Eagles fans are understandably concerned about when Carson Wentz will return to the field, but this offense needs Alshon Jeffery back as well.
Carson Wentz’s injury is dominating the headlines in Philadelphia, but the absence of Alshon Jeffery really showed up on the field last night as well. The uncertainty regarding the receiver’s injured shoulder should have Eagles fans more than a little concerned.
The fact that Jeffery missed last night’s game wasn’t a surprise to anyone. It was always going to be tough for him to make it back from rotator cuff surgery in time for Week 1. The concern should be over the lack of a clear understanding of how much longer it will take him to get back onto the field.
Jeffery doesn’t sound like a player who’s going to ramp up his level of activity anytime soon. He claims he still has “a couple more visits with the doctor” before he will be cleared for action. Even more concerning is his admission that he is still having days where his shoulder injury feels “pretty tough.”
He is not the sort of wide receiver who can really flourish with an injured shoulder. Jeffery relies on his strength and size to wrestle the ball away from defensive backs. Putting him out there with a weakness like that would rob him of what makes him a weapon for the Eagles offense.
In other words, the organization needs to be patient. They cannot afford to put Jeffery back onto the field until he’s fully recovered. It’s very possible that won’t happen for at least another couple of weeks.
That’s bad news for an offense that looked awful throwing the football last night. Nick Foles only managed to throw for 117 yards against a banged up Falcons secondary. Some of that was because of his inability to get the ball to receivers on time, but there weren’t a ton of guys open for him down the field.
The only player who really managed to get open down the field was tight end Zach Ertz. He’s an excellent weapon down the seam, but the lack of a deep threat on the outside limits his effectiveness. That’s exactly the role Jeffery plays for this offense. Even when he isn’t catching balls, the threat of him on the outside opens the field up for his teammates.
Getting Wentz back is the most important thing for the Eagles offense, but no one should overlook their need to get Jeffery back as well. This offense won’t be running at anything close to maximum efficiency until both guys are back on the field.