Eagles

Alshon Jeffery, Carson Wentz finally connecting on '80-20' balls

usa-alshon-jeffery.jpg
USA Today Images

Alshon Jeffery, Carson Wentz finally connecting on '80-20' balls

Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery finally connected on a 50-50 ball on Sunday against the 49ers. 

Only Jeffery doesn't like the term 50-50. 

He calls them 80-20 balls. 

"Eighty percent chance I'm gonna catch it," Jeffery said. "Twenty percent chance it's going to be incomplete."

Where did that expression come from? 

"That's something I pride myself on," he answered. "That's what I live on." 

This season has been somewhat disappointing for Jeffery from a statistical standpoint. He's on pace for just 832 yards receiving, but he hasn't caused a fuss or demanded the football more. He's been a pro. 

So the team was pretty happy to see him come down with the ball over a defender and force his way into the end zone for a 53-yard score in the third quarter on Sunday 

"Just have patience," Jeffery said. "Good things come to those who wait. I'll just continue to be patient and just keep working. We're 7-1, just have to keep going."

For the first half of the season, it has seemed at times like Wentz and Jeffery haven't been clicking fully. A lot of Jeffery's game is dependent upon chemistry with his quarterback and these two didn't have a ton of time together before the season started. 

Those 50-50 balls (or 80-20 balls) take a level of trust from the quarterback. He has to be willing to take a calculated risk of throwing an interception because he trusts his receiver won't let that happen. 

Maybe we'll start seeing more of these types of passes. 

"Just let him play his game, I'm going to keep playing my game," Jeffery said. "I'm going to keep working. If it happens that he's throwing it up, giving me a chance, so be it. Hopefully, it'll work out like it did last time. At the end of the day, we just want to stick to our game plan and keep working." 

From the time Jeffery arrived in the spring, everyone was eager to talk about his catch radius — the idea that he could catch the ball anywhere around him and even when he wasn't open, he was open. 

His former head coach Adam Gase even said Jeffery was the only player he's ever coached that allowed him to tell his quarterback to just throw it up regardless of coverage (see story). He was confident Jeffery would come down with it. 

On Wednesday, Wentz said that because of Jeffery's size and ball skills, they're going to give him those types of shots to come down with the ball from time to time. 

"The second we got Alshon this offseason, I was like, there are going to be times where that's the case. Give him a shot, let him make a play," Wentz said. "And it was great to see that finally come out Sunday and we expect more of those. They call it a 50-50 ball and we think it's higher odds that Alshon is going to come down with the ball."

Maybe they're even as high as 80-20.

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

Eagles-Saints NFL Week 11 predictions

The Eagles (4-5) are coming off a tough loss to the rival Cowboys on Sunday Night Football and now they have to travel to New Orleans to face the Saints (8-1). 

The Eagles opened as nine-point underdogs. It was the first time they opened as underdogs all season. 

To the predictions: 

Reuben Frank (5-4) 
Maybe I’m crazy. This one looks so lopsided, looks unwinnable, looks like a completely lost cause. Heck, I can’t even figure out how the Eagles are going to keep things close Sunday against the Saints. But the NFL is weird. It seems like so often when everybody in the universe is convinced a game is going to go one way, it goes the other way. I’m banking on there being enough pride left in a team that just nine months ago won a Super Bowl to stand toe to toe with the 8-1 Saints and get out of the Superdome with a win. I don’t know how. 

The Saints don’t have a great defense. They don’t need a great defense, but maybe the Eagles’ offense suddenly solves its red-zone issues. Maybe Doug Pederson magically recalls his 2017 play-calling touch. Maybe the defense makes up for the last two months and forces a few turnovers. Maybe a few balls bounce funny and right into somebody’s hands. Maybe the Eagles simply outscore the Saints, who are allowing nearly 27 points per game. I know one thing. As long as No. 11 is out there, the Eagles have a chance. This team rarely gets blown out, and I don’t think it will Sunday. It’s just a matter of whether the offense can get untracked. I say yes. I say Eagles over Saints. No, really.

Eagles 43, Saints 37 

Dave Zangaro (2-7)
Drew Brees has been playing so well and the Saints seem pretty much unstoppable. They’re averaging over 36 points per game and I don’t know how the Eagles are going to stop them or keep up. The Eagles are without Ronald Darby and Jalen Mills and Rodney McLeod. Having Sidney Jones back will help, but it won’t solve the problem. 

If the Eagles were to somehow pull off a win, they would need to play an almost perfect game. Carson Wentz will need to guide them to the best offensive performance we’ve seen from the Eagles all year. I’m not saying there’s no chance the Eagles win; I just don’t see it happening. 

Saints 35, Eagles 27

Derrick Gunn (3-6) 
It's bad enough the Eagles gave one away to Dallas, but now they hit the road to face the hottest team in the league. Brees is playing out of his mind right now with a 77.3 completion percentage, 21 touchdowns, one interception, and has been sacked just nine times. Nobody sees the field better than he does.

