Since returning to the Eagles’ lineup two weeks ago, Alshon Jeffery has played 23 snaps. He’s been targeted three times and doesn’t have a catch. One of those targets was a dropped pass and another resulted in an interception after he mistimed a jump.
Jeffery is 30 years old. He’s not in the future plans of the organization. And bad things happen when the Eagles throw to him.
Yet Doug Pederson is still committed to playing him. Not only that, but after each of the last two weeks, Pederson has actually said they need to get Jeffery on the field more!
This is crazy!
Against the Giants, Jeffery played 18 snaps. He was targeted on the first drive of the game after he went on the field in favor of Travis Fulgham. The pass was incomplete and he wasn’t targeted again.
Here was Pederson the next day: “I think moving forward, we know that Alshon is healthy and he's going, and I know his play time will increase probably each week. It's something that as we construct game plans, who is going to be in, who is going to be out.”
Against the Browns, Jeffery played just five snaps. But he was targeted twice. One he dropped and the other he couldn’t even get close enough to drop. With 2:07 left in the fourth quarter, Carson Wentz tried to throw up a pass to Jeffery, who jumped about three full seconds too early and it was picked off. But why even have him on the field in that crucial situation? Why even allow a chance for that ball to go to him?
Then here was Pederson the next day: “He is coming off injury, and we do have to get him in the game a little bit more. You know, that's, again, on me to get him in the football game, and also (John) Hightower at the same time.”
As I wrote earlier this week, the Eagles have a loyalty problem. It’s obvious in their handling of Jason Peters, who is still their left tackle. And it might be even more obvious in their handling of Jeffery.
Pederson’s answer about Jeffery during Monday’s press conference confirmed all that:
“Well, right now he is a part of the offense. He's a part of what we've done and the success we've had here."
No one is arguing that Jeffery, at one point, was a huge part of the Eagles’ offense. No one will ever take away those accomplishments. Simply put, the Eagles don’t win the first Super Bowl in franchise history without Jeffery. But it’s not 2017 anymore.
In 2020, the Eagles have a 3-6-1 record and aren’t going to be in first place in this miserable division for very much longer. Leaving aside all the speculation about Jeffery’s fit in the locker room, it just doesn’t make football sense to have him on the field anymore. And if Howie Roseman hadn’t foolishly guaranteed Jeffery’s salary for this season, he’s probably not even here anymore.
The downside to playing Jeffery — aside from the fact that it’s not helping — is that it’s also keeping younger players off the field. No, Jeffery’s presence hasn’t cut into Fulgham’s or Jalen Reagor’s snaps very much, but it has affected Hightower’s snaps and it will keep Quez Watkins and J.J. Arecega-Whiteside inactive.
That’s not to say that Hightower was performing all that well earlier this season — he wasn’t. But the Eagles took him in the fifth round and played him a ton for a reason. They clearly think there’s something there.
Earlier this season, the Eagles thought enough of Hightower to give him more snaps than any other receiver for three straight weeks, against the Bengals, 49ers and Steelers. Obviously, the Eagles have gotten healthier since then, but how can Hightower go from that workload to playing just four snaps combined since the bye week?
The Eagles were actually better off with Jeffery taking up a roster spot earlier this season than they are with him healthy taking snaps from younger players.
The weird thing is, even if Jeffery were playing well, what’s the upside? And, let’s point out: He’s not playing well. It’s complete lunacy to keep putting him out there over guys who still might have futures here.
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