying he was tongue-tied and had no intentions of saying what he did on the video.

Fans have reacted on both sides of the issue, as some are still asking for an apology and others take Redick for his word. 

With the All-Star Break going on, Redick won’t be available for a few more days for the media to ask him about this. There’s a chance this story will continue into next week.

The Process is ready for primetime

The Process is ready for primetime

Basically, you saw everything you'd want to see from Ben Simmons, Dario Saric and Joel Embiid during the Rising Stars Challenge on All-Star Friday night, as they kept doing what they've basically done all February: winning. 

Ben Simmons was electric all over the court, ending with 11 points (5-5 FG, mostly dunks), six boards, a game-high 13 assists and a team-high four steals. A still-locked-in Dario Saric was the beneficiary of a handful of those dimes, ending with 18 points (7-11 FG, 4-7 3PT), three boards and five assists. 

Joel Embiid had an underwhelming stat line in his thankfully clipped playing time (just eight minutes after sitting out Wednesday's game — we'll see him more on Sunday), ending with just five points and two boards, and not exactly displaying the defensive dominance we're accustomed to from our big man. But the five points came on back-to-back possessions in the third, where JoJo nailed a top-of-the-break three and then scored on a dunk following a Fultzian spin move to the basket, showing the range of his skills in an appropriately breathtaking (and Internet-slaying) manner. 

And of course, the Sixers — I mean, Team World — won handily, outscoring Team USA in every quarter and ultimately triumphing 155-124. Even though Sacramento's Bogdan Bogdanovic took home MVP honors on the night for his white-hot shooting night (26 points on 9-16 FG, including a handful of Steph Curry-esque extended pull-up triples), I thought Simmons was the best all-around player on the floor, another thumb in the eye of the All-Star committee that snubbed him (four times!) for the proper game on Sunday night. 

Perhaps more importantly, the Sixers' presence just dominated the game altogether. Hell, they made up 3/5 of Team World's starting lineup — no other team had more than two representatives, across both squads, though the Lakers would have were Lonzo Ball available — and in the broadcast booth, the TNT guys couldn't stop talking about Embiid all night, comparing him to Hakeem and debating whether they'd ever seen a big man of his versatility before. 

And to think, this year they'll actually be represented on Saturday and Sunday, too. Hopefully Ben and Dario get a nice, relaxing All-Star break from here — they've certainly earned it — and now, it's Embiid's spotlight. The Process is ready for primetime, baby, and longtime Trusters should make sure to enjoy this moment as much as JoJo himself undoubtedly will.