Alshon Jeffery reached up and grabbed a beautiful 15-yard strike from Jalen Hurts last week. It was the veteran receiver’s first touchdown since Dec. 1, 2019. Now that highlight-reel play is leading to a (surprisingly?) bigger role for him in the Philadelphia Eagles’ offense.
Jeffery didn’t make his 2020 season debut until Nov. 15 after taking up an extra roster spot for the first nine weeks. The Eagles chose not to place him on injured reserve to start the year despite the 30-year-old trying to rebound from Lisfranc surgery. Instead, the nagging foot injury kept him on the sideline until Week 10.
The team has made a concerted effort to get Jeffery heavily involved ever since his return. He has seen 101 total snaps over the past three weeks after a slow re-acclimation period. He has three receptions for 30 yards (nine targets) and a touchdown in five games. Of course, Jeffery’s production has come at the expense of another man: Travis Fulgham.
“I’ll tell you this, Alshon is getting healthier and is playing better and we game plan for him,” head coach Doug Pederson told reporters on Wednesday. “There are certain plays, specific plays that Travis is going to be in on and there’s specific plays that Alshon is going to be in on.”
Fulgham, the practice-squad member turned breakout star, has seen his receiving numbers dip dramatically in the same time frame: snaps (73), targets (4), catches (2), receiving yards (16). It’s been a heated topic of conversation — one Pederson has tried to avoid in recent weeks — as Fulgham continues to fall out of the gameplan. The head coach finally addressed the issue on Wednesday, hinting that maybe it had more to do with Fulgham under-performing.
“He has to do better. He’s got to play better,” Pederson said. “But at the same time Alshon is playing better too, so we’re going to play the guys on that particular play who are in the game.”
Then, Pederson seemed to catch himself for criticizing Fulgham (it wouldn’t be the first time he called out a player) and put the blame entirely on his own play-calling inefficiencies.
“That’s based on game plan, so you can’t put it on Travis,” Pederson said. “You can put it on me. I’m the play-caller, I call the personnel groups, so put it on me.”
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Open Competition at Left Tackle Next Season
Jordan Mailata has played exceptionally well at left tackle since filling in for Jason Peters. It’s no easy task to take over for a future Hall of Famer, but the young Aussie has looked every bit the part of a starting-caliber blind-side blocker. He is making a strong argument for keeping “The Bodyguard” job in 2021.
Mailata has allowed just five quarterback pressures in his last three games and 19 pressures on strictly pass-protection snaps. He has allowed five total sacks, per Pro Football Focus, and committed three penalties on all snaps. Consider second-year tackle Andre Dillard on notice — fairly or unfairly.
“He’s helping himself, I would say that,” Pederson said. “Jordan has played well enough to maybe compete at that spot, but I think it’s a little unfair to sit here and say he’s a full-time starter moving forward without seeing enough of Andre who obviously we drafted to take that spot.”
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