Alshon Jeffery is the anti-Odell, and that’s just fine with the Eagles | Mike Sielski
Jeffery had seven catches, including two for touchdowns, in Thursday's victory over the Giants. "As long as we win," he said, "that's all I care about."
The dynamic wide receiver had signed his monster contract, the one he'd sought for a while, but in the aftermath everything fell apart.
The funny part is, the mess was easy to see coming. The team's quarterback had begun to regress long before the receiver got his money, and though the receiver was now paid more than any other player at his position in the NFL — and really, can you blame him for saying yes to that? — he was finding that he still wasn't happy.
The team had lost 18 of its last 22 games, and the dynamic wide receiver began taking less-than-subtle shots at the quarterback in the media, and in an embarrassing loss Thursday night at MetLife Stadium, the dynamic wide receiver started his halftime respite early and finished it late, and everyone wondered why but no one was really surprised.
And from the opposite sideline, Alshon Jeffery could watch what was happening with Odell Beckham Jr. and Eli Manning and the New York Giants, and he damn sure wasn't going to say a word about it.
"I've got nothing to do with that, boss," Jeffery said at his locker after catching eight passes from Carson Wentz, including two touchdowns, in the Eagles' 34-13 victory. "I've got no comment on that. Odell's a great player. I've got nothing to do with anything that's going on. I can't speak for nobody else or their situation. I'm happy in Philly and love it here, man."
The warm feelings flow both ways, in large part because Jeffery has been the anti-Odell during his tenure with the Eagles. Wentz's presence and the promise he had shown as a rookie quarterback persuaded Jeffery to accept a one-year free-agent deal back in March 2017, and Jeffery's 22 games with the Eagles have been a testament to his balancing his personal and financial benchmarks against his team's goals.
Through his first 12 games with the Eagles, Jeffery had 47 receptions and seven touchdowns. Then, in early December, he and the Eagles agreed to a four-year deal worth as much as $52 million. In his 10 regular-season and postseason games thereafter – one of which was a meaningless Week 17 game against the Cowboys in which he played just one quarter – Jeffery has 40 receptions for eight touchdowns. He's been as good or better since signing the extension, and don't forget: He played the entire 2017 season with a torn rotator cuff.
"He's a leader," Wentz said. "He's very soft-spoken, but he works his tail off. You know what you're going to get with him week in and week out."
What they've gotten, in his three games this season since returning from the rotator-cuff rehabilitation, has been what a No. 1 wide receiver should provide: 18 catches, 218 yards, three touchdowns. His first reception Thursday night, for the Eagles' first touchdown, was an example of his importance to the Eagles offense.
Yes, Wentz was marvelous on the entire sequence: rolling right, buying more than six seconds of time, flouting the fundamentals of sound quarterbacking by throwing across his body into the middle of the end zone. That's Wentz. He can do that.
But part of the reason he can is that Jeffery is 6-foot-3 and among the league's most sure-handed receivers, and on that play, he was double-teamed by two smaller defensive backs: cornerback Janoris Jenkins, who is 5-10, and safety Landon Collins, who is 6-0.
Does Wentz dare to try that throw to another receiver? Maybe. Does he feel more secure trying it with Jeffery? Definitely.
"He's a mismatch nightmare," wide receiver Nelson Agholor said. "Nowadays, you've got speed corners out there with littler guys. He climbs on those dudes. We like to say he dunks on those dudes."
"He's big, physical, powerful," coach Doug Pederson said. "His catch radius is extremely high. He has an ability, as he's proven these last couple of weeks, to break tackles, carry defenders, get some tough first downs. I think that's what you want from a guy like that. You put him anywhere and let him run routes."
His second score, a 1-yard catch-and-waltz on a screen pass that the Eagles lifted from the New England Patriots playbook, was his sixth touchdown in his last five games.
Someone asked Jeffery if he knew he was on such a good run. "I really don't pay attention to that, honestly," he said. "I didn't even know that until you just said that. It don't matter to me. As long as we win, that's all I care about."
His teammates, he was told, said that having him on the field makes them more confident in themselves. Why?
"I just always tell 'em: Ain't nobody f—– with us," he said. "That's what I always say."
The other stuff on the other sideline Thursday night? No, Alshon Jeffery won't say a word about the difference between here and there. He doesn't have to.