Eagles-Bears: Jeffery Downplays Reunion
PHILADELPHIA (973espn.com) — After the Chicago Bears' final game last season, Alshon Jeffery made a bold prediction for what seemed like a pretty poor football team: "I guarantee you we're going to win the Super Bowl next year."
Or did he?
Jeffery was a pending free agent and left the Windy City for a one-year deal in Philadelphia and when asked about that declarative statement on Tuesday in front of his locker at the NovaCare Complex, Jeffery smiled slyly and remarked: "I never said a team, though."
Jeffery is now the top wide receiver on the NFL's best team and his prognostication skills could have been laughed off in Chicago but all of a sudden his "guarantee" seems plausible although the "we" is now the Eagles, who happen to host his old team at Lincoln Financial Field on Sunday.
The Bears are currently 3-7 and in last place in the NFC North while trying to develop the No. 2 overall pick in the 2017 draft, Mitchell Trubisky at quarterback.
Trubisky, though, hasn't exactly taken to the NFL like Carson Wentz, the No. 2 overall pick a year earlier, who has exploded in his sophomore season and is a legitimate MVP candidate.
In another seemingly throwaway line that now looks Nostradamus-like, Jeffery explained his decision to sign with the Eagles back in March while writing for The Players' Tribune, claiming Wentz possessed the talent to "win an MVP someday."
That is something that obviously hasn't changed now that Jeffery is 10 games deep with his current QB.
"I still feel the same way," Jeffery said. "I still believe he can win the MVP. I still believe he's a great leader on and off the field."
Jeffery isn't the most outspoken guy in the world and is as far away from the typical-diva WR as you can get so it's tough to gauge how he's feeling after a year in which he hasn't put up the numbers some expected of him.
Through 10 games, Jeffery has snared 38 receptions for 567 yards and six touchdowns, a pace far behind (except for the TDs) his glory years in Chicago when he was an 80-plus catch and 1,000-yard plus receiver with the Bars in 2013-14. That's started to change in recent weeks, however, as the South Carolina product has 10 receptions for 151 yards and three scores in the Eagles' blowout wins over Denver and Dallas.
"I think players who want a lot of individual stats, my opinion, their team don't do well," Jeffery said. "It's not basketball. In basketball, I can go out there and score 40 or 50 and we can win. ... Football you need everybody."
Offensive coordinator Frank Reich mentioned that unselfish nature when discussing Jeffery on Tuesday:
"I've seen the same guy. That's one of the things that I love about Alshon: Even early on when the ball wasn't going to him as much, totally unselfish, hard worker. You just know these things take time -- the chemistry, the opportunities, the confidence level that grows," Reich explained.
These days, Jeffery seems to be getting a little more comfortable in his surroundings both on and off the field even attending a Sixers game earlier this week. He declined to talk about his future, however, after an ESPN report from Dan Graziano claimed the Eagles were probably not going to invest in Jeffery long-term
"I'm just playing football," Jeffery explained. "I'll just let my agent and [Eagles executive] Howie [Roseman] do a great job of talking about that."
The veteran receiver also downplayed an added incentive for excelling against his former team. The Bears game is just about taking that next step toward something special, that championship prediction.
"Winning championships, that's most important to me," Jeffery said. "A lot of players make a lot of money, but some of them never make the playoffs, never get to experience a lot of things. Like being here in Philly, the atmosphere where we all want that for each other. We all want to go to the playoffs. We all want to win a championship."
973espn.com Prediction: Eagles 30, Bears 13 (2017 Prediction Record: 8-2; vs. spread 6-4)
-John McMullen covers the Eagles and the NFL for 973espn.com. You can reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @JFMcMullen