The Eagles’ banged-up secondary has to find a way to control Saints WR Michael Thomas, and the front seven’s task is to keep the backfield duo of Alvin Kamara (4.4 ypc) and Mark Ingram (4.5 ypc) from running over it the way Ezekiel Elliott did. Also, the Eagles’ D could use a few turnovers to go its way; it has forced only seven this season, and the Saints don’t give the ball away often.

Pederson said his offense is not that far off numbers-wise from where it was a season ago. That may be true but having scored more than 24 points in a game only once this year is unsettling. Wentz must find a way to get this offense moving, and fast. The Birds’ offense is 17th in red-zone efficiency (55.9 percent) and converts on 41.2 percent of third-down situations. 

I’ve looked at this matchup from every possible angle trying to find a ray of hope for the Eagles, but because of their injuries, inconsistencies and the team they’re playing, it doesn’t look good. 

Saints 37, Eagles 21

Ray Didinger (4-5) 
Crazy things happen in the NFL. Let me take you back to December 2015. The Eagles were coming off a humiliating 45-14 loss in Detroit. Jeff Lurie was about to pull the plug on Chip Kelly. The franchise was in ruins. So what happens? The Eagles go to Foxboro and knock off the defending Super Bowl champion Patriots, 35-28. Who saw that coming?

So is it possible the Eagles could go to New Orleans on Sunday and cool off the 8-1 Saints? Look, if Sam Bradford can beat Tom Brady, it is certainly possible Wentz can beat Brees. The Saints lost at home to Tampa Bay and Ryan Fitzpatrick earlier this season, so it's not like it can't happen. Of course the Bucs had to score 48 points to do it, so good luck with that, Pederson.

The Eagles are underdogs — nine points this time — and they seem to like that role but the matchup of a red-hot Brees and the Eagles' patchwork secondary is downright scary. Yeah, any given Sunday and all that jazz, but I'm not feeling it this week.

Saints 35, Eagles 24  

Andrew Kulp (4-5) 
I don't think it's a question of whether the Eagles are going to lose, but by how much. With all the injuries, they appear to be completely outclassed by the Saints, who look like the best team — or at least the hottest team — in the NFL right now.

Brees should absolutely dissect this secondary, and while the Eagles could score some points, they haven't demonstrated the ability to do so with any consistency. This could get ugly.

Saints 34, Eagles 20

Corey Seidman (3-6) 
The NFL is a week-to-week league. Losing to a mediocre team one week does not mean you're going to get blown out by a good team the next.

I think the Eagles' offense wakes up in a big way in this game and it ultimately falls just short against a Saints offense that can do whatever it wants.

This is the best Saints offense we've seen Brees engineer. Kamara runs precise routes and catches everything. Thomas runs even more precise routes and catches everything. Taysom Hill makes the Saints borderline unstoppable on a 3rd-and-3 or shorter.

Saints 36, Eagles 33

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

Eagles will wait 1 more week to get Tim Jernigan back

The Eagles won’t have Tim Jernigan for this weekend’s game in New Orleans. 

Even though Jernigan has been practicing for two weeks and has been rotating in with the starters, the Eagles are going to give him another week to get ready. If Jernigan was going to play this weekend, he needed to be activated by 4 p.m. Saturday. That deadline has passed. 

During the past week, head coach Doug Pederson said twice (most recently on Friday) that he was optimistic Jernigan would be able to play against the Saints. 

The lack of a move with Jernigan was signaled early on Saturday, when the Eagles put Ronald Darby on IR and brought up De’Vante Bausby. And on Friday, they activated Richard Rodgers to the 53-man roster. 

Because Jernigan is still on the non-football injury list after offseason back surgery, the Eagles weren’t required to put him on their injury report this week and didn’t need to give an official game status for him. 

Jernigan was cleared to return to practice on Nov. 5, which started a 21-day practice window. By the end of that window, the Eagles must decide to either activate Jernigan to the 53-man roster or shut him down for the year. That window will end next Saturday, so the Eagles will likely have him for next week's game. 

The fact that he was even close to returning this week makes it seem like he will return this year. That will be a boost for the Eagles, but it might also be too little too late. 

The Eagles have really missed Jernigan this season and they’ll probably miss him again this weekend. Haloti Ngata (knee) enters the weekend listed as questionable. If he can’t play, they’re down to either Treyvon Hester or T.Y. McGill next to Fletcher Cox. In fact, that spot next to Cox has probably been one of the weakest starting positions on the depth chart this year. 

For a long time, there were serious questions about whether or not Jernigan would be able to return at all this season. His injury still has plenty of mystery surrounding it. It seems like he’s getting close, though. Maybe next week.

Click here to download the new MyTeams App by NBC Sports! Receive comprehensive coverage of your teams and stream the Flyers, Sixers and Phillies games easily on your device.

More on the Eagles