Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make huge difference, but it'll take time

Eagles WR Alshon Jeffery will make huge difference, but it'll take time

Alshon Jeffery has finally been cleared for contact. The next step for him is becoming the Alshon Jeffery we saw in 2017.

That could take a while.

“There’s going to be obviously a progression with him,” Doug Pederson said Wednesday. “I don’t think it’ll be instantaneous. But at the same time, the more comfortable he gets, the better he becomes.”

Pederson said no decision has been made whether Jeffery will play Sunday against the Titans in Nashville, although it’s hard to imagine he won’t barring a setback.

Jeffery missed the first three games of the season while rehabbing following February shoulder surgery.

When healthy, he’s a huge weapon. With his size, he’s almost unstoppable in the red zone. With his wingspan, he has the ability to soar above cornerbacks and make difficult catches. And with his experience, he gives an offense that’s been shaky instant credibility.

“It definitely gives us offensively a shot in the arm,” Pederson said. “He can become a big impact, quite honestly. … He makes a huge difference for us.

“He becomes a target defensively, as you saw in some of the games last year, where he was doubled a lot, especially in the red zone."

Jeffery played way better than his numbers last year.

He caught 57 passes for 789 yards but scored nine touchdowns, then was huge in the postseason, with 12 catches for 219 yards and three more TDs, including an acrobatic 34-yarder from Nick Foles in the Super Bowl.

What makes his performance even more remarkable is that he played late in the season and through the playoffs with a shoulder injury that required surgery.

How big is getting him back?

Mike Wallace, Kamar Aiken, DeAndre Carter, Shelton Gibson, Markus Wheaton and Jordan Matthews have played a combined 327 snaps and have eight catches for 70 yards.

A healthy Jeffery commands double teams and takes pressure off Zach Ertz and Nelson Agholor, who have more than half the Eagles’ catches so far (41 of 80) and are the only Eagles with more than eight receptions.

“If he’s doubled, it obviously leaves them singled, and that helps them right there,” Pederson said.

“But I think just having those three guys together, kind of feeding off one another, route combinations, understanding concepts, helps Nelly, helps Zach and really helps Alshon.”

One by one, the pieces of the Super Bowl run are returning.

Carson Wentz will make his second start Sunday against the Titans, and there’s a chance Jay Ajayi will be back as well.

That would mean everybody from the Super Bowl receiving crew is back, minus Torrey Smith and Trey Burton but plus Dallas Goedert and Matthews and perhaps Darren Sproles.

The next step is getting all these new pieces to work seamlessly together.

That could take a while.

“Finally get our quarterback back, we’ve had some injuries at the running back position, receiver, so just getting some continuity and some flow with that group, getting them to play together, is something that in these next few weeks will be important for us,” Pederson said.

“Listen, we’re not going to pick up where we were at the end of the season last year. It takes a little time.

“I’m excited about it because really the sky’s the limit with the group and they begin to work that chemistry out at practice and in the games.”

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Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

Eagle Eye podcast: What Jason Peters move means for Andre Dillard, plus much more

On the latest Eagle Eye podcast, Reuben Frank and Barrett Brooks take a long look at the Eagles’ decision to bring back Jason Peters.

They get into what the move means for Andre Dillard, whether Peters will ultimately end up back at left tackle, how long J.P. might be able to extend his career if he stays at guard, how long it will take him to adjust to a new position and and much more. 

They also looked at defensive tackle and defensive end on the All-Time Eagles Team and whether Fletcher Cox or Jerome Brown is the greatest defensive tackle in Eagles history. 

(0:42) — Jason Peters back with the Eagles to play right guard

(27:18) — Jerome vs. Fletcher 

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Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans won't be allowed at games this fall, health officials say

Eagles fans should start coming to grips with watching games from their couch in 2020.

After the city of Philadelphia cancelled "large public events" through February 2021 on Tuesday, amid the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, health officials provided an update on the feasability of fans watching Eagles games in person.

Philadelphia Department of Health commissioner Thomas Farley and Philadelphia managing director Brian Abernathy made it sound all but certain that Lincoln Financial Field stands will be empty.

Per the Inquirer:

"I do think that games can be played with the kind of safety precautions that they're proposing. I do not think that they can have spectators at those games. There’s no way for them to be safe having a crowd there," Farley said. "I can't say what the plans are for the league, but from a safety perspective, they can play games but not [have] crowds."

"The Eagles are still going to be allowed to play, although without crowds. The Phillies will continue to be allowed to play, although without crowds," Managing Director Brian Abernathy said.

Abernathy said NFL guidelines also "remind teams that local authorities have the ability to ban fans, so I don't expect any issues."

"We have been in communication with the Eagles. We have told them our expectations are that they don't have fans," Albernathy said.

Whether other teams around the country will be able to host fans, based on differing guidance from state officials, remains to be seen. Earlier this month, reports emerged claiming the NFL is considering fan waivers for those interested in attending home games this season.

A season without home fans also means the Eagles stand to lose a sizable sum of money if the NFL plays its 17-week regular season as scheduled.

As NBC Sports Philadelphia's Dave Zangaro noted, the Eagles will be one of the 10 teams most affected (financially) by a lack of fans at home games:

The Eagles in 2018 were tied for eighth in the NFL with $204 million in stadium revenue. Just the Cowboys, Patriots, Giants, Texans, Jets 49ers and Redskins made more.

In late June, the organization informed season ticket holders that their ticket installment payments would not be billed, fueling speculation that games would be played in empty stadiums this fall. 

Barring a drastic change in the pandemic's trajectory between now and early September, it seems that speculation was right.

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