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Eagles mailbag: Why all the hate for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside?


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Eagles mailbag: Why all the hate for J.J. Arcega-Whiteside?


After a really strange offseason, training camp is still scheduled to begin on time and that’s a great sign for the 2020 season. 

There are still plenty of hurdles to get over, but it looks like we’re going to have football in 2020 and that should make everyone happy. 

As always, thanks for all your questions. We’ll split them up into a few parts. 

Let’s get to it: 

In fairness, there was obviously way more bad than good in J.J. Arcega-Whiteside’s first NFL season. He ended up with just 10 catches for 169 yards and 1 touchdown. Meanwhile, players who were drafted after him, like D.K. Metcalf and Terry McLaurin, were really good. That added insult to injury. 

I get why so many fans have completely written off JJAW after that rookie season. And maybe they’re right. Maybe he just doesn’t have it. 

But I’m honestly not ready to give up on him yet, not after one season. I think it’s fair to say he was somewhat overwhelmed as a rookie. But his lingering foot injury certainly didn’t help, especially considering his strength is supposed to be catching jump balls. Looking back, the Eagles probably should have drafted a speedy receiver instead, but it’s not like JJAW wasn’t talented. He wasn’t the most popular pick but he was a 2nd-round talent. 

The really frustrating thing about JJAW is that when Alshon Jeffery got hurt, he really had a chance to get on the field. That should have been his time to shine and it’s concerning that he simply didn’t. 

No matter what he does at training camp this summer, I expect JJAW to be on the team in 2020. Maybe anything the Eagles get out of him will be a bonus, but I actually think he has a chance to still be a decent contributor in Year 2. Maybe I’m crazy, but let’s give him another shot. 

You were able to sneak three questions in here, so I’ll try my best to answer all three. 

• I think a big reason the Eagles’ special teams units in recent seasons haven’t lived up to their previous level is largely because of injuries. When a team suffers as many injuries as the Eagles have in the last few years, not only do they lose their starting caliber players, but then their backups have bigger roles on offense and defense. Guess who the normal special teams players are. Yup, backups. So now the special teams units have completely new players and that means trouble. The good news is that the Eagles have three pretty good specialists in Jake Elliott, Cameron Johnson and Rick Lovato. That helps. 

• The Cowboys are still the biggest competition in the division. I know they have their problems, especially after they failed to get a long-term deal done with Dak Prescott. But the Cowboys still have a lot of talent. They have been underachievers in recent seasons and it makes you wonder if bringing in a new coach will help them maximize the talent they already had on the roster. The good news for the Eagles is that they’re at an advantage having the same head coach and defensive coordinator coming out of this weird offseason. The other three teams in the division are starting fresh with new head coaches. 

• Nah, I don’t think Jalen Mills will throw the ball at all this year. Wait … what’s that? You meant Jalen Hurts? Oh, he might. Hurts will begin the season as the Eagles’ third-string quarterback so it’s not even a given that he’ll be active on game days. But there’s a chance the Eagles want to try some trickery with him. I don’t think that’s how they largely view him — they really think he’s just a QB — but I think the possibility of getting him out there this season is something Doug Pederson won’t be able to resist. So I think if the over/under is 1/2 a throw, I’ll take the over. 

Howie Roseman is never one to rest, so I think they’ll still bring in new players even in this unusual training camp. I just wouldn’t expect any big splashes. The Eagles have some salary cap room for this season but they’re in a crunch next year and want to carry over as much as they can. 

If you’re wondering why I think they’ll make some kind of move, take a look at their recent history. In the last four years, the Eagles have added players each year in late July-August who made the 53-man roster: 

2019: Signed Darren Sproles, signed Orlando Scandrick, signed Josh McCown

2018: Signed DeAndre Carter, signed Corey Graham

2017: Signed Corey Graham, traded for Ronald Darby, traded for Dexter McDougle

2016: Traded for Dorial Green-Beckham


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I still like JJ. Unless Doug and all these new coaches implement the proper scheme for JJ and give him routes that are his strengthens, he will never have success here. He will never be a slant, drag route guy. They need to get him in high point situations. Posts, Deep digs/outs, Corners, fades, and Endzone jump balls. I like Howie but some of his picks are head scrathers. This one is as we dont run any type of scheme that fits this kid. This year its up to the new coaches to make him a success by putting him in situations to make him succeed. If they do and he fails, then its on JJ. If they keep doing the same dink and dunk and putting him on slants and drags then his failure is on the coaching staff and they should trade him to a team that he can make best of the skills he has. 

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Was concerned that he'd not be an impact possession receiver, and he wasn't. It's not hate. It's disappointment and the understanding that he may have to be replaced after the 2020 season if he continues to be the invisible man while producing next to nothing this season.

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