PRESSURE can bursts pipes, or make diamonds. So do we need a plumber, or a jeweler? Understand, TE J.J. Arcega-Whiteside switching position from WR, isn’t just pressure on him. The Eagles also have quite a bit at stake. In fact, it could be argued that the stakes are higher for the team, than for the player. The Eagles need for this move to work, more than JJAW does.
Aside from TE Dallas Goedert, the Eagles don’t have a receiver at the TE position. That’s where JJAW needs to come in. We know he can block and play Special Teams, and we need him for those things already. We just have to see if the change in positional coaching, will change his perspective enough to make him a respectable option, if he should have to start.
JJAW runs well enough. The issue is his reliability as a receiver. On a career 35 targets, he has just 16 catches for a 45% catch rate. Keep in mind, only 3 of those 19 incompletions are drops, but still, that 45% catch rate almost makes him a member of the opposing defense. Aside from the 3 drops, he’s had 16 phantom (balls not dropped) incompletions. Those are his worst enemy.
Whether it’s miscommunication on routes, being late to signal when open, not being physical coming back to the ball, whatever. These are some of the things that cause phantom incompletions. The difference between being a talented WR, and being a professional one, is technique. JJAW wasn’t getting WR technique, so the team is hoping a different perspective will give the team access to his physical talents.
The Birds re-signed TE Richard Rogers, but if they were serious about him, they wouldn’t have a total of seven TE’s on a roster, likely to only carry three. TE Jack Stoll is a very good blocker whom I discussed in a prior installment. Stoll can be a chain mover, but he’s never going to be a match-up headache.
Rookie TE Grant Calcaterra has had so many concussions that he no longer has a count. Some media outlets report the number as three, but anything you read quoting Calcaterra (before he unretired), hints STRONGLY that the number is well north of that. Well north. The fact that there is no solid number reported anywhere, is terrifying in itself.
Promising young TE Tyree Jackson is still rehabbing a blown ACL, and TE Noah Togiai is getting cut. Early. So this preseason JJAW has to be put through the ringer. At least a dozen targets in the preseason, and some work in-line. He can’t be some pet guy that we’re stashing on the roster. Both the player and the team need to find a way to make this work.
Given his Combine scouting, I don’t know why this move wasn’t made years ago. No matter. If both sides can make this work, the Eagles might end up with a player very similar to former TE Jordan Reed. (Minus the concussions.) He wouldn’t be a steal, but he certainly wouldn’t be a wasted second round pick anymore.