Like a lot of people watching the Sixers-Celtics game earlier in the week, I found it interesting that Carson Wentz and Alshon Jeffery were hanging at the game together.
Grew up watching this guy tear up the league and even made some homemade cards of him that I just recently found! Pretty dang cool!— Carson Wentz (@cj_wentz) February 13, 2019
Was a pleasure kicking it with @alleniverson and my guy @TheWorldof_AJ ... @sixers are NICE too by the way pic.twitter.com/Lk0q0kZBoE
Athletes going to other sporting games in their team’s city isn’t anything unusual, but this instance felt like it was. Wentz has been doing some PR damage control after a damning article questioning his attitude and quality as a teammate. Many feel that Jeffery was one of the players giving anonymous quotes. So the two hanging out together this week was curious.
Which got me curious. Let’s assume for a minute that Alshon Jeffery was or is not happy with Carson Wentz. Does he have a case to make on the field about it? One of the criticisms of Wentz was that he was targeting Zach Ertz too much, but such complaints don’t reflect what actually happened on the field, Ertz was targeted at virtually the same rate by Wentz and Foles.
But Alshon Jeffery has a reasonable case to complain about his production with Wentz. Looking at his time as a starter (after his rookie season) with the various QBs that Jeffery has played with, we see that Jeffery’s production with Carson Wentz as his QB is lacking. (Not counted in here are four total games with Matt Barkley and Jimmy Clausen because they are trash, and barely played with him anyway.)
Alshon Jeffery Production by QB
I split Nick Foles into regular and postseason because the “bad teammate” thing doesn’t happen if Foles doesn’t win the Super Bowl. Foles’ incredible success shades everything, and when we look at what happened, in the case of Alshon Jeffery, the results back up the narrative.
Other than touchdowns, which have come at a similar rate, Jeffery’s been more productive with Foles at QB than with Wentz. He’s been more productive with every QB that isn’t Wentz.
There a few factors at work here. One is that every player is different, and Carson Wentz is most definitely a different QB than Foles, Jay Cutler, Brian Hoyer and Josh McCown. It’s not surprising that Jeffery’s production would look different. What stands out is the severity of the drop off, and that it’s not because Wentz isn’t throwing to him. There’s definitely room for adjustments. Which brings us to coaching.
It’s a very small sample size, but in two regular season starts with Foles in 2017, Jeffery caught just 4 passes for 49 yards on 10 targets against the Giants, then no passes on 2 targets against the Raiders. During the playoff bye week Doug Pederson altered his offense to better suit Foles, and Jeffery was productive, catching at least 3 passes for at least 61 yards in each playoff game. And he had big plays with the catch to set up Jake Elliott’s end of half FG against the Falcons, two touchdowns against the Vikings, and a touchdown in the Super Bowl.
This season something similar happened, as Doug Pederson altered the offense as the season progressed, and Foles was again the QB for the end of it. Jeffery caught at least 3 passes for at least 59 yards a game once Foles took over in Week 14. It’s fair to speculate that had Wentz played those games in 2018 that those changes would still have been made, and because of it the Wentz-Jeffery connection would look different.
Regardless of whether or not Alshon Jeffery and Carson Wentz get along, and regardless of whether or not Jeffery was anonymously quoted criticizing Wentz, Carson Wentz hasn’t gotten the best out of Alshon Jeffery. If Wentz can turn that around in 2019, everyone benefits.