Alshon Jeffery

Eagles need to find coaches to lead their biggest weaknesses

Eagles need to find coaches to lead their biggest weaknesses

Coming out of the 2019 season, if you were to rank the Eagles’ positions of need, it would be really difficult at the top.

There’s 1 and 1a — in either order.

The Eagles were already looking at massive overhauls in their secondary and at the wide receiver position this offseason. And now they’ll need to find coaches to lead two position groups that have been as injury-plagued as they have been disappointing over the last two seasons.

These are going to be very important hires for the organization.

This is a fresh start and an opportunity to hire coaches who can help transform two areas of the team that desperately need it.

Or this could make it even harder.

Last week, we found out that the Eagles fired receivers coach Carson Walch along with offensive coordinator Mike Groh. And on Monday, the Detroit Lions hired defensive backs coach Cory Undlin to be their defensive coordinator. So one guy got fired, one got promoted, but both are gone. And now the Eagles need to replace them.

Whomever the Eagles hire for these positions will likely have a very different cast of players than the ones Undlin and Walch had in 2019. Think about all the uncertainty at receiver and in the secondary and how much these positions need to improve.

Secondary

• Jalen Mills, Ronald Darby and Rodney McLeod are all set to be free agents. Malcolm Jenkins wants a new contract. Sidney Jones and Rasul Douglas couldn’t get on the field in the playoff game.

• Thanks to injuries, the Eagles used 21 different defensive backs in the last two seasons, including Josh Hawkins, Dexter McDougle and Tre Sullivan.

• In 2019, the Eagles had the NFL’s 19th-best pass defense. Since 2015, when Undlin took over as DBs coach, the Eagles have the 27th-ranked pass defense in NFL.

• In that same timespan, the Eagles have given up 53 pass plays of 40+ yards. Just five teams have given up more.  

•  And the Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl defensive back since 2003, according to Reuben Frank. That’s the longest drought in the NFL.

• Just take a look at their last decade drafting defensive backs:

2018: Avonte Maddox (4th)
2017: Sidney Jones (2nd)
2017: Rasul Douglas (3rd)
2016: Blake Countess (6th)
2016: Jalen Mills (7th)
2014: Eric Rowe (2nd)
2015: JaCorey Shepherd (6th)
2015: Randall Evans (6th)
2014: Jaylen Watkins (4th)
2014: Ed Reynolds (5th)
2013: Earl Wolff (5th)
2013: Jordan Poyer (7th)
2012: Brandon Boykin (4th)
2011: Jaiquawn Jarrett (2nd)
2011: Cutis Marsh (3rd)
2010: Nate Allen (2nd)
2010: Trevard Lindley (4th)
2010: Kurt Coleman (7th)

Wide receiver

• The Eagles’ next receivers coach will be their sixth in six seasons.

• Alshon Jeffery has a significant injury and significant guaranteed salary. DeSean Jackson is 33 and coming off a season that also ended with an IR trip. And Nelson Agholor is heading toward free agency and everyone pretty much knows he’s gone.

• Thanks to more injuries, the Eagles used 15 receivers in the last two years, including Markus Wheaton, Kamar Aiken, Deontay Burnett and Rob Davis.

• This season, Carson Wentz became the first quarterback in NFL history to throw for 4,000 yards without a receiver going over 500 yards receiving.

• And the Eagles haven’t drafted a Pro Bowl receiver since DeSean back in 2008.

• Here’s their decade of misery trying to find receivers in the draft:

2019: J.J. Arcega-Whiteside (2nd)
2017: Mack Hollins (4th)
2017: Shelton Gibson (4th)
2015: Nelson Agholor (1st)
2014: Jordan Matthews (2nd)
2014: Josh Huff (3rd)
2012: Marvin McNutt (6th)
2010: Riley Cooper (5th)

Based on the history of the Eagles’ inability to find cornerbacks and receivers, maybe there shouldn’t be much hope that the front office is going to go out and find talented players at those two positions. But they’re going to try.

From there, it’ll be up to these new, important hires — whoever they are — to develop talent at two positions that desperately need it.

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Alshon Jeffery to undergo foot surgery, faces lengthy rehab

Alshon Jeffery to undergo foot surgery, faces lengthy rehab

Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery, who suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Eagles’ win over the Giants Monday night, will undergo surgery to repair his Lisfranc injury, Doug Pederson said Friday.

“He would want to get it done quickly so he can get on a rehab schedule,” Pederson said.

It’s impossible to tell when Jeffery might return, but this is generally a long rehab. 

A University of Pennsylvania study of 28 NFL players who suffered Lisfranc injuries determined that the average player misses about 11 months. Some miss less, some miss more.

