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JJ Arcega-Whiteside touches on his rookie struggles and more during Spanish interview

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Can Philly’s 2019 second-round pick turn it around in Year 2?

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

Labeling JJ Arcega-Whiteside’s rookie season with the Philadelphia Eagles as “disappointing” would be ... well, an understatement.

The Eagles’ 2019 second-round pick played 486 offensive snaps but logged just 10 receptions for 169 yards and one touchdown. Despite being the sixth receiver off the board, JJAW ranked 28th among all rookies in receiving yards. The Stanford alumnus ranked dead last in Pro Football Focus’s yards per route run metric:

JJAW recently talked about his struggles and more in an interview with 100 Yardas. I don’t speak Spanish so I don’t have the exact transcript (let me know if you can provide that!) but our good friend Ignacio was kind enough to share some takeaways based on his own translation.

Some thoughts:

  • That JJAW said he needed help just to walk to the bathroom at one point seems kinda significant. To what extent did his injury status factor in to his struggles? Howie Roseman broached the topic during his postmortem press conference in January.

“J.J. is a talented kid. He has tools in his body and he had production. I think back to after the Baltimore preseason game, myself and some members of our personnel staff got some calls from people around the league that maybe he was going to be the Rookie of the Year. That doesn’t mean that he doesn’t have to take a jump, because he does. This offseason is really important for him. I don’t think we saw the best of J.J. He was affected a little by injuries.”

JJAW first appeared on the Eagles’ injury report in Week 4. He missed a Monday practice with a heel issue ahead of the team’s Thursday Night Football game in Green Bay. He wasn’t listed on the injury report again until he popped up as a limited practice participant with a foot issue leading up to Week 16. JJAW was also limited in Week 17 but didn’t appear on the injury report at all for the Eagles’ wild card playoff game. It was that final game where his 12 offensive snaps were outpaced by former practice squad members Greg Ward (50), Robert Davis (48), and Deontay Burnett (13). So, I don’t think injury alone can be used to explain away JJAW’s rookie struggles but it could’ve been a contributing factor.

  • Early in the season, the Eagles’ coaching staff attributed JJAW’s lack of production/playing time to him only being versed at the “X” position as Alshon Jeffery’s primary backup. JJAW gaining a deeper understanding of multiple positions could really help him out. Of course, he might not actually be able to get the proper reps he needs given how COVID-19 is impacting the NFL offseason schedule.
  • With JJAW only logging 22 targets in 486 snaps played, it’s clear that Carson Wentz didn’t have much trust in him. That needs to change.
  • Not sure what the reference to trade rumors is about. JJAW hasn’t been included in any of those.
  • Nice to see the encouraging words from Doug Pederson.

It remains to be seen how JJAW fits in to the Eagles’ offense this season and beyond. I currently have him projected to be a starter with the idea that Jeffery is either beginning the season on PUP or won’t be on the team at all. But the Eagles have a lot of bodies at receiver and nothing is set in stone.

The case for optimism is that JJAW seems like a genuinely hard-working kid who did show flashes in that Ravens preseason game last year. Getting healthy and more experienced could make a difference for him.

The case for pessimism is that history does not bode well for JJAW’s outlook and the injury/lack of experience factors are merely excuses. He wasn’t without struggles at Stanford:

The Eagles would sure love to see JJAW step up in 2020. Are you feeling confident he can?

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