Normally I say a little bit here about the player, but you all know who Alshon Jeffery is. He's very good. I'm not going to break him down and just conclude saying he's really good. So let's just have some fun here, I'll look at his positives and negatives and conclude with just how good I think he can be in this offense. When breaking him down I'll try and touch on him he can fit in this offense too. All the clips I'm using here too are from 2016 because that's how I like to do my breakdowns. His 2013 and 2014 film is even better though, so keep that in mind! Also, I apologize for some of the rubbish all22 angles but the Bears stadium has the worst camera angle.
Alshon Jeffery's ability to go up and get the football is unique. He is probably as good as anyone in the league in jump ball situations. Jeffery has a massive catch radius, excellent body control, long arms, big hands and the ability to get the football at it's highest point. It's beautiful to watch. Just look at some of these clips.
I know this angle doesn't show his release line at the line of scrimmage but it shows why he's the generic 'when he's covered, he's open' receiver. There's not a lot of separation here against Josh Norman but he tracks the ball so well and shows incredible athleticism to adjust to a ball thrown slightly behind him and highpoint the football. I love the sneaky little push off just before jumping too, it means Norman can get nowhere near him. There are only a few receivers that can make a play like this.
Here we go again. This time it's against Xavier Rhodes who is a big, lengthy cornerback and also very good. Once again Jeffery doesn't get a great deal of separation but he doesn't need it when he can go up like this. If you try and cover Jeffery one on one in man coverage without a safety on his side of the field, the quarterback should just give Jeffery a chance to make a play. Jeffery tracks the ball so well and has such a big catch radius you don't need to be pinpoint in your accuracy either. He's so fun to watch. If you have an undersized cornerback on the outside, I feel sorry for him having to go up against Jeffery.
Jeffery tries to run a double move here and he manages to get a little bit of separation but he doesn't burn the cornerback by any means. Once again, you don't need to when you can go up and get the ball like this. What else can I say about his jump ball ability? There's nothing else to say. Just watch his body control on these plays, my goodness. Notice how cornerbacks often play off coverage against him. He's hard to press because he's so big and strong and that also opens the opportunity to throw the back shoulder throw. If I was a cornerback, I would hate to press Jeffery because it means you're facing away from the quarterback almost instantly and then makes it even harder to stop Jeffery going up and getting it.
Torrey Smith isn't the only receiver who can stretch the field. Jeffery is deceptively fast because he's such a long strider and does take a second to really get up to full speed. Once he gets up to full speed though, he can fly. You can see the cornerback here turns his hips when Jeffery is at least 2-3 yards away but it doesn't matter. The cornerback flips his hips at about the 16-yard line and Jeffery already has a yard of separation by the 30-yard line. This ball is badly underthrown so Jeffery can't get to it, but Jeffery will give the Eagles a vertical threat who can stretch the field too.
This play may look pretty simple but I included it for one key reason. This is the Eagles most commonly used formation, 11 personnel, 2 receivers on one side and 1 alone on the other side of the field in the X-Iso. The Eagles didn't have anyone who could line up alone as the X receiver and beat man coverage. Jeffery can. There are some concerns about his separation ability but it's overblown. Yes, he isn't Odell Beckham, but he's a different type of receiver. He is very good at separating on routes such as the in, slant, dig and comeback where he can win using his size. Jeffery was arguably the only true X receiver available in free agency. Having him here will help every other receiver on this offense.
Jeffery might not have the movement skills of some of the quickest receivers in the league but he can get open. Here he is lined up inside one on one against Josh Norman. You can see on this play how much Norman respects Jeffery's ability to go downfield and get to the outside. Norman is trying to stop the outside throws and prevent a big play. This allows Jeffery to use his size and his hands to cut inside and make an easy catch. Later in the same game, he ran a great in route on 3rd and 8 to gain 10 yards and move the chains against Josh Norman in man coverage. Jeffery will give the Eagles a big time reliable target on 3rd down which the offense really lacked last year. If you read my breakdowns last year, you'll remember the Eagles used the dagger concept a lot and had success with it. I can already imagine the Eagles running it this year, with Torrey Smith in the slot, clearing out the deep safety and then Jeffery running the deep in route.
