The Official Site of the Philadelphia Eagles

News

Print
RSS

Offense Building Something Special

Posted Mar 16, 2017

Alshon Jeffery is a soft-spoken man, but don’t think he’s bashful about his abilities. Put him on the basketball court and, “I’ll find a way to score the ball.” Throw him a pass and “I’m gonna catch it.” Jeffery believes in himself ...

Alshon Jeffery is a soft-spoken man, but don’t think he’s bashful about his abilities. Put him on the basketball court and, “I’ll find a way to score the ball.” Throw him a pass and “I’m gonna catch it.” Jeffery believes in himself.

It’s why he is an Eagle on a one-year contract and as much as the contract works for the Eagles in a “tight” salary cap situation, it works for Jeffery as he comes into an offense that likes to throw the football, has a strong offensive line with a rising star at quarterback in Carson Wentz, and will happily give Jeffery as many targets each week as he can handle.

“He's somebody that you certainly can count on to win his matchup," said wide receivers coach Mike Groh, who coached Jeffery in Chicago from 2013-15, when Jeffery caught 228 passes for 3,361 yards and 21 touchdowns. “He's been a very productive player in this league over the course of his five-year career, somebody that I think Carson will find very easy to throw to. He's got a wide catch radius, has excellent ball skills. We're excited about all of the attributes that he brings to the offense."

Jeffery will make defenses account for him in coverage, so how often will defensive backs work one on one in the scheme? Will it be an automatic that when Wentz sees Jeffery in single coverage he throws the ball that way? And if defenses have a safety over the top against Jeffery, does that give Torrey Smith more chances to run past cornerbacks with no deep help?

“It’s going to be exciting to see the dimension that Alshon brings to the offense. He’s a dynamic talent and he brings a lot of options to our passing game,” offensive coordinator Frank Reich said. “I’m really looking forward to getting him in here and working with him. He’s going to be a big piece in what we do.

“With what Alshon can do and with the element that Torrey brings to the offense, we feel like we’ve improved quite a bit.”

Smith is the speed receiver the Eagles have lacked since DeSean Jackson left town, and despite two seasons in San Francisco that were not productive, both the Eagles and Smith believe he has the ability to get behind defenses and make big plays.

Speed kills. And Smith still has it.

“There is no doubt about that,” Smith said. “I’m here to start new and help this team any way I can.”

He can help by going deep. Since 2011, Smith has averaged 17 yards per reception, second in the NFL behind Jackson’s 17.4-yard average.

“He can still run,” vice president of player personnel Joe Douglas said. “You watch the film and that is very obvious.”

So what does it all mean for the offense? There is no doubt that head coach Doug Pederson and Reich were stifled in 2016 by the lack of explosiveness at the wide receiver position. It was apparent in the play calling and in some of the decision-making after the offense’s red-hot start to the season. Too often, the receivers couldn’t win one-on-one matchups on the outside and the Eagles became a tight end-oriented passing game.

With Jeffery and Smith, the Eagles have legitimate playmakers who can win against cornerbacks. Jordan Matthews, who played outside in 2016 more than at any time in his career, can now line up more in the slot, where he has an advantage in most of his matchups. Tight end Zach Ertz can move around the formation and create favorable situations. Darren Sproles can be a more impactful player out of the backfield in the screen game and running wheel routes against slower linebackers.

Jeffery is the big acquisition and he teams nicely with Smith. Their skill sets complement each other and they play well within the structure of the West Coast offense.

Spadaro Podcast Text Club Email

“It’s kind of like a basketball team,” Howie Roseman said. “You have all of these different parts and each fits a role and they all sort of play off of each other. We’ve got more work to do on both sides of the ball and we know that, but we feel good about what we’re putting together here.”

Adding the two receivers – and the Eagles aren’t necessarily done addressing wide receiver between now and the end of the draft – and signing guard Chance Warmack and retaining Stefen Wisniewski to bolster what should be an outstanding offensive line improves the offense in a big way.

The Eagles have more to do to get the offense where they want it to be. They need to get the running game to a potent level, so addressing the backfield is a priority moving forward. What that means, exactly, is not yet known, but there are a handful of veteran running backs still on the market and the draft is said to be loaded with prospects. The Eagles have to determine how and if a healthy Ryan Mathews fits in, and how much they want to use Sproles as a ball carrier and if Wendell Smallwood and Byron Marshall and Terrell Watson can help in 2017.

“When we have everybody here and get them on the field, we’ll see what we have,” Reich said. “It’s all a process and we’re adding pieces. It’s exciting to see how it is all coming together.”

Philadelphia Eagles Insider bringing you breaking news, plus all the latest buzz and speculation surrounding the team.
Subscribe to Eagles Live Podcast


 


Recent Articles