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Regardless of numbers, Alshon Jeffery a legit No. 1 WR

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Regardless of numbers, Alshon Jeffery a legit No. 1 WR

Alshon Jeffery is a No. 1 wide receiver, and now that he’s under contract with the Eagles through 2021, don’t let anybody try to tell you different.

From a pure production standpoint, Jeffery’s Eagles tenure admittedly got off to a slow start. Seven games into a one-year deal, the longtime Bears star had 26 receptions for 354 yards — an average of 3.7 for 50.6 per game — with two touchdowns. The numbers hardly lived up to the hype, or some of the more modest expectations for that matter.

Even now, Jeffery is not on pace to finish with 1,000 yards this season, while less than 50 percent of his targets (48.3%) have gone for receptions. It’s certainly atypical of a so-called feature receiver who just signed a four-year extension worth $52 million, $27 million guaranteed.

Those statistics also ignore the way Jeffery has performed of late. Whether it’s because he was new in the offense, needed time to build a rapport with quarterback Carson Wentz, or opposing defenses are taking their chances and rolling coverages elsewhere, Jeffery is beginning to fill up the box score with regularity.

In the Eagles’ last four games, Jeffery has 17 receptions for 265 yards with five touchdowns. Extrapolate his current run over a 16-game season, and he would finish with 68 catches, 1,060 yards and 20 trips to end zone.

This may be just the tip of the iceberg for Jeffery. Or, it could be that he’s finally realizing his potential.

Either way, Jeffery looks increasingly like the No. 1 wideout that he truly is.

At this point, any criticism of Jeffery’s No. 1 credentials may boil down to expectations. He’s not necessarily going to catch 80-plus passes, as he did twice in Chicago, or rack up 1,400 yards receiving as he did in his 2013 Pro Bowl campaign. Nor do the Eagles require that type of volume, with tight end Zach Ertz playing a huge role in the passing attack and one of the NFL’s best running games.

Where Jeffery has shined, however, is finding the end zone. With seven receiving touchdowns — tied for fifth in the league — and five games remaining, he could easily reach double digits for the second time in his six-year career. Wentz has overthrown his favorite target on multiple occasions as well, robbing Jeffery of the chance to have 10 already.

Five of Jeffery’s seven scores have been inside the red zone, and give him three two-point conversions as well. He’s 6-foot-3, 218 pounds and plays like every bit of it when the field shortens.

But even when Jeffery hasn’t made an outsized impact on the stat sheet, his presence is still felt. One look at the tape will show the respect defenses have for the 27-year-old wideout. He dictates coverages, creating opportunities for Ertz and Nelson Agholor in the slot — it’s no coincidence both players are enjoying career years.

Jeffery does everything a bona fide No. 1 does. He produces. He's a beast in the red zone. He catches 50/50 balls. He draws the attention of the defense. He blocks. The only thing Jeffery doesn't do it seems is complain when he doesn't get his numbers.

In terms of both the total of the new deal, Jeffery's contract currently ranks eighth among all wide receivers. At $13 million annually, the deal is seventh, and the guaranteed money is fifth. It is expensive.

Although, Jeffery will be just 31 in the final year of this contract, and he's only now beginning to find his groove with Wentz. It's entirely possible the best is yet to come.

Even if it's not, and Jeffery is the same player we've seen through 11 games, the Eagles locked up a legitimate No. 1 receiver for the foreseeable future, through his prime, at the going rate. That's nothing to complain about.

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

Updated at 12:50 a.m.

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 reacted on both sides of the issue, some still asking for an apology and others taking Redick for his word. 

On Sunday night, Redick followed up with a longer statement on his Twitter and Instagram, where he further explained himself and indeed issued an apology.

Please read. Thank you.

A post shared by JJ Redick (@jjredick) on

Early Monday, Brooklyn Nets guard Jeremy Lin tweeted a statement saying that he spoke with Redick and believes the Sixers' guard didn't say a racial slur.

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.