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Eagles Film Review: Alshon Jeffery's hidden impact

Eagles Film Review: Alshon Jeffery's hidden impact

Through four games, Eagles wide receiver Alshon Jeffery has 17 receptions for 215 yards and 2 touchdowns. That puts him on pace to finish 2017 with 68 receptions, 860 yards and 8 touchdowns.

That’s good – but is it $9.5-million-per-year good?

That’s the amount the Eagles agreed to pay Jeffery in March, and while it was only a one-year contract, we’re a quarter of the way through the season, and there’s a sense we may be no closer to knowing whether he was worth it. That figure doesn’t even include incentives, of which he’s currently on pace to earn another $400,000.

Ten million dollars for good-not-great production. Of course, there’s more to a player’s value than statistics.

Jeffery may not be busting out of the box score on a weekly basis, but he’s doing a heck of a lot more damage than the numbers suggest. Look no further than what the presence of a true No. 1 receiver has done for Eagles tight end Zach Ertz.

“It’s benefited (Ertz) tremendously,” Eagles coach Doug Pederson said Friday. “He’s getting a little more of the one-on-one stuff. You’re not seeing the combo coverages necessarily on Zach until you get in the red zone area.

“Having Alshon on the outside, on the perimeter, has really allowed him to have better one-on-one matchups. He does a great job with that, and a good route-runner – obviously, it’s really helped him.”

Ertz is currently tied for fourth in the NFL with 26 receptions and ranks sixth with 326 receiving yards. The fifth-year player is off to the by far best start of his career, and it is absolutely thanks in part to Jeffery.

Look at Ertz’s 38-yard catch against the Chargers in Week 4. Jeffery is at the top of the screen in a twin-receiver set with Nelson Agholor, with two tight ends bunched at the bottom. Right away, you can see the single-high safety is shaded to the receiver-side of the field – he’s on the right hash mark, and the ball is being snapped on the left.

But with Jeffery and Agholor running shallow crosses, Ertz is really who the deep safety needs to be worried about.

Further compounding the matter for the Chargers, Brent Celek’s route to the sideline is going to draw the defensive back, leaving a linebacker stuck on Ertz down the field.

The defense winds up with five players looking at Jeffery and Agholor, a defensive back on 32-year-old Celek – and Ertz soon to be all alone. It’s a nice play-design all-around, but the lack of safety help over the top is what allows this to go for a huge gain.

These plays rarely happened in 2016 because the Eagles didn’t have a legitimate big-play threat on the outside. Jordan Matthews was the best wide receiver on the team, and he lined up primarily in the slot. That made life easy on defenses, which could focus all of the attention on the middle of the field, where Ertz does the bulk of his work.

“It spreads people out,” Pederson said. “Defensively, you’re worried about a couple of guys, not just one or an area of the field. “

It’s not just Ertz that’s benefiting, either. Agholor pulled in a 36-yard reception on a similar look in the first quarter, and Torrey Smith would’ve had a big play, too, if he could only hold on to the football.

Jeffery may not have the pure numbers to justify his salary, but there’s no question he’s making a difference. Plus, in addition to drawing safety help to his side of the field, Jeffery has often drawn the defense’s No. 1 cornerback as well – Josh Norman, Marcus Peters, Janoris Jenkins and Casey Heyward thus far.

“That’s part of it,” Pederson said. “Any time you put their top defender against your top receiver, I don’t want to say it eliminates the field, but it definitely draws your attention to other areas. They can be part of the – I don’t want to say a problem – but it can be a part of the lack of targets and things like that because it’s a solid matchup.

“You’re not going to sit there and try to shove sand when you don’t need to. You still have a tight end and a couple other receivers and the run game that you can work.”

In other words, when the Cardinals have Patrick Peterson locked on Jeffery all day this Sunday (see 5 matchups to watch), don’t be surprised when the Eagles target Ertz or look to their other options instead.

Eagles fans troll Patriots fans again with billboard outside Gillette Stadium

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@GinaMarie0125 on Twitter

Eagles fans troll Patriots fans again with billboard outside Gillette Stadium

The Eagles swear they've moved on from Super Bowl LII, but fans? Yeah, that's never going to happen.

With the Super Bowl rematch just two days away and the Birds heading up to Foxboro, Massachusetts, Eagles fans are making sure the Patriots and their fans remember who won the Super Bowl just a few months ago.

Gina Lewis, a Massachusetts-based Birds fan, erected a billboard at the intersection of Route 1 and North Street, which is about one mile outside of Gillette Stadium.

So folks driving to Gillette Stadium from Boston, and even up from Philly, will see the billboard as they head to the Eagles-Patriots preseason game Thursday.

In terms of billboards, it's not exactly the prettiest. The idea was fantastic, but the execution could have been better. The notion that Patriots fans will have to be reminded that the Eagles beat New England, 41-33, in Super Bowl LII is brilliant.

That's not a knock on the person who designed the billboard, though. Jordan Spector is a Philadelphia-based artist who designed the billboard.

The original text on the billboard was supposed to be: "No one likes us and we don’t care." But the billboard company forced them to change it.

To be fair to Spector, the actual design of the billboard is crisper than the one that went up. You can support Spector's work (you should because art is fun) here.

Some background as to how the billboard came to be a thing. Back in June, Lewis tweeted this:

It doesn't appear the coworker came through on his promise, but that doesn't really matter. Lewis started a GoFundMe, which remains active, to raise the $5,000 to pay for the billboard.

After it reached its goal, the GoFundMe remains active and the next $5,000 will be donated to Carson Wentz's AO1 Foundation. At the time of this posting, it's raised $6,530 out of its $10,000 goal.

If you're obliged to donate, you can here.

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Joel Embiid attempts bicycle kick at neighborhood soccer game in Cameroon

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Drew Hanlen/NBC Sports

Joel Embiid attempts bicycle kick at neighborhood soccer game in Cameroon

One of my favorite Brett Brown quotes about Joel Embiid from a few years ago is that he's "Shaquille (O'Neal) with soccer feet."

We've seen Embiid show off those soccer skills he developed as a youngster in Cameroon long before he ever picked up a basketball.

But Embiid put together two of his favorite pastimes over the weekend for one amazing video: soccer and crashing a local pickup game.

Embiid has become rather infamous in the Philly area for crashing random people's pickup games at local playgrounds. So when he traveled to Africa recently to play in the NBA Africa Game and the locals there tend to play futbol, Embiid joined in their festive games.

Footage has appeared on the Internet of Embiid playing with some locals in his native Cameroon. It's as cool as you'd expect, except for this one move Jojo attempts to pull off ...

One of Embiid's trainers for the summer, Drew Hanlen, took time away from fixing Markelle Fultz's shot to play some footie with him at the neighborhood game and shared the footage to his Instagram.

Now, there is perhaps no person in professional sports I find more likeable than Joel Embiid. He's got a rare combination of elite skill and an incredible personality that makes him easy to root for in Philadelphia. All of that said, Jo, buddy, what in the world are you doing attempting a bicycle kick? Perhaps he's got elite soccer skill and he can attempt a bicycle kick with ease. But he can't defy gravity. That 7-foot-2 body has to come back down and land on earth. Please be safe while you're having fun out there. The city of Philly needs you.

Good effort though. Think he's playing too many soccer video games TBH.

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