The Eagles are in need of a huge performance from Alshon Jeffery against his former team
Week 9 of NFL football has a lot of great games on tap, and the Philadelphia Eagles will play in one of them. The Birds will take on the Chicago Bears in a rematch of last season’s Wild Card playoff game. The Bears famously lost that game in heartbreaking fashion, as kicker Cody Parkey bounced a kick of the upright and crossbar at the buzzer. Philly did escape that game with a win, but they don’t want this game to be nearly as close. In order for the Eagles to score a big win Sunday, former Bears receiver Alshon Jeffery will need to dominate.
The last time these two squads, it was a low scoring affair, ending at 16-15. The Philadelphia run game was awful, totaling 42 yards. You may be asking how this relates to Jeffery, as the run game struggling isn’t his fault. But Jeffery is the best option in the passing game, and dominance from him would automatically help the ground game. If the South Carolina product can demand double coverage from a Bears defense that usually plays zone, running lanes will be easier to come by.
While Chicago is usually in zone coverage, they still play a decent amount of man coverage. During last year’s playoff game, Jeffery drew cornerback Prince Amukamara. The Eagles wideout has three inches of height on Amukamara to go along with a 20-pound weight advantage. When the Eagles make their way into the red zone, Jeffery has to make an impact. It’s an area that he has surprisingly struggled in so far, catching only four balls inside the 20. He is currently absorbing 25% of Philly’s targets, but that number should skyrocket when the Eagles are knocking on the door.
Another factor that Jeffery is supposed to specialize in is contested catches. Because of his big frame and capable hands, quarterback Carson Wentz frequently looks to Jeffery on third downs. But despite all of this, catching balls in traffic has been an area that Jeffery has been abysmal in. According to the NFL’s PlayerProfiler, the big pass-catcher doesn’t have a single contested-catch all season long. Against a strong Bears defense, nothing will be easy. Throws will be into tight windows, and cornerbacks will be all over receivers. In order for the Eagles to effectively move the football, Jeffery will have to shed his slump and make some big catches in traffic. If Jeffery can add that element to the offense, the Eagles will have a significantly easier time on offense.