According to the study, 22 of 28 players who were identified with this injury had surgery, and those players generally took longer to return to action than those who didn’t, likely because their injuries were more serious in the first place.

The start of the 2020 season is about nine months away, so although the start of his season appears in jeopardy, Jeffery would appear to have a chance to play at some point next year.

Pederson said it was too early to speculate on Jeffery’s possible return: “I don’t have a rough sense yet on when that would be. It’s a long way away.”

Meanwhile, receiver Nelson Agholor, who missed the Dolphins game with a knee injury, does not look likely to return Sunday.

Agholor said on Thursday his knee was at a “stalemate.”

“We’ll work through today and see where he’s at,” Pederson said. “Obviously, he hasn’t worked the last couple days. I’m not sure what statement means, but we’re still working through it.”

Pederson also said running back Jordan Howard is still not cleared for contact, so he’ll miss his fifth straight game since suffering a stinger against the Bears back on Nov. 3.

Pederson was asked if the Eagles, with just three regular-season games remaining, were close to shutting down Howard or Agholor and opening up roster spots.

“Yeah, we’re kind of getting down here to the end, obviously,” he said. “I understand the question. But I think my hope is that they return and return soon so that we can get them back. I lean more that way of getting a player back than trying to free up a spot and he gets healthy he can play.”

Pederson indicated that the Eagles don’t plan on activating another wide receiver from the practice squad.

Right now, they have just J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward and Robert Davis healthy and expected to play Sunday. Those three have played a combined 21 games in their career.

Other skill players in uniform Sunday will be tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert, running backs Miles Sanders, Boston Scott and Jay Ajayi and hybrid tight end/receiver Josh Perkins. 

“I look at it as nine bodies with tight end, runners and receivers, so we’ve got everything covered that way,” he said. “We’ve got a plan to the plan to the plan to the plan if we lose a guy in the course of the game. It’s where we are right now as a team, as an offense.”

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Carson Wentz on Alshon Jeffery: 'I love that guy'

Carson Wentz on Alshon Jeffery: 'I love that guy'

There’s been a sense for a while now that the relationship between Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz is a bit strained.

It didn’t help when anonymous quotes popped up on ESPN from an unnamed player criticizing Wentz, and WIP’s Howard Eskin, who is also the Eagles’ radio sideline reporter, quickly reported that Jeffery was the source of those quotes, something Jeffery denied.

On Tuesday, we learned Jeffery is out for the year, and on Thursday, Wentz talked about how big a loss that is but also spoke — in glowing terms — about his relationship with Jeffery.

“I have a great relationship with Alshon,” Wentz said. “He’s been an awesome teammate ever since he got here. When he first signed here, we went to dinner, we got to know each other, we both had high expectations for each other. It’s been awesome getting to know him as a guy and as a teammate and seeing the plays he’s been able to make over the years and this year as well. I love that guy and obviously the injury is very unfortunate.”

Jeffery has been Wentz’s No. 1 wide receiver in their three years together, with 143 catches for 1,754 yards and 17 touchdowns. The Eagles are 21-12 in 33 games with both Jeffery and Wentz in uniform.

But both have dealt with injuries since 2017. Wentz missed eight regular-season games and both playoff runs in 2017 and 2018, and Jeffery, whose season is now over, will have missed nine games the last two years.

Jeffery, who missed a game with a calf injury earlier this year and two more with an ankle injury, suffered a season-ending foot injury in the Giants game Monday night.

NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Jon Clark reported Thursday Jeffery has a Lysfranc injury and is considering surgery.

Jeffery, a Pro Bowler with the Bears in 2013, had just 43 catches for 490 yards and four touchdowns in 10 games this year.

He did have 137 yards against the Dolphins two weeks ago, his second-biggest game as an Eagle.

Jeffery had 45 catches for 732 yards and five TDs in 13 games with Nick Foles, including 12-for-219 and three TDs in the 2017 Super Bowl run.

“Alshon, shoot, I love that guy and his injury was unfortunate,” Wentz said. “It’s part of the game and it’s a part of the game we all hate, but he came in ready to work every day, and he had injuries here and there throughout the year and that definitely lingered and hampered him, but when he was healthy he was making plays and he was helping us out in a big way and that’s a tough loss for us.” 

Jeffery is under contract for 2020 at $12.75 million, a figure the Eagles guaranteed earlier this year. They would absorb a $26 million cap hit if they release him, and thanks to the injury he’s now untradeable, so it’s hard to imagine a scenario where Jeffery isn’t here next year, although the early part of his season could be in jeopardy.

Wentz obviously isn’t going anywhere so it makes sense for Wentz to speak highly of Jeffery because the two are most likely going to be together for at least another year.

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