Mike Groh recalls meeting Alshon Jeffery shortly after he was named the Bears' wide receivers coach in 2013. Jeffery was coming off of a rookie season in which he had modest production - 26 catches for 367 yards and three touchdowns in 10 games.
The 6-3, 218-pound Jeffery wasn't a raw player, according to Groh. The wingspan of over 80 inches was evident. The tape showed a player with good ball skills, sticky hands, and promising run-after-the-catch ability.
"All of those things were very, very apparent early on in my time in Chicago," Groh said Friday afternoon at the NovaCare Complex.
But Jeffery also displayed the desire to be a better player, and build upon those numbers from the first season.
"He was really hungry coming off his rookie year, a broken hand, missed some time, felt like he had a lot to prove," Groh said. "He really was a tireless worker every day in practice."
Between Jeffery's fire and Groh's tutelage, the second-year wideout had a career-high 89 receptions and 1,421 yards along with seven touchdowns. Jeffery took Groh with him to Hawaii to celebrate his selection to the Pro Bowl. The following season, Jeffery had another 1,000-yard campaign (1,133 yards) as well as a career-best 10 touchdowns.
The two are now reunited in Philadelphia. Groh left the Bears in 2016 to be the Rams' passing game coordinator/wide receivers coach, before being hired by the Eagles earlier this offseason. Jeffery signed his one-year deal with the team on Friday.
"He's somebody that you certainly can count on to win his matchup," Groh said. "He's been a very productive player in this league over the course of his five-year career, somebody that I think Carson (Wentz) 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 described his five years with the Bears as "great," but also as a "stepping stone." He felt that Philadelphia was "a perfect fit for me, the right situation for me and my family."
For his career, Jeffery has 304 catches for 4,549 yards and 26 touchdowns. Not only does Jeffery have a long frame, but he's outstanding at contested-catch situations which will help the Eagles and Wentz out in the red zone. In 2014, Jeffery had six scores inside the 20-yard line. The Eagles ranked 24th in red zone touchdown percentage last season. The Eagles' wide receiver corps combined for six receiving touchdowns in the red zone.
When Jeffery entered the league, he had veteran wide receiver Brandon Marshall to serve as a mentor. Now, he wants to pay it back and help groom the Eagles' young group of receivers.
"I think with young guys, they always need some help with someone helping them along the way," Jeffery said. "As long as we're winning and making plays, that's all that matters to me."
He understands what to expect from the fans in Philadelphia. He's watched the movie Invincible, which brought Vince Papale's amazing story to the big screen, and he remembers what it was like to be on the sidelines at The Linc for the 54-11 rout in December 2013.
"Die-hard fans. I think we played here three years ago and they really gave it to us. They gave us hell," Jeffery said. "They're passionate about their city. This city needs a championship, wants a championship. It's a must."
Go behind the scenes as the newest Eagles arrive at the NovaCare Complex, sign their contracts, and more.