Some valuable help arrived for Jalen Hurts from an unexpected source.
Hurts' first two NFL starts have coincided with a healthier Alshon Jeffery, and say what you will about Jeffery and his bloated contract, injuries and lack of recent production, he's been huge for a young quarterback just finding his way in the NFL.
All the other Eagles wide receivers are young and inexperienced.
The biggest thing any young quarterback needs is some stability around him. Like a receiver he can count on who's always in the right place, is savvy enough to know how to work opposing cornerbacks and isn't out there trying to learn the game himself.
Jeffery's recent past is unfortunate and his future is unknown, but right now, he's invaluable for Hurts.
After missing a year with a foot injury, Jeffery returned in Week 10 against the Seahawks, but he was clearly rusty and managed only two catches for 15 yards in his first four games, which were Carson Wentz's last four games.
In his first career start, against the Saints, Hurts threw one touchdown pass, and it was a 15-yarder to Jeffery that gave the Eagles the lead for good.
And Sunday in Arizona, Jeffery had catches of 24 and 39 yards and picked up 14 and 26 yards on pass interference calls working against Patrick Peterson.
His 63 receiving yards are the most by an Eagles wide receiver in the last six games, and including the penalties, Jeffery contributed 103 yards to the cause.
He became the first Eagles WR with two catches longer than 20 yards in the same game since DeSean Jackson had those 51- and 53-yard TDs from Wentz on opening day last year against Washington. And it was the first time for Jeffery since the 2018 Rams game.
Is he overpaid? Yeah. Should the Eagles move on from him in 2021? Yeah.
But right now, he is helping.
"The thing that I've appreciated with Alshon, even when he wasn't out there and going through his rehab and injury, is how he's really mentored these young receivers," Doug Pederson said Thursday morning. "Taking a guy like Travis Fulgham, J.J. (Arcega-Whiteside), Jalen Reagor, (John) Hightower, Quez (Watkins), all these guys, and really — I see him or I saw him, and he continues to do this, just talking to them and coaching them.
"And I guess another thing I've really appreciated about Alshon is that he's so unselfish. He doesn't have to have every ball thrown his way. He doesn't have to score all the touchdowns. He gets excited when Miles scores or when Jalen Reagor scores or when Quez scored the other day. He gets fired up about that. He's such a pro about it. And so his value has been about mentoring and sort of coaching and teaching these young guys how to play this game."
If you want to fairly evaluate your young quarterback, it really doesn't hurt to have a nine-year veteran out there who knows all the tricks of the trade.
"He feels good," Pederson said of Jeffery. "Obviously, he's healthier now. He's got his game legs back, and he's playing aggressive. And I just think he's in a really good spot right now, mentally and physically."
Are his reps holding back the young receivers? The more important question to ask is whether his reps are helping the young quarterback.
And they clearly are.
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