Alshon Jeffery: The Road to Victory
14 February 2018 Eagles News
On April 26th 2012, standout wide receiver Alshon Jeffery was drafted with the 45th overall pick in the second round of the NFL Draft by the Chicago Bears. Chicago was where the South Carolina Gamecock started his NFL career, but it included many disparities. Despite earning two Pro Bowl trips in his tenure with the Bears, Jeffery went through several injuries including a hand fracture, a knee meniscus tear, multiple hamstring sprains, and a season ending hamstring tear.
To make things even worse, at the end of the 2016 season, his fifth season in the league, the NFL suspended Jeffery for four games for violating the NFL’s performance-enhancing drug policy. At the time of the suspension, Jeffery had relayed to the media that his lack of research about an inflammation-combatting supplement he was taking caused him to be upset with himself. After serving his suspension, Jeffery played in the final three games of the season and was headed into the offseason with a looming cloud of doubt over his shoulder tagged with a stigma from around the league that he could not stay healthy and was undisciplined.
The season is over and free agency suddenly hits.
Jeffery, who had been very impressive statistics-wise in Chicago without a good quarterback, was looking for a multi-year deal with a team who had the money to give him and who would be a contender. He was ranked as the No. 1 free agent and had interests drawn from teams like the San Francisco 49ers, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings. One team that was considered far from a match financially was the Philadelphia Eagles.
The Eagles were not in a comfortable state to be able to out pay other teams during free agency, but they needed a true No. 1 receiver. While all of the news and media predicted Jeffery to sign with a team with large amounts of cap room, worker of magic and free agency connoisseur Howie Roseman had other plans.
On March 9th, 2017, the free agency frenzy became real. Alshon Jeffery turned down all long-term offers and decided to sign with the Philadelphia Eagles on a $14 million “prove-it” contract, a decision that would be one of the best decisions of his career. The deal included many incentives and allowed him to compete to earn a possible long-term deal with the Eagles in the future.
Jeffery finally had a place where he was not shadowed by another No. 1 receiver on a team (see Brandon Marshall in Chicago) AND had a talented quarterback as the leader of the offense. Jeffery had high praise for second year quarterback Carson Wentz and labeled him as one of the main reasons for joining Philadelphia. In addition, Jeffery was reunited with former Bears wide receiver coach Mike Groh who was already with the Eagles coaching staff.
The stage was set for the Eagles 2017 season to begin and Jeffery was in a great place with multiple weapons around him to ease the pressure off. If someone looked at Jeffery’s statistic line from the 2017 season, that person would say that he had a very average season. Jeffery did not record a double-digit receptions game, a 100-yard receiving game or a triple touchdown game all season long (including playoffs). That person would also say that Jeffery did not live up to his expectations and is not a No. 1 receiver because he did not put up the numbers, however this is so far from the truth its laughable.
Carson Wentz went down with an ACL injury during week 14 and in the last three games of the season Jeffery only totaled five receptions, 57 receiving yards and one touchdown. His decline in production gave the media the opportunity to slander the connection between backup quarterback Nick Foles and Jeffery and say that he only was able to benefit from Wentz’s performance.
Despite the noise and slander, Howie Roseman saw the potential of Jeffery and how his presence changed how the offense was able to run. With this, Jeffery was rewarded with a long-term, four-year $52 million deal. The Eagles organization trusted Jeffery and proved it with his new deal.
As the Eagles headed into the playoffs, the team’s bye week allowed Jeffery and Foles to create synergy. Plenty of news outlets and reporters still had doubts, but during the Eagles playoff run Jeffery was anxious to prove them all wrong.
In the Falcons game, Jeffery reels in four balls of 12+ yards and keeps the chains moving.
Next, Jeffery has the game of his life and goes 5/5 with 85 receiving yards and two touchdowns. This was undoubtedly his best game all season.
Now, the Super Bowl. May I remind you, the reader, that Jeffery had never seen a lick of playoffs while with the Chicago Bears. No time at all. Now he has the opportunity to win the biggest game of his life on the big stage against the New England Patriots in the Super Bowl.
With all the confidence in the world, Jeffery basically told the media that he guaranteed a Super Bowl. “Ain’t no if. Ain’t no if, man. Speak it into existence. When we win this game on Sunday, ain’t no telling (what) we’re going to do, but we’re probably going to celebrate, have some fun.”
Jeffery and Foles now had two games of developed playoff chemistry together and were up against a defense that thrived in red zone coverage, an area where Jeffery thrived all season. With that in mind, head coach Doug Pederson put in plays that suited him well for 1-on-1 coverage. And that’s exactly what happened.
In the first quarter, Jeffery made a big time play in a big time moment. Eagles were lined up on the Patriots 34-yard line. Nick Foles hiked the ball, went through his play action progressions, and with ample time in the pocket heaved the ball down the field towards Jeffery’s area. Jeffery was covered by none other than former Eagles cornerback Eric Rowe. In a jump ball scenario, can you guess who had the advantage?
Jeffery put the Eagles up by seven in that moment to make the score 9-3 (after a brutal missed field goal by Jake Elliott) at the end of the first quarter of play. The Patriots defense adjusted in the second half to double cover Jeffery, which practically made him unusable but that left the Eagles offense to take advantage of other matchups.
Jeffery started off hot and expelled the rest of his teammates the necessary confidence to close out and win the biggest game of his career. Now, Jeffery is a Super Bowl LII champion. He is a No. 1 receiver. He is selfless. He is everything the Eagles asked from him when they signed him all the way back in March.
The Eagles have Alshon Jeffery under contract through the 2021 season and are in good hands with having a true “X” receiver since Terrell Owens.
Peter Schrager from Good Morning Football gave the following quote on the NFL’s top wide receivers that could not be more perfect: “Heading into next season we need to include Alshon Jeffery in that conversation.” Only facts, Peter. Only facts.
The city of Philadelphia is ecstatic for you to stay for a long time, Alshon. With a ring under your belt, stay hungry. You’ve made history…now go make some more!