It was hard to watch Odell Beckham’s antics Thursday night without thinking how lucky the Eagles are to have Alshon Jeffery.
Beckham is a unique talent, no question about that, and he had three monster seasons from 2014 through 2016. No question about that either.
But watching Beckham yelling and carrying on during the game on the Giants’ sideline, head-butting a cooling fan, leaving the field early before halftime, you can’t help think how maybe he's just not worth the trouble.
Jeffery is the anti-Odell. Quiet, professional, unselfish. Good luck trying to get him to talk about his stats. Or anything, for that matter. He’s the perfect match for the Eagles’ locker room. Just wants to win and willing to do whatever it takes.
When things start going bad, he doesn't.
And he’s maybe not as talented as Beckham, but he’s pretty darn good.
Jeffery is a rarity in the modern NFL. A superstar wide receiver without a superstar ego.
He played better than his numbers last year, making a ton of big catches during the regular season and then blowing up in the playoffs with 12-for-219 and three TDs, including a spectacular Super Bowl touchdown while playing with a shoulder injury that required offseason surgery.
For the sake of comparison, Beckham has played in one playoff game — in 2016 against the Packers and their 31st-ranked pass defense, and he was 4-for-28 receiving with a long gain of 11 yards in a 38-11 loss.
Here’s Alshon in last year’s postseason:
Falcons: 4-for-61, 0 TD
Vikings: 5-for-85, 2 TD
Patriots, 3-for-73, 1 TD
Jeffery and Harold Carmichael are the only Eagles with three straight postseason games with 60 yards receiving.
I want the guy who’s a team player. I want the guy who comes up big in the playoffs.
Since returning three weeks ago after missing the entire preseason, Jeffery has actually been even better than last year.
He’s got 18 catches for 228 yards, his most productive three-game stretch since October of 2015 with the Bears, when he was 28-414 yards against the Lions, Vikings and Chargers.
And he gets in the end zone. Since opening day of last year, only Antonio Brown has more TD catches than Jeffery.
“He’s a mismatch nightmare,” Nelson Agholor said. “Nowadays, you’ve got speed corners out there with littler guys. He climbs on those dudes. We like to say he dunks on those dudes.”
Carson Wentz and Jeffery have this remarkable connection, and Carson is at the point where he just trusts Jeffery to make a play as long as he gets the ball near him.
“We didn’t have an offseason together or a training camp so it’s getting better,” Jeffery said.
Wentz and Jeffery have only played 16 games together, but Jeffery has 11 TDs in those games.
“He’s a leader,” Wentz said. “He’s very soft spoken as you guys probably know but he works his tail off and you know what you’re going to get with him week in and week out.
“Just an awesome guy to have in the locker room and an awesome guy to have on the field. He makes plays all the time.”
The last Eagle with nine TDs in consecutive years was Mike Quick from 1983 through 1987, but you have to like Jeffery’s odds to get six more in the next 13 games.
“They’ve really developed a rapport,” Pederson said. “Alshon is playing extremely well right now — he's explosive and his run after the catch is really good. Carson feels comfortable with him, and it just comes from time, just working with each other and developing that rapport.”
Nobody ever puts Alshon Jeffery’s name up there with the top wide receivers in the league, and as long as he’s with the Eagles he’ll never produce the kind of numbers that Julio Jones, DeAndre Hopkins and Beckham do.
But he has one important thing those guys don't have. And if I’m a quarterback, I’m not sure there’s many guys I’d rather throw to than No. 17.