The Eagles were terrible in the Red Zone last year. Jeffery will give the offense a big target in the Red Zone who Wentz will love. Here he just runs a simple slant and makes a good catch in traffic for the touchdown. The corners often play off coverage against Jeffery because they know he can kill them with the fade and back shoulder routes if they get up and try to press him. Jeffery is great between the 20s but he really excels on the nearer the End Zone. He can run in breaking routes like this and box out the cornerback if they back off him. But if they come up and try to press him, the fade and back shoulder throws will be open. As we've seen earlier, Jeffery is incredibly good in contested catch situations and he also has the size to be able to take a hit when catching in traffic and still hold on to the ball.
The biggest problem with Jeffery isn't his on the field play, it's what happens off it. I don't want to get into that though, that's not what I do. So let's look at some of his negatives on the field.
Right so this isn't a bad play by Jeffery at all but it gives me a chance to touch on something. As good as Jeffery is, he requires the right style of quarterback to excel. As bad as Jay Cutler can be, he was a great quarterback for Jeffery because he gave him chances to make a play. In college Wentz was an extremely aggressive passer. Last year, he wasn't as aggressive going down the field as I expected but I think that was due to the receivers. For Jeffery to truly work here, Wentz will have to trust him to go and get the ball even when he's not open. Also, this play highlights that a lot of Jeffery's success relies on great timing between the quarterback and receiver. On this back shoulder throw, the timing is slightly off which leads to an incompletion. I wouldn't say it's a negative for Jeffery, I just think it's something to consider. Wentz and Jeffery will have to work hard to get the timing down on these back shoulder and fade routes otherwise Jeffery won't hit his full potential here.
This, on the other hand, is definitely a bad play by Jeffery. One criticism I have with Jeffery is that at times he can be lazy and sloppy with his route running and just rely on his size to get him open. This route is pretty terrible, it looks like he's supposed to run a slant route and get in front of the cornerback based on where Cutler throws the ball but he just can't get off the press and ends up running a really bad route which results in Cutler getting picked off. I believe the separation argument against Jeffery is slightly overblown as I've mentioned before but it's fair to say he doesn't separate as consistently as the top receivers in the league.
Last play I'll show because, to be honest, I'm struggling to find many negatives with Jeffery on the field. I'm pretty certain this is PI by the defensive back but it's still worth noting that he didn't get any separation with his double move. If he wasn't interfered with he might have made the catch so you could say who cares. But, the issue is, if Wentz sees that Jeffery isn't getting separation and doesn't give him a shot to make the play then Jeffery won't excel here. You can see on this play too that Jeffery isn't the most explosive or sudden athlete. He is fast as I mentioned earlier but he's a long strider and takes a little while to get up to speed which means these double moves don't really suit him.
Alshon Jeffery is a stud. Plain and simple. I was so excited by the signing because I think he was the one true X receiver available in free agency. I think signing both Jeffery and Smith is a sign that Doug Pederson wants a far more expansive offense that goes downfield more often than last year. I always thought that last year the wide receivers were limiting what Doug could call. I never thought it made sense to trade up for someone like Carson Wentz and then throw it short so often. You might as well have kept Sam Bradford. Jeffery and Smith will open up the offense and I really think we'll see a much more aggressive Wentz next year, which should be awesome to see.
I don't think Jeffery is a top 5 receiver in this league. I think he is just a level below the real best in the league, such as Julio Jones and Antonio Brown because they move better and separate on a more consistent basis. However, I believe Jeffery is a top 10 receiver and has sky high potential. He needs to be used correctly and I'm just hoping that Doug and Wentz give him a chance to excel here and don't waste his talent. Jeffery is the kind of receiver that can transform your offense and he should give this offense an absolutely massive boost next season. Why is September so far away?